Now Or LaterRecently I came across a McKinsey article titled Getting Beyond the BS of Leadership Literature. It’s worth the time (and was a bit indicting); but this is not a post on leading. This is about business development BS. Or, more accurately, what often goes unsaid when Biz Dev is the topic.

If you’re concerned with growing a practice in a professional services environment, it is not news to you that there is plenty of quality content available on the subject. Where to begin, the anatomy of a plan, how to connect, and what tools to incorporate.

Planning templates, coaching webinars and even new Apps promise a greater return on your Biz Dev investment.

But here’s what often gets left out.

If business development (and all that it entails) is not a priority…if you haven’t carved out the time and do not possess the discipline to fully execute a plan, measurable progress will be illusive.

No plan will make up for a when-I-get-around–to-it approach. No strategy will convert a once-a-quarter (or once a year) focus on a productive pipeline of business.

Admittedly, there was a time when things were different. Deliver undisputed quality, and the market would seek you out. And if you happen to be operating in market space where the work you deliver generates all the business you can handle (or meets revenue needs/aspirations), keep doing what you’ve been doing as long as it delivers. Your only biz dev concern is how long that market will endure.

But if you’re among those simply not being called upon enough — whether individual or firm — the issue may be one of prioritization.

Fifteen Minutes A Day

Twenty years ago a colleague told me that he asked everyone with whom he worked for a commitment to spend 15-minutes each day on business development. There were two reasyons for his madness.

  • First, certain business development basics had a shot at becoming a matter of habit; and,
  • Second, establishing business development as a top priority is essential to success.

Would everyone spend the time every day, and could everything be done in a fifteen minute window?

No. But my friend believed that absent this kind of focus, otherwise very good business development plans were doomed to do little more than gather dust on the way to irrelevance.

This is not to discount the pressures of time, or minimize the difficulty of incorporating BD practices and processes

It is to suggest that — even after all the ifs, ands, buts and conditions — we find time for the items to which we affix the highest priority.

The truth is that the efforts associated with the development of new business are often simply not a priority.

Without exception, the most effective business developers I know find the time, maintain focus, and find ways to increase strategic visibility, deliver value to a targeted audience, and ultimately grow the pie.

The best discussions of and exercises in both the art and science of strategic business development are far from BS. But wherever efforts are not leading to growth, perhaps one reason for a lack of progress can be traced to the fact that return is directly proportionate to the degree to which we deem the activity of critical importance.

And maybe a 15-minute commitment is a good place to begin.