As the Halloween season creeps in, we’re delving into the spooky world of business development. Just like a thrilling Halloween tale, there are chilling mistakes lawyers often make in their quest for business growth. In this post, we’ll unearth these eerie errors and show you how to steer clear of them.
Frightful BD Mistake One Neglecting Specific, Measurable Goals
Business development may seem like something that should naturally lead to success, but it often feels like throwing jello at the wall, with most of it ending up in a messy heap on the floor. To succeed in business development, you need clear, measurable goals. Why? Because specific, measurable goals inform your plan, strategies, and tasks. The more precise your goals, the easier it is to determine your next steps.
Take Halloween, for example. Setting a goal like “having the best Halloween ever” is vague and immeasurable. What defines “the best”? It’s too subjective.
Instead, aim for something specific and measurable, like “Spend every weekend in October on fall or Halloween-themed activities, culminating in hosting a small costume party for under 25 people.” This goal specifies your intention to engage in Halloween or fall-themed activities and includes a timeframe (each weekend in October and Halloween night), a guest count (under 25), and the number of activities (five weekends plus the party).
Now apply this precision to your business development efforts. What’s your specific, measurable goal?
Frightful BD Mistake Two Forgoing a Well-Defined Plan
In the world of business development, failing to plan is akin to planning to fail. Picture a mysterious butler in a haunted mansion delivering this message. Yes, it’s a Halloween-themed post – enjoy the spine-tingling atmosphere.
Jokes aside, this brings us to frightful BD mistake number two. Having a specific, measurable goal isn’t enough; you must craft a detailed plan. Imagine setting out in September with grand intentions for an October filled with activities and a spooktacular party. But, as always, life gets hectic, other plans emerge, and your idyllic hayride or apple-picking adventure remains a dream.
This is where a well-defined plan comes into play. Instead of leaving it to chance, imagine sitting down one weekend in September to list all the activities you want to do in October, review available options, and create a schedule for the month ahead. With this approach, you’d be well-prepared. You could select a date for your Halloween party, create a guest list, send out save-the-dates, check your decorations, shop for missing items, plan your menu and cocktails, and even prepare your costume well in advance. On the big night, you’d welcome your guests in style, with your home impeccably prepared and decorated (or ominously foreboding, as your heart desires).
Your Halloween preparations are now a reflection of your BD plans. How can you create a comprehensive plan for business development to ensure success?
Frightful BD Mistake Three Procrastinating or Leaving It to Downtimes
A plan is only as effective as its execution. If you create a plan and then forget about it, it won’t yield results.
Back to our Halloween party analogy – imagine you made meticulous lists of everything you needed for your Halloween party in September. You knew the food, decorations, costume, drinks, and the guest list. But after creating these lists, you set them aside, got distracted, and suddenly, it’s the week of Halloween.
You sent out invitations via email, but most of your friends already have plans. You began decorating with what you had, only to discover that stores had replaced Halloween decorations with Christmas trees. It’s too late to order anything online for timely delivery. Your dream Halloween costume is sold out, leaving you with one you’re not excited about. You end up staying up late the night before the party, preparing food and buying candy and cocktails, but only five guests show up, far from your expectations.
You can have a flawless plan, but unless you schedule and execute the steps in a timely manner, you’ll feel rushed, and your relationships may suffer. Any business development plan should be a living document, continually revised as you learn what works best for you. So, don’t jot down a couple of goals and ideas in early January only to forget about them until November 15th, attempting to cram 12 months of BD into the last six weeks of the year.
Frightful BD Mistake Four Forcing Yourself into Unpleasant Activities
While stepping out of your comfort zone can be beneficial, you don’t have to engage in BD activities you despise.
Are you allergic to hay? Skip the hayrides. Petrified of ghosts? Avoid the haunted mansion. Do tiny ghosts and goblins give you the heebie-jeebies? Sidestep trick-or-treating. Do masks terrify you? Opt for a wig instead.
Just as there are countless ways to celebrate Halloween, there are numerous paths to successful business development. If you detest public speaking, don’t volunteer to keynote an industry event. If writing isn’t your forte, don’t force yourself to be a blogger. If podcasting isn’t your thing, explore other avenues. If large networking events make you uncomfortable, find a more suitable approach.
By focusing on activities you genuinely enjoy, you’ll be more likely to follow through with your BD plan. Collaborate with your marketing department, BD professionals, or external consultants to identify activities that align with your interests. If you’re unsure, experiment with new approaches. Finding new clients or securing work from existing clients becomes much more enjoyable when you’re engaged in activities you genuinely like.
Frightful BD Mistake Five Over-Reliance on Word of Mouth
I’ve lost count of the times lawyers have told me they rely solely on word of mouth for business development.
Yes, we’re in the relationship business. Yes, reputation matters. Yes, word of mouth is crucial in certain practice areas.
However, it should not be your sole strategy.
Why do I say this?
Because if your clients are talking about you, you should know what they’re saying. That means you need to be skilled at managing your relationships. Are you, and ideally someone else in your firm, regularly sitting down with your clients to understand why they’re satisfied with your work? Do you know why they recommend you and, more importantly, why they wouldn’t? Are you aware of the work you’re not doing for them, and do you understand the reasons behind it? Managing existing clients is as vital for business development as acquiring new ones, if not more so.
Imagine hosting your Halloween party by inviting only your best friend and hoping they’ll invite everyone else you want to attend. It’s unlikely to work. Instead, be specific about who you want to invite, and if you’d like your best friend to invite others, discuss your preferences with them. Apply the same principle to your clients.
Halloween can be a time of frightful surprises, but with careful planning and attention, you can achieve spooky success in your business development endeavors. Have a hauntingly successful Halloween, everyone!