When You Are Busy

We all get busy, which is great. We are delivering work, working with fantastic clients and having a wonderful time making money. However, while you are doing that, what about your other clients? If you are not "loving" them, then I guarantee that someone else is, or at least trying to. Whether you are a startup, an independent business person, or even a well-established business, there is a risk when not loving your clients that you aren’t currently working with. This is that, when you finish the projects with your current set of active clients, your other clients may have gone off and met someone new. Business development is a full-time job. Unfortunately, when you are busy trying to get work done, it is usually something that is put on the back burner.

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My tips for when you are busy:

  • Don’t break from routine, plan your breaks.
  • Find time to keep on top of your finances and receipts.
  • Try to have at least 1 to 2 business development meetings per week, squeeze them in, no matter how busy you are. Make it a breakfast or lunch with a client, or referral source. Even time on the phone catching up with someone is all it takes to maintain a relationship and ensure that you are front of mind.

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When You Aren't Busy

There will be times when you are simply not busy. It might be around school holidays, Christmas, or just a flat spell in the market. I still find not being busy difficult. I am so used to running at a million miles an hour and juggling 50 things, that I find it difficult not to stop. After wasting so many opportunities to actually have a break during these periods, over the years, I now have a plan to refresh and take a break whilst still  achieving something. When you are working alone, and it’s quiet, you literally do hear crickets. I have found that during periods of “quietness”, I have signed up for things that I probably not had the chance to do when I was busy. Whether it’s a board or committee, I have put my hand up to have a go, and the best part is that when you do get busy again, you just have to squeeze it in somewhere, and you do. When you are so busy, you get it in your head that you have no time to do anything else, but the old adage that “if you want something done, give it to the busiest person” is often true. You just find a way.

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My tips for when you aren’t busy:

  • Put the radio on and listen to some music.
  • Break up your day - try doing something different.
  • Take a day off or take a long weekend trip.
  • Go into the office later.
  • Go and meet your network for coffee.
  • Exercise more - it helps you clear your mind and focus better when you do work.

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Pivoting and Reacting

It's okay to change your business, and it’s okay to react to what your clients ask you to do. In corporate life, the word “proactive” is so overused it used to make me feel sick.While it is good to be organised and to be able to pre-empt what a client might ask, the biggest differentiator you can offer is that you are not hamstrung by overbearing company processes and policies. If something isn’t working, fix it. If no one is buying a product or service from you, then chances are the solution that you are offering doesn’t fix a problem that they believe needs solving. You are the master of your own destiny. If you spot a change in the market or economy, then you have the power to pivot, or change how you solve problems, or even the market you operate in. Don’t waste the opportunity to grow and evolve with your market or sector!

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My tips for pivoting and reacting to your clients:

  • Ask your clients for feedback, and understand what they are doing from an innovation perspective.
  • Know what trends are occurring in your industry, and elsewhere in the world.
  • Follow technology to see how it can shape your offering.

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Great Authors, Blogs and Books To Check Out

A lot of people I know don’t read, but if they do, they just read within their industry or profession. I think that this is pretty boring to say the least. With the diversity of work that I do, and clients that I work for, I always ask people what they are reading. I try to follow suit, just to broaden my reading horizons. For example, if you are a consultant, it pays to read about marketing, strategy, performance and technology. Also, look across industries. I am reading about the aviation industry at the moment. Before that, I was reading a book about the business of brewing. I try and read as much as I can. When starting a new piece of work, or working with a new client, I will buy a few books on the subject. Sometimes I read them straight away. Others sit on the shelf for a bit, but I always go back to them. Again, I see this as an important part of my learning and education, but also something that I really enjoy doing too.

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My top 5 reading recommendations:

  1. I find that Seth Godin really speaks to me sometimes. Maybe I just happen to pick up one of his blogs or books at the right time, but I swear that upon reading something of his, I am able to implement a lot of what he has written about. My favorites have been Tribes and The Dip. A lot of his work now is based on being authentic and being you, and moving away from the traditional organisational structure.  There are quite a few videos of interviews with Seth on Youtube as well, which are always insightful.
  2. Sign up for alerts from www.entrepreneur.com www.inc.com and www.ceo.com.
  3. I don’t have time to read the financial paper every day, but I do have it delivered on a Saturday so that I can read it over the course of the weekend. Understanding how markets work, and what companies are doing, is vital information for you in how you position yourself. I am a bit old fashioned and have it delivered, rather than receive it on my tablet. I prefer this because I don’t always carry my tablet with me, and I consciously try and reduce my screen time.
  4. Find Your Light Bulb by Mike Harris had me so inspired I was up until 3 am creating business plans and in effect a brand new business. Mike revolutionised the banking industry in the UK, and ultimately the world. Mike talks a lot about the importance of creating a successful pitch, particularly when trying to raise funds.
  5. This might sound an odd one, but The Starbucks Experience is great.  I read this a long time ago on a flight back from Sydney to Perth, and it is now full of highlighted passages and post-it notes. I still keep it on my desk and refer back to it every so often. Its effectively about customer service, personification and creating consistency, rather than coffee. In doing so, Starbucks changed the way that Americans drank and experienced coffee.

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I hope that now having read my views and experiences on quitting your job and going it on your own, you now have a blueprint for success. I would love to hear how you go and whether your experiences are different. Please let me know in the comments below.