Lack of a vision, clear sense of direction or a goal
Many businesses will start out with a product or service that meets a current need within a particular market. And short term success can be achieved assuming there is sufficient demand, and product quality and price are aligned.
The challenge can often come when demand begins to dip and the business needs to increase its reach to new customers, penetrate into different markets, or develop new products / services.
Writing a vision statement can help to establish exactly what the business owner wants the business to be, who it will serve, and what success will look like. Some of the questions that we ask when helping our clients to develop their vision are:
• What type of work do you want to be doing?
• What type of clients do you want to be working with?
• Where do you want to be working?
• Who do you want to be working with?
• How much fee-income do you want?
• How will you know when you have reached your goal?
Lack of time
Business owners often cite a lack of time as being a key factor in why they are unable to spend more time on business development activities. Many entrepreneurs can find themselves spending so much time working ‘in the business’ that they are unable to find time to work ‘on the business’. And this is often why companies plateau and find it difficult to grow following an initial period of success.
Being so heavily involved in day-to-day business operations that there is no time left to focus on more strategic aims that will drive future growth can mean potential is not fulfilled. Making time to invest in strategic planning, analysis of internal performance, and to exploit external opportunities is vital for SMEs that want to realise their growth aspirations.
Investment in the allocation of time for business development activities should be viewed as being as important as time spent on core business activities. Many companies now invest in an allowance of time for business development and, more importantly, expect this time to be used. This also requires the correct resources to be in place to complete client work and also for a team approach to both client work and business development activity so that neither suffers during busy periods or time-intensive projects.
Fear of selling
Not everyone is a natural salesperson and the art of ‘closing the deal’ can be one that many are not comfortable with. Some business owners may even think that sales is not one of their core business activities, so don’t allocate any resources to business development.
But it is simply not possible to grow a business without selling more. Therefore, selling needs to be a recognised part of a company’s core operational activities, with emphasis both on attracting new business, and offering new products or services to existing customers.
Adopt sales management practices. A good first step is to introduce team ‘sales’ meetings at which individuals report on progress including successes and challenges and commit to future actions.
Some members of the team may be more natural salespeople than others, so involve these individuals in new business acquisition activities and ask for their input.
Recognise that it is easier to sell more to existing customers, where there is already a relationship in place, than it is to generate new business. So trying to sell more products / services to these customers will normally be more fruitful than targeting new ones.