Happy New Year!! You are probably still feeling excited and motivated about your business development goals for 2014. Hurray! Now, the key is to keep that enthusiasm from fading over time. Last year, my clients who tried this exercise reported that it made a huge difference in keeping them motivated and on track throughout the year. Regardless of whether you are a true rainmaker or a total newbie, whether you wrote a thirty-page plan for 2014 or haven’t yet committed anything to writing, this exercise is for you. (Note for those who skim, this is a two part exercise. Part one focuses on goals and part two addresses planning.)
What is the number one problem with most business development plans? They sit in drawers, unused, and are out of date almost immediately. Attorneys get so busy with billable work that those ambitious plans, which seemed like a great idea during the first week of January, are repeatedly postponed and may even be forgotten entirely. This year, to keep the business development goals present for yourself, try writing them on a picture and post it on your computer desktop. It might look something like this.
Using entertaining, beautiful or inspirational pictures helps people to stay enthusiastic and energized over the long haul. Even placing standard written goals on your desktop would help you to stay focused. Nevertheless, most of us have had the experience of posting reminders to ourselves that grab our attention for a short while, but inevitably fade into the background. You know it's there, but you don’t really focus on it. This is why the addition of visual stimuli makes such a difference, particularly if the picture has an emotional component. Pictures draw us in and get our attention at a level that words rarely achieve.
Here are some quick guidelines for making your own inspirational business development poster.
- Choose your top three business development goals for the year. I know you probably have more than three; but, the key here is to keep it simple, so choose either the most important goals or just focus on the first part of the year. Make sure that the goals are specific, for example “three new deals” versus “more deals.” You don’t have to write all the details on the picture, as long as you are clear about them and they are written down somewhere else. If you want some tips on how to choose the right goals for you, check out How to Design a Powerful Project.
- Find an image that inspires you. Google images is a great resource, as is istockphoto. If you want to use the picture I use in the example, just email me and I would be happy to send it to you.
- Type your goals over the image. For anyone who doesn’t have a photo-editing program, there is a free and fairly easy to use tool online called pixlr. More details on how to do this at the bottom of the post.
For some, this may feel sufficient, but for those who want to achieve the next level of planning and accountability, try adding monthly targets and a few (not too many) actions. It might look something like this.
This type of monthly plan, outlined above, is more effective than 99% of existing business development plans for three simple reasons: (A) Because it is revised every few weeks, it is always current, (B) It is fairly simple, after all, it has to fit on less than a page; and (C) It is hard to forget, as it is right in front of your face every day. Naturally, sometimes more detailed planning is appropriate; but for anyone who has created detailed plans in the past, yet hasn’t been pleased with the results, I recommend giving this a try.
One final note about the monthly plans, creating a new plan each month may sound like a hassle, but it is absolutely essential. Circumstances change. Maybe that huge client that you were hoping to land will go bankrupt and no longer need your particular expertise. On the other hand, a new law could be proposed that will affect your top clients and generate a lot of business for you. Regardless of the reason, whether due to your evolving skills or preferences, a new practice area taking off, or unexpected delays, the only certainly is that things will not go as planned. As President Eisenhower said, “Plans are nothing, planning is everything.” What happens for most people is that as soon as the plan becomes outdated, they proceed to wing it, in essence operating without a plan for the remainder of the year. For those of you who give this a shot in 2014, choosing three simple goals, creating new simple action plans each month and keeping that plan posted in a highly visible location, I promise you will be shocked at how much your business development takes off. Good luck!!
The article is finished. The following is just a technical note for anyone who needs help with photo editing. First, I should say that I am not particularly savvy regarding photo editing. So, if I can do this, so can you. As I mentioned above, pixlr is a decent, free, photo editing program. Click on pixlr editor/ open image from computer to upload the background image you selected. Click on the capital “A” in the sidebar tools menu to create a text box. You can format the text within the box by hitting the return key or the space bar. Once the text layer is created you can drag it to your desired location on the original image. Also, if you want to make the text fancier, with shadows, highlights, colors, etc., make sure the text box layer is highlighted in the “Layers” box on the right side of the screen. Then click on the “layer styles” icon at the bottom of the layers box. Or, if all this sounds too complicated, you could always just ask a spouse, friend or child to do it for you.