1. It is so valuable to "Work the Process"! At a recent team meeting, we took a few minutes to reflect on last year and to draw out the valuable lessons we learned, so that we do more of the same this year and next year. One thing we unanimously appreciated was what we call "working the process." Here at PBC, we share a common value of approaching work systematically.
It is very important to us that we give the best advice, training, and guidance to our clients that we can. It's also crucial that all our messages are consistent. For this to happen, we must focus on our objectives within our vision and work the process. So, for example, team meetings are a key part of our communication process. They always happen, though we are slaves to neither calendar nor clock. They always follow the same format: the 4 Ps, but without an agenda. We always talk about "policy" issues. We always share "progress" measures. We spend the most time on "points for action." We don't do minutes. The only record of our meetings is an action list in three columns, "who" will do "what" by "when." And the fourth P is "people," all the ins and outs and changes for all the folks in our network.
A robust business process like this is invaluable. It is like our guide in the communication wilderness. We always need to be in touch with it. Which of your business processes work well for you? We challenge you to objectively assess your business focus and share your strengths with us.
2. A Broad and Diverse Client Base is Key! Last year, we saw some great benefits from NOT depending upon too few large clients. We were able to regroup quickly and build sales, even when some of our client relationships came to an end. We saw the value of having many clients when we had some changes like retirement and sudden departures due to mergers, and these only had a minimal impact on our business because we have a diversified client base.
But we still abide by number 5 of "7 Epiphany Moments of Business Growth" (an earlier blog still available in our archives). This is "Don't try to be all things to all people; target some of the people ALL of the time." It is all about focusing on your target customers and very clearly defining their business personas and needs. This insight sees right through that old business myth: "Narrowing down your target market means missing great opportunities." The truth, as always, is somewhere in the middle.
How have you adapted to major customer changes last year? What lessons did you learn? Is your market niche narrow enough to bring in the clients, yet broad enough to keep you independent? Talk to us.
3. You Can Never Have Enough Business Connections! Having authentic human connections is not just the meaning of life; it is also a valuable business asset. We learned this again last year by getting many referrals from clients past and present, and networking contacts. We even had a few very long-term contacts turn into client engagements. A "networking mindset" is another of our values here at PBC.
Our top tips for developing this in your business are to seek out and attend networking meetings in your area, and develop and practice your elevator pitch. You know, that snappy introduction you use when you meet somebody: Mine is "Hi, my name is Bernie Heine, and I help executives earn more and work less." It's all about the benefits to others of your service or product, and not about the fancy title or features. The key thing is to encourage dialogue and human connections. Check out our free download, "A Guide to Networking."
4. "We must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy." - Albus Dumbledore
Another big lesson we relearned last year is doing the right thing. By this I mean focusing on people's needs rather than being concerned about their immediate ability to pay the bills. We have some connections who are in career transition and we have supported them, even after the formal client engagement has ended. It's an investment for the future. We may end up with a follow-on assignment, but even if we do not, it is the right thing to do - -helping our clients in every way that we can.
We learned a lot last year, and we are sure you did too. Let's compare notes to our mutual benefit.
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