Business development is often one of those tasks that are put on the back burner; it tends to be left until the end of the day, often getting pushed back until the next day and the next until it falls further down on the list of priorities. Many professionals can go months without completing any work that is aimed at developing the business – does this sound familiar to you? You don’t have to like business development or be ‘a natural’ at it to get the task done, it’s all about creating a habit. This article shows you how to do a daily business development plan for accountants and professionals.
It’s not easy but anyone can do it
Do you know that person that always gets things done? That person who when they set themselves a goal, you have no doubt that they’ll achieve it? You can be that person too. Being productive is all about developing good habits or rather, replacing bad habits with positive ones. Professionals fall down with this by trying really hard to change their behavior first. They succeed for a while but soon after, they often lose motivation, become discouraged and their old habits resume. This is true for many of us because a habit is a reflex response to a particular cue, situation or event, and reflexes are difficult to change. The key to creating new and better habits is to identify what triggers that particular bad habit in the first place. Only when you know this can you consciously start to carry out your new desired behavior or action and repeat this over and over again until this positive habit overrides the bad one and becomes your reflex.
Business development for accountants
When talking about business development for accountants or any other professional, the principle is the same. Do you not have time for business development but you find the time for other tasks? Is it never a priority for you? Do you schedule it in but it never gets done? A great way to know what you need to do is to have a plan for your networking activity. Whatever situation you are in, focus on identifying your bad habits first. Keep a timesheet of your day for a week and you’ll soon gain an insight into how you work. Many professionals have found that they have a lull with work at a particular time every day which is where time is wasted; others have discovered that they tend to prioritize easier tasks over ones with more value. Whatever your bad habits, once you identify them, you can work on replacing these with positive ones so that working on business development becomes a natural part of what you do every day.
7 ways to create a daily business development habit
- Set yourself small targets first – making a big change as quickly as possible won’t stick so start off small and increase the effort only when it becomes a natural part of your day. E.g start with 10 minutes of business development a day or 1 task.
- Schedule the time – what gets scheduled gets done, so give your business development tasks adequate space in your schedule just like you would with anything else.
- Link your new habit to an existing one – if you do something every day, such as answer emails, link your new habit to this and it will more likely get done. E.g. after I answer emails I will complete a business development task.
- Pre-commit to your habit – if you share your goals with your colleagues or someone is waiting on you to do X task so that they can carry out Y, this layer of accountability will ensure that you get the work done even when you don’t want to.
- Use the ‘don’t break the chain’ strategy – an easy visual cue to ensure that you’re on track is to mark your calendar with a big X every day that you complete your new habit. Doing so reminds you how much effort you’ve invested into creating this business development habit and soon you will have a chain of Xs that you do not want to break.
- Celebrate your small wins – decide on how you will reward yourself if you complete a full week where you have dedicated some time each day to business development and make sure that you celebrate when you achieve it. Rewarding yourself for progress activates the reward circuitry in your brain which empowers you to continue to take such actions.
Change your mindset – mindset is a powerful tool, so foster positive thinking. Although work keeps your business running, business development allows you to grow so think of these tasks as stepping stones to achieving your future goals.
Consistency is key!
Overriding bad habits is difficult and it will take time but if you use one or more of the above 7 strategies, business development will soon become a part of your everyday work schedule. It just takes a lot of repetition and a determination to make this your new positive habit.