Business Development For Leaders

Lawyers with whom I speak are often uncomfortable in rainmaking, especially in moving from a general conversation to one in which the lawyer might ask for a potential client’s business. No one wants to appear pushy or desperate, and most lawyers have a natural aversion to selling themselves. A lawyer who’s always self-promoting and trying to get business is not appealing. Nobody wants to talk with that kind of lawyer, and most of us don’t want to be him or her.

It seems to me that there’s a parallel here with political fundraising. After all, what’s less appealing than a lawyer who sees everyone he or she meets as potential stepping-stone to wealth? Must be a political candidate who always has a hand out and puts on the hard sell.

President Obama’s campaign received more donations and more money than any other in the country’s history. Accusations of fraud are certainly a serious concern, and how those charges have been answered presents another leadership lesson, but there’s something more subtle here. How did Obama’s campaign generate so much money? He offered something that donors found to be of value, and they literally bought into it. A visit to Obama’s website even now starts with a “landing page” that offers readers the opportunity to donate or to go into the main website. There is (and, as pre-election, was) no pressure to donate, but the opportunity is apparent. No one could charge that the Obama campaign neglected to let its supporters know – smoothly and tactfully – that financial support would be welcome.

Obama outlined his vision and millions decided to come along for the ride because they saw what was in his vision for them. They believed that his vision was about him. Yes, he might get the glory and the big salary, but they believed he was doing it for the people he would be representing. Though reasonable people may hold different interpretations of his authenticity or his ability to deliver the promised beneficial changes, the people who donated and who voted for him believed that by choosing him, they were choosing a better future for themselves.

Let’s look back for a moment to see how Obama came to his political career and candidacy. He received a strong education from well-regarded schools, and most people who read The Audacity of Hope seem to agree that he is a deep and critical thinker. Do you suppose he sprang straight from his education and legal career into political leadership? Certainly not.

Though Obama presumably had his ideas about what was going well and poorly with our government, he started by talking with the people he sought to represent. I suspect that he had thousands of conversations, probably starting one-on-one and eventually expanding to town hall meetings, where he listened to what was worrying those who would one day be his constituency, and where he eventually offered his solutions to see how they might land. Those conversations shaped his thoughts and ideas, and his political career was born. But that isn’t unusual: I suspect that most successful politicians have followed a similar developmental path.

Do you see the parallel with legal rainmaking yet? The best rainmakers, and the best leaders, strive to put the focus and attention on those they seek to serve. They begin with determining the potential client’s areas of concern, and they seek to understand before trying to get the client to understand them. A lawyer may storm into a meeting with a potential client eager to tell stories of triumphs obtained through great legal skill and savvy strategy developed through years of experience and study. How do you suppose the potential clients will react? My bet is that while they might be impressed by skill and experience, they’d find those qualifications relevant only to the degree that the lawyer understands their needs.

So, let’s return to lawyers’ fears of being pushy or appearing desperate. The easiest and most effective way to avoid those is to focus on the potential client. But there’s another critical step: offering to meet the client’s needs once thoroughly understood. That’s where the fear of sounding like a sleazy or pushy used car salesman usually arises. Here’s a surprising truth: it is selfish to have a solution to a problem and to be unwilling to share it, and failing to ask for the potential client’s business represents exactly the same selfishness. If a lawyer has the skill and knowledge to assist a client but doesn’t offer it, the client goes without that help (or is forced to look elsewhere), all because the lawyer was too fearful of being pushy. That’s a lose/lose proposition.

Obama’s campaign and election teach us two leadership lessons in this context: first, listen. Understand. Then, and only then, offer solutions. And second, ask for the business. It’s a short but critical step from, “Yes, I understand what you need, I’ve done that work before, let me tell you about other clients I represented in similar situations and how they fared” to “May I help you with this matter?” When the first step is firmly in place, the second is a natural and gracious extension.

Family Business – Developing Key Personnel

Good business performance depends on skilled and capable people in the team and this is no less the case for family businesses. Where the future depends on new generations of the family to maintain the health and growth of the business, the challenge is to provide relevant career development that will get them to a place of credibility and experience to lead the business forward.

Many family businesses are astute enough in their existing team to have the vision necessary to embrace the family members as they become ready for the challenge. In those cases, strategic career planning, using both the expertise of existing senior managers (either family or non-family) and the full involvement of the new family member will be crucial to ensure full engagement in the process.

There may be times where a family member becomes impatient for progress. There may be the challenging circumstances where an individual does not seem to be quite the right fit for future hopes. There is a vital need for ensuring that the path to potential is set correctly and that carefully considered, objective decisions are made, or the future of the whole business may be put in jeopardy.

In order to ensure that processes are in place to protect and even enhance a family business in the future when developing individuals, it may be necessary to seek expert career development support. It could be valuable to have a key member of the senior team gain expertise in both how family businesses are best managed or an HR manager trained in how best to ensure that the best decisions for both the individual family member and the business are taken.

As the individual climbs the path, there will be successes as well as challenges for them to face. Here it will be valuable for them to have a mentor to support their growth and nurture them through the tough times.

The mentor could be an existing family member at senior level or it might be of value to utilise non-family members of the team so that a balanced view of the business can be gained, without the skew of rose-tinted glasses that might be less than objective and might be the challenge of a family member is chosen for this role.

Time is of the essence in structuring the development path. Whilst it will be important that an individual coming into the family business receives the minimum of special attention (and indeed it could be argued that everyone with significant development potential receives the same support, for the broader good of the business), planning the future is important from the start of their experience.

This will enable them to understand the bigger picture, whilst learning the business ‘from the bottom up’.

With good timing; demanding experiences and a focus on the future, there will be every opportunity for the business to make the leap from one generation to the next with every possibility for success.

Planning an Organized Marketing Strategy for Online Business Development

The key to creating an organized online marketing strategy is planning. If your only business isn’t developed using a streamlined approach to planning, you’ll soon find yourself overloaded with stuff you didn’t get done and don’t have time to do. Worse, you’ll be in that predicament with not enough profit to hire it done.

By using these simple, step-by-step procedures to plan your business online, you’ll grasp a handle on your business quickly with plenty of time to enjoy your business profits.

1. Schedule time to plan every week and follow your plan. You may choose to use an online calendar, a notebook, or a 30 day file, the method you choose isn’t as important as the process of using it.

  • Check it frequently.
  • Add everything to the calendar.
  • Include time for yourself in your schedule.
  • Make all appointments stand out, so you don’t forget them.
  • Make time for admin and writing duties, they are important too.

2. Generate a ToDo List and keep it handy. This MUST be on paper. The sense of completion you will feel as you check off each item and cross them off your list is worth the extra paper activity each day. Don’t pass up this opportunity to recognize your accomplishments.

NOTE: Each morning, before you get started, cross three things off your list that you know you’re not going to get done that day. THIS IS IMPORTANT.

3. Spiral notebook. I’m going to say it again, because this is important. SPIRAL NOTEBOOK. Get a thick one with some folders and keep some paperclips attached. Write absolutely everything in your spiral notebook, because it’s your record for the time you’ve got it. Notes, ideas, suggestions, names, addresses, contact information, goals, projects, discussions, topics for writing, information you MUST keep, and anything else you happen to want to jot down. Write it in your spiral notebook. This is your book, dated from beginning to end. Write on front and back pages, nobody will read it but you, and you want all the details.

There are so many pieces to planning your business online, you’re going to want everything written down, organized and completely strategized. I always recommend new business owners find a business coach or consultant to help organize a business start up, because without one, it’s like running blind into a mine field. The results of a well planned business from the beginning are immediate profits.

Nobody can guarantee those immediate profits on the front, but you’re far more likely to have them, if your business is well planned.