New business involves executing a marketing strategy, which will typically consist of producing content, and initiating lead generation. Your schedule needs to allow time to produce content that validates your positioning claim, and to deploy that content on various platforms such as email and social media.
In our initial flyover on the subject of marketing, I made the case that narrow positioning is key for any effective marketing plan. Establishing your positioning is not easy. But once you’ve taken that bold step, a whole host of activities that build upon this important foundation need to follow. And if we didn’t have enough to do producing creative work itself, and administering our business, and managing clients—we also have to manage our new business tasks.
New business involves executing a marketing strategy, which typically will consist of producing content, and initiating lead generation. So your schedule will need to allow time to produce content that validates your positioning claim, and to deploy that content on various platforms such as email and social media. And when those efforts generate results, you’ll need time to respond to those opportunities. The new business role requires time commitments for both marketing, and sales proper—discovering whether or not there is a good fit between a prospect’s needs and your services, and working out the details of an engagement.
That is an awful lot of activity. And so managing yourself, so that you have the time to produce the content, and deploy the content, and follow up with interested prospects, and finalize opportunities into engagements is going to require more management.
One important thing to consider about managing yourself in the new business role, is that this is the one role that can be most effectively ignored and put off, due to the urgency of tasks related to the other roles. If you have to pay bills, and deposit checks. If a client is breathing down your neck you’re going to give them attention, and when you have a project deadline, you’ll find the time to get it done.
But new business, at least the pro-active, foundational marketing part, never demands anything of you. At least not until you suddenly find yourself without any work, and then you’ll be motivated to start marketing. Unfortunately, that’s not how marketing works. You can’t expect a desperate blast of activity to result in immediately qualified projects. Good marketing is the result of a constant heart beat of regular activity. You can’t suddenly accelerate and then stop for months on end, and expect any kind of steadiness or control over new business development.
And so as a manager of your own practice, you have to hold yourself accountable for a basic level of weekly marketing activity, and factor that time into your schedule, as well projecting some time allocation anticipating success, which will require prospect qualification and project onboarding. The tyranny of the urgent will never demand this kind of activity—you must manage yourself according to the importance of your ongoing marketing efforts, with all diligence.
After establishing a narrow positioning, if there is one habit a creative entrepreneur could commit to, that would have the greatest long-term effect on the health of his business, it would be pro-actively and consistently managing the new business habits of steady marketing. Far better to fit in a couple hours per week—week, after week, after week—than trying to desperately launching grand endeavors when famine finally rolls around.
And if you do manage to get into this habit, it won’t be long before you have plenty of steady work. Which will lead to a big fork in the road, which we’ll discuss next week—whether or not to hire help, when there’s more work than you can handle.
So until next week: don’t let the business of creativity overwhelm your creative business.