One of the most common challenges our clients face is balancing client delivery with the things they need to do to grow their business.
We often hear comments like “I’m really busy with client stuff” or “I just didn’t have time to do <whatever business growth task is required>”.
I’ve even heard business owners say they’re not looking for new business because they’re too busy with client work! That statement sends a cold shiver down my spine because they might be busy now but if they’re not spending time on building a pipeline then they’ll soon be looking over their shoulder for some more work when the current project ends!
Now, before we go any further….. we’re not saying that client work isn’t important. Of course, it is, it’s the stuff that generates income. But, when client work consistently takes priority over growing your business that can be a problem that will come and bite you on the bottom.
The fee earning work you do is going to be the thing that you’re great at, the reason you set your business up in the first place and the thing that makes sure you can keep trading. It pays the bills but when you’re working so hard for what feels like very little return something needs to change.
Inboxes are overflowing, deadlines are at risk of being missed and things always take longer than you anticipate.
It can feel like an impossible cycle to break but you absolutely can break it.
You can create time in your diary so you can do the things you want to. Whether that’s working less hours, going home on time, more holidays or whatever else you want to do.
To get you to a place where you can start focusing on making some changes here’s some things for you to consider.
1. Be clear on how much time you have available to service your clients
Set some rules around how much time you “work” each week and within that how many hours you have available for client work. What else do you have to do regularly – admin, networking meetings, etc – block those into your diary. If you have a team, you should follow the same approach and understand how many hours each week you have available for client work once you’ve allocated all those standard internal tasks.
2) Get rid of bad clients and put your prices up
There’s always that client who will demand things last minute, change the brief and have no budget but still want everything with bells on. Although these clients will pay a fee for the work you do, they can zap all your energy and expect you to defuse the grenade that they’ve thrown over the fence for the umpteenth time. Look at your client list with a fresh pair of eyes – who are those clients that eat up all your time for very little reward.
Getting rid of bad clients and putting prices up can mean that you’re not worse off and if anything you may well be better off by having less clients and charging more for what you do.
Sounds simple? It really is. You just need to do it.
3) Stop saying yes to everything
This is the hardest thing in my opinion. Your mind will tell you that you have to say yes to work because you might lose the client and they’ll go elsewhere but if you don’t have the time to do it, or your schedule is already full, then you have to negotiate an outcome that works.
When the type of work is not “right” for you, when the budget doesn’t match what the client wants or the deadline is not achievable don’t break your back to do the work. Can you refer the client onto an associate? Can you negotiate for the work to be done when you have space in your schedule? You can say “no” in a diplomatic way and you’d be in a far worse position saying “yes” and then not being able to meet the client’s timescale.
4) Use the 80: 20 rule
The Pareto Principal (the 80:20 rule) is incredibly effective when it comes to determining which areas to focus your attention and resources in order to make you super-efficient. In the few days before you fly away on your summer holiday you’re super productive aren’t you? You get everything done and cleared before going away. The challenge is to be this productive all the time.
Start tracking your time and seeing where you’re spending your time and what’s eating up all your time. You’ll soon identify those things that are drains on your time – whether it’s interruptions, distractions from social media or email notifications pinging in your inbox. Once you know what is taking up all your time you can determine where you are best focusing your efforts, what tasks you need to eliminate or what things you can put in place to lessen the distractions.
5) Manage your clients better
This is probably the hardest thing to do. As service people we want to help – we live to serve but everyone likes to know where they stand. Make sure you manage your client’s expectations. Don’t agree to something when you know it’s unachievable or you are going to be pushed to deliver it and absolutely never-ever over promise and under deliver. You’ll not do yourself any favours.
Want to break that cycle of being of constantly drowning in client work in your business so you can achieve the growth you’ve been longing for?
Come to one of our Discovery Days and see how work with clients to tackle challenges just like this. Click below to see the next available dates.