There is no one way to business success. That might seem obvious to some, but for many others, it’s a statement that cuts through the self-doubt and fear. What if you have a business that depends on well-honed strategies for generating leads? How do you improve that business and get it running like a well-oiled machine? Here are some things entrepreneurs can use to re-think the way they approach their market.
Ditch the Business Plans
Dwight D. Eisenhower once said that while plans are worthless, the act of planning is essential. It’s clear what he meant: plans come and go—and they often go out the window. But the act of preparing is what determines success and failure.
What does this have to do with a business plan? Consider the ancient dogma that a properly-started business begins with a well-written plan, and throw that out the window, too. A more flexible approach to planning and strategy can win just as well—if not better. Here’s why.
Design as You Go: A New Approach
When you start a business, you don’t know what you don’t know. It is the act of starting a business that begins the learning process in earnest. As Tim Berry of Forbes once noted, business plans are always being revised. And now they’re revised faster than ever. Said Berry: “In the old days, a plan might last a few months without revision, but today a plan is obsolete in a few weeks.”
This isn’t to say you should throw out business plans entirely. Statistics say that business plans tend to create 30% more opportunities for growth. But let’s not confuse correlation with causation. Is it really a great business plan that is helping these businesses, or is it the act of preparation and market research that’s really helping?
Evolve All The Time with the “1%” Rule
Small, marginal gains may completely change the way you attract leads and build a business. But how?
What you do want to do is find the marginal gains that you can slowly incorporate into your business over time. James Clear, author of “Atomic Habits,” calls these the little 1% victories that add up to unbelievable amounts of change over time.
In the book, Clear points out that British cycling adopted the “small changes” approach in the mid-2000s. While some of their changes had to do with cycling—such as giving more grip to their tires—some of them were only indirectly related. Still, the changes added up. Within a few years, the cycling team was one of the best in the world.
How do you do this with your own lead-attraction efforts? Here are some ideas:
- Find ways to improve and leverage your network. Something as simple as introducing two people within your network can pay off dividends in the long term. You’ll be seen as the “person who knows people,” which means that in the future, people with potential leads may come to you.
- “Authority hijacking.” Look for small, incremental ways you can use higher connections to boost your business profile. For example, did you get published in a noteworthy magazine? Put that front and center on your website. Even one small change like that can boost your incoming leads’ trust of you every time they click on the site.
Outsourcing Value to Improve Over Time
Here’s the thing: you don’t have to do everything yourself.
In “Getting Things Done,” author David Allen says that there are essentially three things you can do with any potential task. You can do it, you can shelve it, or you can outsource it. Only two of the three get anything done—and sometimes, you don’t have the resources to take things on yourself.
The solution is to outsource value to improve your lead-attracting abilities over time. Here are a few ways to think about that:
- Outsource your most tedious tasks. Let’s say you’re a stickler for following up with leads. But doing so is cutting into your time. You might try employing a virtual assistant to handle following up with leads who haven’t contacted you in a while, cutting your time down to size.
- Hire a PR firm. Want to get your name to show up in more press? Consider outsourcing the work to a PR firm that already has contacts in the media and will be willing to coach you and even take on some of the work themselves.
The more you work to improve your lead generation over time, the more you’ll discover what works best for you. Start thinking about it like a science: if you experiment with it enough, you’ll eventually arrive at the solutions that make sense for your company.