2020 took us all by surprise in so many ways. While I know it will be different, I’m ready for 2021 and the opportunities that I’m certain will be revealed.
I understand many people may not feel optimistic.
We’ve taken on unfamiliar challenges, and careers have gone awry.
I have reflected, discussed, and opined on 2020 enough. There is nothing left to say about 2020. I’m sure there is; however, I can’t think of a thing. It’s been humbling, frightening, and unsettling. However, it’s also enabled many of us to refocus, reconsider, and reinvent personally and professionally.
Of my top five strengths, according to Gallup Strengthsfinder, Futuristic is smack dab in the middle of Learner, Achiever, Maximizer, and Strategic. I spend a fair amount of time thinking about what’s next.
I like thinking about what’s ahead. It fuels my optimism and determination, my sense of wonder, and my creative sensibility. Is it a bit more daunting heading into 2021? Yes and no.
Yes, because the unknown always brings questions of uncertainty.
No, because we’ve made it through 2020.
So, I choose to lead with a bold outlook and a plan that provides opportunities for more than just our team. I want our team to grow in the years to come well beyond our hub in Baltimore.
As a service-based business, it’s imperative we continually review our offerings for fit, profitability, and marketability. Not every service makes the cut from year to year.
If you are a service provider―coach, trainer, consultant, speaker, writer, marketer, strategist, I encourage you to do the same. Consider what you could offer to enhance your business and better serve your clients.
Growth and survival depend on this kind of evaluation even when it may require some conscious disassembling or loss of current services.
Our job as leaders of ourselves and/or teams is to ensure we’re offering all we can to further our client’s business and career initiatives.
It’s why we are expanding in a big way in 2021. We need to ensure our clients have what they need to be successful. Resting on who we are today is not enough. It shouldn’t be for anyone looking to grow their business, support their family, and influence their community.
I believe small businesses will be the growth engine as the economy rebounds. Small businesses and entrepreneurs are agile, focused, and eager to succeed. In Hubspot’s recent article, 28 Incredible Small Business Opportunities for 2020 and Beyond, Hubspot takes a look at where the opportunities lie.
The list is probably not surprising; there are ideas for a range of experience and skillsets.
These lists rarely talk about the one component that is vital beyond financing, and that is the skill to generate revenue.
I’m not sure this skill has ever been more valuable than it is right now. Every conversation with a CEO, president, or business owner since the pandemic has led with generating revenue. For the last five years, this conversation has lagged behind finding and hiring talent. When I asked about business development and sales, I heard a number of leaders say, “We’re good, business is strong.”
It is until it isn’t, and many people found that they did not have the revenue generation process in place— their funnel or pipeline was light, and scarily so. Others though saw it as an opportunity to build a strong funnel and gain greater market share. Kudos to those leaders, they’re able to march boldly into 2021.
The ability to sell―identify a problem, connect quickly with a buyer, intelligently frame a response that solves said challenge— is a highly valuable skill. It also requires determination, talent, and experience. Without developing and closing business, it isn’t easy to scale or expand. Worse, the business may not be viable.
For solopreneurs, coaches, trainers, and consultants delivering their services, this is especially problematic.
What’s the solution?
It may be too expensive to hire someone else. It’s hard to train someone in sales when that is not your expertise.
The sales problem is painful.
It’s crucial to figure out. The sooner you do, the better. It may mean aligning with an organization that helps you generate business.
It was better for our business in our earlier years if I focused on client development and delivered less on projects. The goal has been to develop a team of wildly talented people empowered to make decisions that positively affect client outcomes, represent Intero well, and showcase their deep expertise. This formula works for us because we try the best we can to contribute based on our respective strengths.
In 2021, our goal will ensure everyone can work with clients in all business areas, including client development.
No plan survives its collision with reality. That’s what my friend, Ben Griffin, has shared for as many years as I’ve known him. It’s never been more true than in 2020 and will undoubtedly be true again in 2021. Our job as business owners is to make an adaptable, marketable plan, and position everyone to win in the long term.
Here are eight key questions to ask ahead of 2021
What’s working and what’s not in marketing, sales, operations, talent attraction, retention, and client referrals?
Are you capitalizing on your strengths?
How do you show up online (Google, LinkedIn, website, social media?)
How are sales results trending?
How do you compare in these areas with your worthy adversaries?
How does your value proposition, stand-up and deliver?
How do you work with your strategic alliances, partners, and centers of influence?
Where could you create more opportunities for your business?
Where do your clients need more help?
Can you deliver it today?
Could you deliver on it with additional support?
Does it fit with your other services?
Please choose one or two questions and answer them. Determine how you can advance your clients’ business and career initiatives. Build your value, expertise, and business to thrive in 2021 and beyond.