Life on Mars – for professional practices

Recently, I read a fascinating article in The Atlantic looking at the future of policingon Mars.  An intellectual combination of science fiction, in-depth knowledge of policing, environmental conditions on Mars, the psychology of early settlers and experiences in remote places such as Antarctica.  It got me thinking of legal/architectural/financial situations on Mars that professionals will also need to address – based upon thousands of years of experience on Earth.

What legal framework will be adopted?  The one of whoever colonises Mars first?  Person, corporation or country?  But as The Atlantic’s article poses:  Consider the headache presented by an Australian national working on Mars for an American space-faring firm that has been registered, for tax purposes, in Ireland. He is suspected of murdering a Japanese seismologist in a non-jurisdictional mountain range somewhere in the Red Planet’s equatorial region. Who on Mars would be responsible for bringing this man to justice?

OK so maybe a new framework is required – of the settlers, by the settlers, for the settlers? But check out the Atlantic article for just how these laws will be policed.

What about finance to pay for a (somewhat miserable) existence on Mars?  Cash is a non-starter – too heavy to transport there.  Credit Cards require wi-fi (that’ll be somewhat patchy for a long time), data links back to earth are likely to time-out in the 40 seconds typically allowed, how about inventing a new crypto-currency for Mars and creating their own payment system?  OK, that’ll take a little time (and likely never be linked to earth’s economy) – and in the meantime, there’ll be extortionate bills for oxygen and water to be paid.

What about architecture?  What will life on Mars look like – how will people live in such an inhospitable environment?  Well, check out Mars City Design – an organisation whose mission it is to create a blueprint for sustainable cities on Mars – and has been gathering ideas, creating concepts and building international teams to do this – for years.  Apparently building natural sources of oxygen into house design is rather important.

Now, if you’ve made it to the end of this article, well done.  I struggle to get professional practices to comprehensively plan a year ahead for life on earth – never mind a hypothetical one on Mars.

Call me (44 7825 215703) to discuss the best plans for earth-based professional practices to double their revenues in the next two years.  Their worth is proven – Mars is still a dream.

Do you know what a Marketing Technology Stack is?

If you don’t know what a Marketing Technology Stack is then I can categorically state that you are leaving money on the table.  Shame on you.

Without an optimal stack to help you manage your professional business you are letting leads slip away, failing to nurture to opportunities and (to be honest) don’t know what is working from a marketing perspective and what is a colossal waste of time and money.

Is that how you want to run your business?  Is that how you would recommend to your clients that they run their business?

A Marketing Stack is creating the right set of integrated tools to ensure you maximise your practice revenue – and it’s less expensive than you might think – an outlay of ~£150/€200 per month in technology is all most small professional practices need to perform well.

But the challenge is not the investment, it is choosing the right tools (many of whom offer multiple stack features) and implementing them effectively within your practice.

So, let me try and explain how a technology stack for your professional practice might look:

  1. Lead Assets – these are the powerful, dynamic, relevant content pieces that you create to support your lead generation and nurturing activities and to establish yourself as a thought leader and voice of authority to your prospective clients. Online, these include your website, landing pages, blogs, eBooks, videos, webinars, eNewsletter, direct mail …..   Useful tools to consider here include Leadpages, WordPress, Movavi, Lumen5, Piktochart.

 

  1. Lead Generation – online tools to help you generate leads for your business. A customised combination of Google Adwords, Social Media Advertising, Email Campaigns and online networking.   Tools here can include DRIP, Hubspot, Eloquens, Crowdfire, Hootsuite or Marketo as well as the ubiquitous Google, Facebook and Twitter.

 

  1. Lead Conversion/Nurturing – this is where you establish your professional credentials, encourage leads to take some action (download an asset, sign-up for a webinar….) and move them along the buying process to be paying customers. In the vast majority of professional practices this is a poorly performing manual process that loses most leads as your “nurturing” didn’t adequately match their buying timeline or needs.  This is where marketing automation can be invaluable using tools such as Hubspot, DRIP, Leadpages, Adwords, Sharpspring and CRM tools such as RSS, Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics.  They allow you to workflow your leads and devote appropriate attention to the most likely to buy at any time.

 

  1. Analytics and Optimisation – once you have your marketing technology stack established – generating and nurturing leads across your buying process, now you need to optimise its performance and stop losing leads along the way. Google Analytics is probably the top tool here but others that deserve a mention include Adwords, Hotjar and Optimizely.

If you haven’t got a marketing technology stack – talk to me (+44 7825 215703).  Even a one-person practice needs some marketing automation to maximise their revenues.  Stop leaving money on the table and take a positive step towards doubling your revenues today.

The Opera Singer and the Solicitor

This sounds like the start of a bad joke but it’s not a joke.  Earlier this week I finished a good meeting with a leading Belfast solicitor and was walking through Corn Market when I was captivated by the Belfast Opera Guy busking in the sunshine.   His soaring music could be heard long before I could see him – the acoustics were excellent (which is more than I can say about Belfast car park prices – listening to him caused my car park costs to soar to £12).

But back to the Opera Guy – beautifully singing songs from Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables he had attracted quite a crowd with his talent, many of whom were buying his CDs for a fiver.  When I checked him out on Google he had a Facebook page with thousands of likes and a Shopping button where you could pay to download his music plus a number of videos posted on You Tube – many by admirers.  His website wasn’t active.  So what has that got to do solicitors?

I do lots of meetings with solicitors, and other professionals, and frequently find that I’m talking with brilliant people – great litigators, technically-brilliant accountants, inspiring architects, expert consultants  – who are not anywhere near as successful as they should be.   In the professional world, it is as if they’re busking for a living instead of soaring to the operatic heights of Paris/Milan/Salzburg/London/New York/Sydney.  

So why are they in this situation?  There are usually a web of reasons but based upon my research and experience working with small practices across UK/Ireland, I believe the single most important factor in building a successful practice is not being the best lawyer/accountant/architect/ consultant in the country – it is being able to think and act like a business person.

Too little emphasis is placed upon the practical side of running an (architecture, accountancy or legal) practice – marketing, finance, operations – yet all practices are a type of small/medium business offering a very specialist expert service to their clients.

But these professionals were never taught to build a business.  A cursory look at some of the leading University courses for solicitors/architects/accountants reveals a very limited (if any) set of business courses designed to help them run their own practices.

Trinity Law School provides a comprehensive range of legal courses from Constitutional Law to Equality Law to Criminal Law to Family Law on offer but not a single legal marketing course.  A look through the modules at QUB shows a similar focus – although they do put a big emphasis on communication skills (and I’ve yet to meet a lawyer who can’t talk for their country) but absolutely nothing about business.

Architecture at QUB sounds wonderful – lots of training on the Theory and History of Architecture, Technology and Environment and Design & Communication as well as skills based training such as technical drawing and model-making and absolutely nothing about how to run a business or sell your services to the public (despite the acknowledgement that many of their graduates will work in small private practices).

UCC poetically talks about how it “Situates architectural design studio within specific contexts such as coastline, historically significant areas, and landscape” but not a single module in four years on managing your private practice business.  Do they just assume you all know how to do this already?

Accountancy courses fare slightly better  – course content on Financial Accounting, Management Accounting, Economics, Statistics as well as a brief  Introduction to Marketing in Year 1 (UCG) but after that it’s optional (as if you can set up as an accountant and choose whether or not to have clients).

Yet, growing your practice requires business skills and that is what separates the good professionals from the highly successful professionals.  So how do you easily get new clients and grow your practice successfully?

Try reading my Build Your Practice booklet for a start and then give me a call on +44 7825 215703 to discuss your practice goals – that’s what I specialise in, helping practices build their revenues.

Meanwhile, I’m thinking of booking the Belfast Opera Guy for a local show.  It’s not quite Milan but hopefully he won’t turn me down.

Have you scored this year?

I’ve really enjoyed the world cup this year – even though there was no Irish or Italian team in the competition, I wanted Croatia to win (and despite me being the world’s worst footballer – I played in an office fun soccer team for two years, took all their penalties and never once scored!). I fortunately have other talents.

Still, advising professionals on their performance (one of my talents), it made me think – what’s your score so far this year?   Summer is a great time for reviewing achievement year to date – and being creative about how to improve.    But what do you assess when you’re reviewing your professional practice?

Almost 90% of professionals typically just look at financial numbers – it’s all about the money, isn’t it?  Revenues, costs, profits.   But that doesn’t tell the complete story and to truly improve your future performance you need to assess your scores in a more balanced way.   I recommend looking at four areas of your practice – get these right, and you are on the way to major success.

Financial –  as I said, you’re probably already doing this and it is in some ways both the most (and least) important guide to future growth – you need to make money to survive but that tells me almost nothing about your future growth potential.  These numbers need to be broken down per partner, existing versus new business, existing versus new products/services, sales growth, cost per customer/service ……   And the numbers game also depends upon your practice goals – revenue growth, cost reduction, new service innovation, profit growth, geographic expansion …. – all need different numbers.

Process – Looking at the operational side of your business, how effectively and how efficiently are you delivering your services?  What’s your sales activity and conversion rate?  How quickly do you close new business?  How much time does it take to deliver draft documents?  How many steps are in the process?  How many defects are uncovered?  Are you using technology to your best advantage?

Human – What’s important to your clients?  How happy are they with your service?  Do you meet all their professional needs?  What about your employee performance?  Are they meeting their individual targets?  Do you even set individual targets?  What about CPD?  How happy are they with their roles?

Innovation –  Are you adopting technology in marketing/process delivery/performance management that allows you to complete effectively?  Have you recently created any new products – i.e. spotted a market need, created a service to meet it, tested it, priced it, developed a value proposition and actually packaged it up and sold it to other clients?  Do you even know how to do this in your practice?  Innovation in professional practices is not a nice-to-have.

Now I work with practices of all sizes on these metrics and then use them to improve their performance.   I’m offering a Summer Special for ambitious practices to create a simple Practice Scorecard on how you’re performing and highlighting key areas for improvement (with tips on how to do it).   From £400/€500 – call me on +44 7825 215703 for more details on how I can help you score more.

Need more convincing, check out what others have said about my successful approach.

What your professional practice can learn from Down v Donegal.

I’ll be a pariah in my village for saying this but Donegal destroyed Down last week and we deserved it!

Now I’m about as far from a football expert as you can get (I once played on a soccer team for two years, taking all their penalties and never scoring a single goal!) but even I could see that Donegal controlled the game and, despite occasional moments of optimism, the Mourne Men couldn’t match them.  A phenomenal performance by Donegal (I’m gritting my teeth as I write this!).

The pundits say that Donegal established themselves very early in the game, played with freedom and were in control at all times (despite rightfully losing a player to a red card).   They were economical in front of the goal and they scored – outclassing Down by 13 points (and I’d say we were lucky to keep it to that).    Down did engage well later in the game but it was too late by then.

I’d love to be able to tell you what went wrong and how to fix the game but I wouldn’t know where to start and so the Down team will definitely not be calling upon me anytime soon.

(On a side note: it’s also worth noting that Clones was less than half-full – are the GAA pricing themselves too high?)

So, onto a topic that I do know a bit about, what lessons can you learn here for your professional practices?

One of the key lessons is being in control – in your practice, there are many activities that will help you be successful – staff ability, quality delivery, sales and marketing processes, cash flow, new client management etc.  And how can you control these unless you specify what you expect, monitor what you’re actually doing and measure your success?   Yet so many practices don’t do this – they are not in control of these critical processes and so they’re not scoring anywhere near as well as they should be.

Another lesson is engaging early.  Now, I especially think that this is important in sales cycles.  The earlier – and more professionally – you engage with new clients, the more in control you will be of the sales cycle and the more likely you will win the business.  Most practices are very poor at handling new clients and lose many opportunities because of it – and often when they do engage, it’s too late to win the (sales) game.

The other lesson on engaging early is not to do it for free – building a relationship is a free activity, understanding an initial enquiry is a free activity (within certain limits), providing an initial proposal is a free activity but providing expert advice should never be a free activity.  Early in my career, I made this mistake and got taken advantage of many times – don’t do it.  It’s not worth it.  You’re an expert in your field – expect to get paid for delivering that expertise.

The final lesson is being economical with your time and not pursuing every opportunity, every shiny new sales and marketing idea, every client, every moving ball.  I work with professional practices and I find that ensuring they have excellent qualification processes, a clear client and service focus and limited but highly effective sales/marketing activities provides the fastest value – and the highest number of scores.

Can I help you win more?

Check out my programmes for ambitious practitioners or call me on +44 7825 215703 for a customised approach.

The 5 best times to write a business plan for your practice

 

Many professional practices (especially small ones) don’t have a business plan.  I find this shocking among professionals (well, any serious business really) and always recommend creating one – a one-page plan is fine (so long as you have performed the necessary research and analysis).

The truth is, there is never a good time to write a plan as you’re always going to be too busy, too distracted, not ready, even questioning the need for a plan.  However, some times are definitely better than others.  Here’s five:

  1. When you think you don’t need a plan “the business one”

But you do need the planning process – setting vision/goal, understanding your ideal customers, selecting marketing tactics, developing actions.  Whether you’re an accountant, solicitor, architect, dentist, engineer, dog groomer, retailer, jeweller, therapist, tour guide or consultant.  Many people think that business plans are for big, complicated businesses.  Absolutely not, they’re for everyone who wants to make money from business.

  1. Before you spend money in your business “the wise one”

This could be a few £100 in advertising or £1000 in business equipment or making your first hires or even leaving your job to work full-time on your new venture.  Going through the process of writing a plan could save you thousands and protecting you from personal or financial pain (hiring the wrong person/making a foolish investment)

  1. When you’re asking for money “the obvious one”

This one is a no-brainer.  No sane bank or investor is going to give you money without a business plan demonstrating your vision/research/product/path to success.  However, write a plan that is of use to you in managing your business.  The money should follow.

  1. When you’re trying to get partners/associates for your business “the painful one”

As above, no sane partner will join a business without a plan.  You need to demonstrate your vision/research/product/path to success and what you want your partner to do and gain from working with you.

  1. When you’re struggling to get new customers “the tricky but important one”

The compulsion is to double-down on your existing activities to get those elusive customers.  However, here is when you really need to step back for a couple of days and revisit your business strategy and path to success.  Test your assumptions, simplify and (perhaps) change your business vision, research alternative tactics, set new goals and actions.  Without doing that you are likely to continue to struggle.

My key recommendations would be – do the planning yourself and keep your plan simple. Check out my one-page business plan template if you want some ideas on how that might look.

But remember, as the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

And if you want to find out more about how I work with professional practices – accountants, architects, solicitors, engineers, dentists and consultants – to double their revenues in 2/3 years check out my website.  My programmes are designed to be results-focused with a sustainable transfer of knowledge – and affordable.

AI will kill Professional Practices if you’re not more human in your approach

Professional Practices – accountants, solicitors, engineers, consultants, architects – need to consider the impact of artificial intelligence because they have no choice.  By 2020 multiple reports (Thomson Reuters, Deloitte to cite just two) indicate that its impact will be felt by every size of professional practice – and that means if you’re not embracing it, you are futilely fighting it and will feel the negative impact on your revenues.

Now we’re talking just two years away – are you getting ready?

Clients of professional practices are already demanding more efficient and cost-effective services and staff at professional practices want to spend more time on interesting, high-value activities.   So, where there is change, there is always opportunity and some practices will thrive fantastically during this transition.

Let’s take a look at forecasted impact of this threat to professional practices and consider a few actions that every professional practice should start doing today to prepare.

Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Professional Practices

  • Reduction of low-value, repetitive work.  In an accountancy that might mean basic auditing, book-keeping, report creation, cash flow management, operational business planning etc will all be automated and be perceived as commodities (with greatly reduced fees being paid).  In a solicitor’s office, the research/analysis/production/admin tasks will be more automated and clients won’t expect to pay much for these items   For architects, preparing schedules, measuring and calculating, planning submissions, even evaluating performance characteristics such as safety are all open to automation – and with increasing automation, major portions of fees will disappear.  The same is true for many engineers (e.g. automated development and analysis of calculation files for structural engineers), business consultants (automated business plan creation).   Note that if the professional service you are selling falls mostly into these categories, expect major reduction in fees and business disruption as alternative solutions prevail – outsourcing to non-professionals, online delivery, fixed fee models etc).  As a plus, the most boring work will no longer take up much time.
  • Shift to Strategic, customised, people-facing services. Practices that will thrive in this world will be ones that can attract the more strategic, unique and people-facing activities. The work that requires deep skill, high-level thinking, personal engagement and customised solutions will be the work that will attract the highest fees and the best professionals.  The work with the essential human dimension cannot be automated.  For accountants, this is strategic financial and business advice; for solicitors this is complex advocacy, customised legal services, human rights issue;, for architects it is unique designs, insightful solutions to homes of the future, development of homes for the autistic/disabled/dementia-sufferers.  It will also be the most satisfying work – for the practices that can get it.
  • Higher quality of services for clients. Effective use of artificial intelligence in your practice will ensure that you deliver a higher-quality work for client on a faster timeline than ever before. Happier clients means more fees.
  • Greater focus on people (soft) skills. While hard (technical) skills are the pre-requisite for being in the professional world, I return to a recurring theme of mine – the importance of soft skills to be successful in private practice.  Skills such as communication, empathy, advanced problem-solving, sales, marketing.  Without these skills in your practice, you will be lost in this brave new world.

What do professional practices need to do to prepare?

  1. Audit your practice. Review your own output and processes and start identifying which ones can be automated and replaced with technology.
  2. Audit your clients. Review current work with current clients and identify how much could be classified as “commodity work” and how much is strategic, people-facing, customised activity.
  3. Re-position/re-design. Start considering where you want to be positioned as AI impacts – a professional purveyor of low-value-high-volume (commodity) work with low fees or a purveyor of high-value (strategic/human) activity with high fees. There is need for both but you need to recognise which of your services and clients fit into which category and redesign services/pricing accordingly.
  4. Embrace new technologies and business models. This is essential.  Your practice will suffer if you don’t embrace new ways of working, selling and marketing.
  5. Re-skill yourself and your staff – soft skills and technology skills are vital in all sizes of practices. This is do or die over the next few years.

Getting your practice ready for the future is all part of the Build Your Practice Coaching Programme that I run for professional practices that want to double their fees in the next 2/3 years.  Check out my website for more details on the different programmes I run for small Professional Practices from €500 per month.

Justify your fees, please!

“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” – Warren Buffett

Professional Practices – accountants, solicitors, engineers, architects, consultants – are facing many challenges these days – demanding clients, high competition, commoditisation of services, new business (service delivery) models, new technologies, maintaining profitability and cash flow and pressure on fees.  Oh yes, the very painful, often late in the relationship-building phase, extreme pressure to bring your fees down.

And consumers do have some cause to complain about fees.  One survey by the National Consumer Council found that solicitors fees could vary by 500% – for the same service!

In many professional areas, the charge by hour fee model is being replaced by fixed fees or monthly subscription fees or % of project/value/expenditure.  And many clients are demanding this new transparency and rejecting the old hourly fee models.   Professional practices have to change accordingly.

However, there are tried and tested ways to justify your fees.  And it goes back to Warren Buffet’s quote about value being what you get.  You have to shift the conversation to focus on value.   And take the mystery out of your pricing.

So, several steps when you’re at the “justify your fees” step of closing the deal.

  1. Welcome the focus on fees. It’s important that your clients understand they’re paying for and what you’ll get as a result.  Ask about alternative quotes that they have and ask questions about the services being provided in the alternative quotes.  Clarify the services you are providing.
  2. Once you have this information, switch the focus to value. Explain the extra value you are delivering for the small extra amount in fees.  Put numbers on it (if possible).    An extra £1000 in fees gets you an extra ½ day support and access to our practice technology which will help you optimise ….. and reduce your costs by over £3000 … faster delivery (4 weeks instead of 3) which saves you €xxxx ….. lowers your risk of missing important deadlines which incurs a penalty of €xxx .
  3. Then give them reasons to explain the extra value you deliver:
    • Specialist in this type of service/industry/project
    • Know local tax/legal/building/planning officers (know how to “push the boundaries”)
    • Specialist in saving money
    • Lower risk in achieving deadlines
    • Advanced technology you use means …………
    • Your years of experience means …..………

Customers will pay you more than other practices if they understand the reasons why.  So welcome every opportunity to explain and demonstrate why you’re better.  Don’t assume that they automatically know.

To be able to do this well, you do need to keep your research on what your competitors charge current and to watch for new business models appearing.  And perhaps adopt them yourself.  It’s also helpful not to offer a commoditised service but that’s a conversation for another day.

Being able to set higher prices and justify your fees is all part of the Build Your Practice Coaching Programme that I run for professional practices that want to double their fees in the next 2/3 years.  Check out my website for more details.

Did you know your business plan could make you $8,600 extra?

Independent research* suggests that 34% of SMEs do not have a business plan (written or verbal) and that it is costing them money – with 20% of profits being the minimum estimate.

Let’s put this in real money terms for you.

Let’s say your take-home last year was $43,000 (this is the average achieved in 2016 – the UK equivalent is £33,000).  An extra 20% profit is $8,600 in the US or £6,600 in the UK. Isn’t that worth investing 10-16 hours of your time and even getting some external help to do it properly?

And these calculations don’t include the impact of increased customer numbers (which has long-term growth benefits), improved productivity, clearer benchmarking and personal/team motivation.

Of the 34% SME businesses with no plan at all, six in 10 claimed they did not feel a need to have one.   Other excuses included “I’m too busy” and “I’m not comfortable with numbers”.

So let’s address these excuses:

  • You don’t feel you need a plan – would you start a year-long trip without a budget, map, destinations in mind, transport considered, tour guides to hand? No, neither would I.  So, why on earth, would you invest your precious time/money in a (year-long) business without a “roadmap” (which is all a business plan is) to provide some clarity and direction?  Successful businesses have plans.

 

  • You’re too busy – but how do you know you’re even busy doing the right things? And, even if your “busy-ness” is creating good money, it can be even better with a plan – better customers, fewer costs, more focused activity.  Are you really too busy for an extra 20% profits?

 

  • You’re not comfortable with numbers – as a businessperson you need to have some (basic) facility with numbers but you don’t need to be an accountant. And really great business plans are driven by very few numbers – one for revenue/profit measurements and one for activities to generate revenue/profits.  That’s it.  As part of a good planning process, these numbers can be calculated within minutes.

So, Business Plans don’t have to be complicated, long or driven by endless numbers.  The best plans are ones that have been created by following an expert planning process, are carefully researched, written with sales in mind and driven by two power numbers.  And often expressed on a single page.  And if they have great visuals and graphics (especially if you have to share them externally) that is even more powerful.  Try Vennpage for some great ideas on business visuals and templates.

But given that companies with a written business plan were more than twice as successful in reaching their goals, it is shocking that SMEs don’t follow a good process to create a powerful business plan each year.

What on earth are you waiting for?  Start planning now.

Check out my Build Your Practice programmes for support in doubling your revenues – the first step is creating a plan.

*Exact Software, 2014

Fixing the focus problem at your practice

One of the biggest problems facing professional practices in Ireland (especially rural Ireland) is the fact that everyone is a generalist.  Almost every local solicitor I know covers family, criminal, conveyancing, claims, advice, divorce etc.  One local solicitor practice I know offers 36 different services.   And every accountant does accounting, audit, tax, business advisory etc and almost every architect does both commercial and residential design.

So where’s the focus?  Where’s the expertise?  Why should I chose one over another?

A growing number of practices are choosing to focus on a particular market niche. Focusing on one or two client profiles paves the way for specialised value-adding services, simplifies the market, and separates the experts from their competitors.  Focusing allows you to establish authority and command higher rates for your services.  If you want to grow, focusing on a niche is one of the smartest strategies you can implement.

But deciding which niche to focus on can be tricky.  There are a large number of options, and with so much on the line, the pressure to segment your market in the correct way—or perhaps more importantly, to avoid selecting the wrong option—is huge.

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So if you want to decide what niche to target, you should follow a process to help you come to a decision that is right for your practice’s future. This is how I recommend you go about it.

1. Analyse and segment your existing client base
Create a list of your clients and place this into a spreadsheet (we’ll be sorting and re-sorting it). You can download our template  to help   I have included a star rating system at the RHS of this spreadsheet but a points system works just as well to understand your best clients.  Involve your staff in putting this together, agree values for each column (what makes for a good relationship?), invite comments and agree star ratings jointly.  Be honest about potential – and hassle.

2. Start Sorting Positively
With this information entered into your spreadsheet, start sorting in multiple ways.  Each time you sort the spreadsheet enter notes and collour code the ones that are rising to the top.  What do they have in common each time?  Take careful notes each time – sometimes employing a colour coding column can help here.  Are 20% of your clients producing 80% of your revenues?  Each time you are focusing on the best in each category.

  • Sort by Good Working Relationship  (who do you enjoy working with?)
  • Sort by Service  (what do you enjoy doing?)
  • Sort by Revenue (who is making you the most money?)
  • Sort by Potential (who is likely to make you the most money in the future?)
  • Sort by Industry  (which industries are your biggest?)
  • Sort by Size  (what size companies do you mostly work with?)

3. Now sort Negatively
Opposite of #3.  This time bring to the top your least favourite customers, lowest potential customers, client services you hate performing etc.  Again, take careful notes.  What similarities do you see between them?  You don’t want to focus on a niche that you don’t enjoy.

4. Decision Time
OK, what characteristics are coming out?   Are you starting to have a good idea of your Ideal Client?  If not, repeat process with a greater focus on what you enjoy doing.

5. Become the expert
Once you have decided on your ideal niche(s) you now need to learn everything about them.  You need to become an expert in these areas.  Learn how these clients/prospects think, how they speak, what their problems are.  Then re-think the services you offer to solve these problems in a language that they understand.

Note:  Even if you decide not to follow a niche strategy, this is a very useful exercise for creating Ideal Customer Profiles which allows you to massively improve your targeted marketing.

Hope this is helpful in creating more effective marketing strategies and building a steady stream of qualified leads into your practice.

This approach is part of my Build Your Practice programme.  Check it out.  Or call me (+44 7825 215703) for a FREE 30-minute 1:1 ACCELERATOR COACHING SESSION on how to build your practice in 2018.   You will:

  • Get at least two tips for increasing the number of clients in your practice
  • Identify one mistake that is stopping your practice from growing