“So, what’s your 5 year target?”
My client responded quickly: “$7,000,000 gross revenue in 5 years.”
“OK, so let’s drill down. What is your average salesperson generating now and what kind of inside staff do you need to support each outside salesperson?”
The answer was sobering. Eight new sales people, five new inside people, two more warehouse people and one administrative person – 16 new hires overall — would be needed to reach the company’s 5 year goal. This would come close to doubling the size of my client’s company. The answer was sobering not because it couldn’t be done; but rather because he’d never actually sat down and done the math.
Having arrived at a picture of what the company would look like in 2016, we then began to trace the steps we would need to get there. In other words, we had to figure out what 2012 would look like:
- How many people she would need to hire;
- What kind of business would have to be brought in to support them; and
- The sales and marketing effort necessary to bring in the requisite business.
This is a subject near and dear to my heart, and to explain why, I have to give you a little window into the business of practicing law.
Ask any business lawyer (any lawyer, really, other than a personal injury, bankruptcy, or tax relief attorney) and he or she will tell you that business comes in by referral. “We don’t advertise,” is the typical refrain.
Well, that’s true. Neither do we. But at the end of 2008, I realized something. I realized that when I point to referrals as my marketing strategy, I was really doing nothing other than crossing my fingers and hoping that the phone rang the next day with the right person at the other end of the line. I had no plan. And when I asked myself how I was going to make the next year better than the one that was just ending, I had no plan other than…well…prayer.
So I changed things. I made marketing a priority and, more importantly, made a number of significant improvements to how we do things and what we offer so that we could tell the story I wanted to be able to tell. After all, what good is it to stand on a soapbox and broadcast the same, tired message? In my view, if you’re going to invest in a bullhorn, you damn well better have something to say.
For our part, we:
- Introduced the blog you’re reading now (now in our second year) to focus on exactly what our name says – Bottom Line Business Insights;
- Started an e-mail series offering insights into business philosophy, best practices, and legal issues that now reaches over 1,200 business owners per week;
- Introduced the non-billable hour Empty Hourglass® Program to make client communications effortless, without limit, and free of charge;
- Produced the Business Owner’s Pocket Guide and the new Commercial Real Estate Pocket Guide for clients and friends of the firm…free of charge;
- Developed our first-of-its-kind interactive business diagnostic, BizRX for download on PC, iTunes, Blackberry and Android; and,
- Beginning last week, began sending weekly interactive mind map pdfs to each of our clients offering status updates and highlighting priority issues…at no charge.
While there are more changes to come, we have traveled a long road in the past 3 years to get beyond hope as our primary growth strategy. We have a plan, target numbers to hit, and initiatives we can point to as a basis for projecting growth.
Over the next few weeks, in our e-mail series, I will be delving into key business building insights from some of the best business growth consultants in the region and in the country. I will also be discussing this in more depth in our free upcoming webinar. If you have not yet signed up for one (or both), now’s the time.
I’m hoping that blog posts like this one and our newest e-mail series may inspire you to do more than just jot down projections. I’m hoping that they inspire you to commit on paper to a way of attaining them. And of course, if I can be of any help, please contact me. That’s what I’m here for.