The Professional's Dilemma
Part One of a Three Part Series
by Rosanne Beers
When you trained to become a professional, you may not have anticipated being responsible for bringing business in the door. Whether you work for a professional practice group, or you are a sole practitioner, the reality is you must bring business onboard or your earning power and career potential are diminished. Your earnings are also affected by your number of billable hours. Striking the balance you need can be tricky business. So can figuring out a marketing strategy you will stick with day in and day out. The secret lies in a vision to pull you forward, good time management
skills, and a plan that suits your style.
Working killer hours is hardly the answer. You can do that in the short term, but if that is your long range strategy, the cost to your well being, general quality of life and personal relationships will be too high. It is possible to bring in business, bill an acceptable number of hours, and have a life. It isnít even that hard once you develop a system that works for you. You will need focus, structure, and support.
Part one of this series is on focus.
The sharper your focus the easier it is to stay on track, produce profitably, and attract business.
Here are five ways to gain and maintain a focus:
- Ask yourself questions regarding what you do best and with whom you most enjoy working. Narrow your focus by specialty and client profile. If you donít have a specialty, ask yourself what you want to be known for. From there, figure out a development plan that will make you an expert in the area where you want recognition. If you work for a professional practice group, discuss your ideas with the appropriate person or committee and come to an agreement that both of you can support.
- Develop a client profile. Write out the characteristics of each of the people with whom you most enjoy working. Then go through these lists of characteristics to find the common threads. From there, develop your client profile. Make the ability to pay your rate one of your stated criteria.
If you complete just the above two steps, you will have a powerful filter for the information that crosses your desk and your marketing activities.
You will be more effective and more profitable if you refer business that does not match your criteria, because you can charge more for specific expertise and the personal costs of working with people you donít enjoy are too high. Each time you refer a piece of business, state your specialty and give a brief description of your client profile. People will begin to think of you when they hear of situations that are a good match for you. If youíve referred to them, they will want to return the favor. If they donít have a focus, they may not refer business at first, but when they see how
much more successful you are, they may ask you what you are doing. Then you
can educate them on how having a focus makes life so much easier. This same
principal will work in all areas of your life. As a coach, I help people identify and prioritize five focus areas for their life.
- Concentrate on being effective. Being effective means you are working on the right project or task. Your focus will help you to set better goals. By concentrating on being effective you will accomplish what you need to accomplish to reach your goals.
- Know who you are and what you stand for so you can see yourself making
a difference in the world. The sharper and more detailed your vision, the more focus it will provide. A vision works like a magnet pulling you toward it.
- Develop a strategic plan to serve as your personal blueprint for developing and maintaining the business relationships you most want. A strategic plan will provide both focus and structure.
Plan development will be described in part two of this series. Look for it next month.
Next month you will learn the kinds of structures you need to put in place and how to devise them. Structure provides additional focus and support. Focus, structure, and support are interconnected. Part three will focus on how to develop and expand your personal support community.
©1998 by Rosanne Beers. All rights reserved.
Rosanne Beers specializes in working with professionals in sole and group practices, who want to grow their practices and manage themselves better. She also specializes in working with professionals who are dissatisfied with their profession to see if making some changes will make a difference, or if a career transition is in order.
Ms. Beers has just published a booklet called 57 Ways to Success On Your
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