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DBA Members’ Forum | January Summary

In our first Members’ Forum of 2024, we were delighted to be joined by Blair Enns for a lively conversation around the habits we need to get into, and remain on top of, to keep new business flowing. Here’s a summary of the conversation.

  • Blair gave us the top three habits he sees in businesses that can weather any storm. First up was marketing consistency. You need to know where your next client is coming from, even when times are good. You should be actively seeking new business, even when you don’t have the capacity to take it on, even saying no to good work because you don’t have the capacity.
  • Blair used a flywheel analogy – it might be tough to get the momentum going at the start, but once on the move it takes much less effort to keep going. He thinks it can take 2 years to get it spinning well.
  • So many businesses have a utilisation issue – they’re probably just a little bit too big. It might seem counterintuitive but turning down new business is a good position to be in. 
  • One member asked about the best way to turn work away and Blair suggested remaining authentic and honest. ‘We’re simply not in a position to do this work at the moment, can it wait? Can I recommend someone else?’ More often than not, it will make them want you more. 
  • His second insight was that principals are always involved in new business. As your business grows, you recruit people to take over many of the hats you once wore, but new business should be one of the last things, if ever, you fully step out of. 
  • Third, and last, Blair discussed emotional consistency. Don’t let anyone see how badly you need the work. 
  • Blair didn’t see a difference in these three core principles in smaller or larger businesses. He noted that as firms get bigger, there is more infrastructure built around new business and pitching which, in his opinion, is counter to how it should be.
  • As an industry we need to focus our attention on warm leads, the ones that are consistently visiting our websites or reading our stuff. Do you follow up? 
  • In answer to a question on how much to spend on marketing – have a listen to this
  • Blair challenged the audience to be more specific about what they do and for whom – the age old positioning challenge. Though perhaps your business is the exception to this rule?
  • And if you’re worried about the ‘bait and switch’ issue of clients buying you as an owner but the work being delivered by others, then take Blair’s advice (which he struggled to take for himself) and communicate well that you hire the very best people to do their work, and you have oversight of everything that leaves the studio.
  • If you don’t already subscribe to Blair’s mailing list, sign up here. He’s kindly shared a free chapter of Pricing Creativity with DBA members and some helpful videos too. 
  • For more expert advice, members can check out our webinar recording where we look at the four pillars of business success – watch here.

There was much, much more covered in the hour – you really had to be there. Do make sure you join us in our next DBA Members’ Forum on Monday 5 February at 4pm GMT, look out for an email from me in a few weeks with more details. If you would like to attend, get in touch here

We’ve captured the conversation highlights from the all the Members’ Forums which have taken place and they can all be found here.

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