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Business Development And Shorter Lines

Waiting in Line
I remember doing some channel surfing many moons ago and coming across George Carlin doing a bit about how all we really need in life is a ‘place for our stuff’. He went on to say that all life is about is finding a place for your stuff. Your house is really nothing but a place for your stuff with a roof. When you go on vacation, you take a smaller version of your stuff but you will still have a place for your stuff.

In the same spirit and thinking, I will contend the parallel for business is not so much having a place for our stuff but, from Walmart all the way down to the sole proprietor, business is all about finding ‘shorter lines’.

Sure, we all have ‘stuff’ for our business: laptop, smartphone, copy machine, coffee maker, scanner and printers. These are merely tools to help me obtain what I truly desire…shorter lines.

Everything in business is a part of some type of line and we all want shorter ones. Think about it: You pull into the bank to make a deposit and there are four open drive-thru lanes. Which one do you pick? The one that has the shorter line. This also applies to checking out at the grocery store, going through security at the airport and any visit to your friendly Department of Motor Vehicles. We all want shorter lines.

When it comes to building new business, every single task we engage ourselves with involves a line of some kind with, I believe, the broader category being ‘time lines’. For each of the following, whatever process we choose, we cannot escape getting from ‘A’ to ‘B’ via a line of time.

• Complete stranger to loyal client

• Zero revenue to your first $1,000,000

• Profit margin from breakeven to 15%

• One location to ten branch offices

• 30 employees to 50 employees

You get the picture. Every business person worth their salt is quite aware of the different lines involved in achieving one’s goals but what separates those possessing shorter lines from the ones with longer lines, is the amount of preparation put into each goal.

How does one reduce the timeline from meeting a complete stranger to having that person as a loyal client from 10 months down to six?

How does one shorten that timeline to seven figures in revenue from three years to two?

The simple answer is effective planning.

This past week, I am happy to report that we moved four companies from our ‘Prospects’ folder to our ‘Client’ folder…each being an entity in the A/E/C marketplace.

If I had to highlight one item as the most profound and common issue of every single company we have worked with it would undoubtedly be how amazed I am to find the number of companies who make their living designing or following a set of plans and specifications…yet do not plan for their business.

What would the timeline be to build a 10,000 SF commercial building without plans and specs versus the timeline with plans and specs?

What would the timeline be to build a million dollar business without a plan versus having one?

-The late great coach Paul “Bear” Bryant once said, “Have a plan. Follow the plan, and you’ll be surprised how successful you can be. Most people don’t have a plan. That’s why it’s is easy to beat most folks.”

The shortest distance between two points will always be a straight line. The best way to make that line shorter is to plan for a shorter line.

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Bobby Darnell is the founder and Principal of Construction Market Consultants, Inc. An Atlanta based management consulting group specializing in business development, sales, marketing and profitability as well as executive placement for the Architectural, Engineering and Construction industry.

Bobby can be reached at bobbydarnell [at] cmconl.com

www.cmconl.com

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Elon Musk, Mark Cuban And Bobby Darnell


Naturally, when I sit down to write I try to think of a title for each entry that has ‘headline’ appeal. The headline causes you to want to read the rest of the article, but the headline needs to be related to the information being presented. So allow me to explain myself, before people start knocking on my door wanting me to invest in the next big thing.

What do I have in common with Elon Musk and Mark Cuban? Is it billions of dollars? No, not yet any way.

What I, you, and everyone else has in common with the two of the richest men in the world is simple. Everyone has the same amount of time each day. Elon and Mark’s days are no longer than yours or mine.

So, here we find ourselves trying to shake off the effects of the worst economy since the Great Depression, and a new year is ahead of us. What do we do?

I recently took a call from a business development person who was attempting to network. He mentioned how slow things are on his end as they were finishing four projects with nothing new on the horizon. I took a call yesterday from a regional subcontractor who recently lost their major client and was in a pinch. I met with a building product manufacturer this week and he wanted to know what his sales staff should be doing that they aren’t.

If you have read my blog before, you will know that I am a big believer in (1) everyone in a company is in sales and (2) never stop looking for new ways to do things better, smarter and faster.

One of the biggest ‘ah-ha’ moments of my career was about 15 years ago when all the upper level managers were taking a time-management course. This was even before Palms, PDA’s and Blackberry’s. The course came with large leather, three-ring binder, expensive charts and forms which I thought was completely ridiculous. But in our office, it was almost a ‘Star Belly Sneetches’ kind of thing (for the Dr. Suess fans amongst us).

Finally, I caved, took the course and received my own huge binder. However, this time, I once again, ‘tasted the sushi’ and loved it. What I learned in that course was, and still is, one of the best investments I have made…even though I did not have to pay for it. Time is money, spend it wisely.

If you find yourself with extra time on your hands, invest your time in opportunities which will continue to pay off when the economy recovers. Take a look at online courses; create your own leads group; attend a lecture on marketing; go have coffee with the business development person of a non-competitor.

Have a brain-storming session with your staff; get organized; do some early ‘spring cleaning’; review your business plan if you have one, and get one if you don’t; create an action plan; review your collateral material; update your case study inserts; ask someone to critique your website; hold a contest so see how many ideas you can come up with to save money and give the winner a dinner at your favorite special occasion restaurant, a gift card or just good old cash.

The thing is, do something so that in a year from now, you will be glad you started today.

Ask yourself this, what is the number one thing your company needs right now? Whatever that is…start doing it and don’t stop until it is done.

At the end of the day, Elon Musk, Mark Cuban, you and I will all go to sleep after having the opportunity to decide on how to invest the same amount of time presented to us each day. Finances aside, what separates each of us is what we do with that time.

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Bobby Darnell is the founder and Principal of Construction Market Consultants, Inc. An Atlanta based management consulting group specializing in business development, sales, marketing and profitability as well as executive placement for the Architectural, Engineering and Construction industry.

Bobby can be reached at bobbydarnell [at] cmconl.com

www.cmconl.com