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Five Strategies For Midsize Service Firms To Break Through Revenue Plateaus
How Pro Service Firms Can Fix The ‘Drop Everything — Chase Money’ Problem
Prospect, Originate, Navigate: How To Fill Your Professional Service Pipeline
To Grow Your Mid-Size Professional Service Firm, Think Carefully About Your Promise
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 7
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 6
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 5
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 4
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 3
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 2
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 1
How Mid-Size Service Firms Can Acquire Great New Clients On LinkedIn
Five Ways The Consultative Sale Improves Profits
How To Win The Complex Service Sale Consistently
Do You Choose Clients Or Do They Choose You?
How To Market & Sell Professional Services Today
How To Break The Grip Of Rainmaker Culture
How Content Impacts The Service Sale
How To Know When Prospects Are Ready
How To Pull Prospects Into Conversations
Nurture Organic Relationships Online
How To Build Relationships With Jaded Prospects
Do Prospects Want To Buy Or Be Sold?
Close Deals Faster Using Proof Statements
How To Get Mindshare With Busy Decision-Makers
How To Get Great Prospects Leaning In
How Digital Marketing Creates Sales Funnel Velocity
Digital Marketing Perfect For Complex Sales – Part 2
Digital Marketing Is Perfect For The Complex Sale
Your Best New Client Is Looking For You
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 3
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 2
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 1
Do This to Fill Your Sales Funnel
What You Must Do To Acquire New Clients
An Audience Of One
How to Attract New Ideal Clients
Are You A Content Marketer Or A Thought Leader?
Consider The Source: Theorist Or Practitioner
Why Pain Points Are Not Enough
Quick Or Deep Content: Which Is Better For Professional Service Firms?
Most Leads Are Not Ready To Engage – But They Will Be

MARKETING

How To Market Managed Services - Part 3
How To Market Managed Services - Part 2
How To Market Managed Services Today – Part 1
Why Service Firms Need A Multichannel Digital Marketing Strategy
Does Your Website Attract Ideal Clients?
Why Service Firms Need The Ultimate Digital Marketing Stack
The Myth Of The Time-Starved Service Buyer
Do You Choose Clients Or Do They Choose You?
How To Market & Sell Professional Services Today
Why You Need A Generous Brand
How Content Impacts The Service Sale
Are You Measuring Your Time Funnel?
How To Get Mindshare With Busy Decision-Makers
How To Get Great Prospects Leaning In
How Digital Marketing Creates Sales Funnel Velocity
Five Digital Marketing KPIs
Can Service Pros Over 40 Succeed In Digital?
Do Your Users Experience Content Regret?
Content Registrations Are Not Enough
Is Your Website Open For Business
How To Build A Great Digital Marketing Plan
Digital Marketing Perfect For Complex Sales – Part 2
Digital Marketing Is Perfect For The Complex Sale
The Value Of An Idea Driven Website
A New Website Won’t Bring You New Clients
Do You “Get” Digital Marketing? – Part 2
Do You Get Digital Marketing?
Who Benefits From Your Content?
Lead Nurturing Versus Content Marketing
Your Best New Client Is Looking For You
Make Your Website A New Client Driver
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 3
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 2
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 1
How To Get The Greatest Value From Content Marketing
Why You Should Absolutely Give Away Your Best Ideas
Do This to Fill Your Sales Funnel
What You Must Do To Acquire New Clients
An Audience Of One
How to Attract New Ideal Clients
Are You A Content Marketer Or A Thought Leader?
Consider The Source: Theorist Or Practitioner
Why Pain Points Are Not Enough
How To Nurture Ideal Prospects
Quick Or Deep Content: Which Is Better For Professional Service Firms?

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WANT TO GROW YOUR PROFESSIONAL SERVICE FIRM? FOCUS ON THE ONE

THERE IS ONLY ONE THING EVERY DAY THAT MUST GET DONE

Originally published on Forbes.com

One of the biggest challenges with running a professional service firm is lack of time. I see this over and over again from busy leaders who just don’t have enough hours in the day to do everything that is on their task lists. While this can be incredibly frustrating, there are solutions.

After many years of working with and coaching leaders of professional service firms in numerous verticals (financial services, engineering, coaching, management consulting and IT consulting, to name just a few), I’ve learned a lot of lessons about what works and what doesn’t work to produce growth. Here is my singular observation. Focus, not time, is the real culprit.

I find that most service firm leaders can define their top priorities with broad brush strokes, especially when establishing annual plans. But it’s the stuff of everyday decisions and tasks that get in the way. Most people seem to be so overcome by the minutia of little tasks that the big ideas never get the time or energy they deserve. This is a major problem because big ideas are the ones that produce growth.

I want to put forward here two approaches that have really helped me and a lot of other leaders of professional service firms too:

  1. Getting things done.
  2. The one.

Getting Things Done

Getting Things Done®, or GTD, is a time management method trademarked by productivity consultant David Allen. Entire books have been written about it. But I don’t find that the greatest benefit of GTD is time management. I think the real benefit is focus.

In the GTD model, a person writes down everything that is rolling around in their head so they get it out of their head. This clears the mind. When I say everything, I mean everything. This might include grocery lists, a reminder to drop off the car at the dealer, the recent disagreement you had with a spouse, that new employee you want to hire and the quarter-end financials you need to review.

The human mind, unlike our calendars, does not respect time boundaries. How many times have you found yourself thinking about personal issues while at work or thinking about work issues while at home, on your personal time? This understanding — that the mind has no boundaries — is critical to enhancing focus so you can grow.

In the GTD approach, a person writes down everything that is in their mind and then categorizes the list according to a few simple criteria. This might include:

  • Do it now, for simple tasks you can do right away. These are gratifying because it makes you feel really productive.
  • Do it later, for longer-term tasks.
  • Do more research, for tasks that are not quite actionable yet.

I don’t want to go much further on this approach because I do find it to be limiting. For me, the real benefit of GTD is not getting things done; it’s getting things out of my head so I can fully focus on what really needs to get done. That requires a different approach that I call The One.

The One

When I first started my professional service company in 1998, I had a lot of drive and energy. I was willing to work more than 80 hours a week and would tackle any task that came my way with a certain relish. I loved being an entrepreneur. But after about five years, my mindset shifted.

I began to make a distinction between activity and productivity. This shift in mindset came about as a direct result of seeing how certain activities actually produced growth while others did not, even though they were important tasks to get done. That’s when I began to ask myself this all-important question: What is the one thing I need to get done today to ensure we keep growing?

Asking myself that question completely changed my mindset, my ability to establish priorities, and, I believe, my effectiveness as a leader. This is where I find GTD and the one to be very good partners. GTD makes it easy to identify the one from a much longer list. However, the challenge with deciding what one thing I must do today to produce growth is that there are many, many tasks that vie for my attention. But which one will produce growth?

Answering this question required me to track my outcomes and activities and to look, retrospectively, at what actually worked. Over time, I began to discover that just a handful of key tasks were most influential in our growth. Most of my clients have discovered the same thing.

The activities that produce growth are not necessarily more time-consuming or difficult to achieve than other tasks. But if we don’t prioritize them, they won’t get done or will only get done at half the level of effectiveness that we need. Why? Because the one requires focus — often sustained focus over many days, weeks or even months. Most big goals are multi-phased and require sustained effort.

This is why I now pair the one with another key idea: energy. Every day, we all have just so much energy and focus, and then it’s gone. The key to producing growth, I have come to believe, is focusing on the one task at a time of day when you have the best energy and clarity of mind. For me, this is usually in the morning.

So you can imagine how I start my day. I used to begin my workday by answering emails and holding team meetings to get the day’s priorities established. But now, I reserve my mornings for focusing on the one.

So there you go. These two ideas — GTD and the one — account for much of the success I have realized over the last decade or so. People often ask me how I can be so productive and focused. Now you know my secret. Give it a whirl and I’ll bet it will produce the same results for you.

About The Author

Randy Shattuck is a seasoned entrepreneur who works hand-in-hand with senior leaders of mid-size professional service firms to grow revenues, acquire clients, open new markets, increase profits and effectively position their brands.

OUR BLOG

SALES

Five Strategies For Midsize Service Firms To Break Through Revenue Plateaus
How Pro Service Firms Can Fix The ‘Drop Everything — Chase Money’ Problem
Prospect, Originate, Navigate: How To Fill Your Professional Service Pipeline
To Grow Your Mid-Size Professional Service Firm, Think Carefully About Your Promise
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 7
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 6
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 5
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 4
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 3
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 2
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 1
How Mid-Size Service Firms Can Acquire Great New Clients On LinkedIn
Five Ways The Consultative Sale Improves Profits
How To Win The Complex Service Sale Consistently
Do You Choose Clients Or Do They Choose You?
How To Market & Sell Professional Services Today
How To Break The Grip Of Rainmaker Culture
How Content Impacts The Service Sale
How To Know When Prospects Are Ready
How To Pull Prospects Into Conversations
Nurture Organic Relationships Online
How To Build Relationships With Jaded Prospects
Do Prospects Want To Buy Or Be Sold?
Close Deals Faster Using Proof Statements
How To Get Mindshare With Busy Decision-Makers
How To Get Great Prospects Leaning In
How Digital Marketing Creates Sales Funnel Velocity
Digital Marketing Perfect For Complex Sales – Part 2
Digital Marketing Is Perfect For The Complex Sale
Your Best New Client Is Looking For You
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 3
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 2
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 1
Do This to Fill Your Sales Funnel
What You Must Do To Acquire New Clients
An Audience Of One
How to Attract New Ideal Clients
Are You A Content Marketer Or A Thought Leader?
Consider The Source: Theorist Or Practitioner
Why Pain Points Are Not Enough
Quick Or Deep Content: Which Is Better For Professional Service Firms?
Most Leads Are Not Ready To Engage – But They Will Be

MARKETING

How To Market Managed Services - Part 3
How To Market Managed Services - Part 2
How To Market Managed Services Today – Part 1
Why Service Firms Need A Multichannel Digital Marketing Strategy
Does Your Website Attract Ideal Clients?
Why Service Firms Need The Ultimate Digital Marketing Stack
The Myth Of The Time-Starved Service Buyer
Do You Choose Clients Or Do They Choose You?
How To Market & Sell Professional Services Today
Why You Need A Generous Brand
How Content Impacts The Service Sale
Are You Measuring Your Time Funnel?
How To Get Mindshare With Busy Decision-Makers
How To Get Great Prospects Leaning In
How Digital Marketing Creates Sales Funnel Velocity
Five Digital Marketing KPIs
Can Service Pros Over 40 Succeed In Digital?
Do Your Users Experience Content Regret?
Content Registrations Are Not Enough
Is Your Website Open For Business
How To Build A Great Digital Marketing Plan
Digital Marketing Perfect For Complex Sales – Part 2
Digital Marketing Is Perfect For The Complex Sale
The Value Of An Idea Driven Website
A New Website Won’t Bring You New Clients
Do You “Get” Digital Marketing? – Part 2
Do You Get Digital Marketing?
Who Benefits From Your Content?
Lead Nurturing Versus Content Marketing
Your Best New Client Is Looking For You
Make Your Website A New Client Driver
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 3
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 2
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 1
How To Get The Greatest Value From Content Marketing
Why You Should Absolutely Give Away Your Best Ideas
Do This to Fill Your Sales Funnel
What You Must Do To Acquire New Clients
An Audience Of One
How to Attract New Ideal Clients
Are You A Content Marketer Or A Thought Leader?
Consider The Source: Theorist Or Practitioner
Why Pain Points Are Not Enough
How To Nurture Ideal Prospects
Quick Or Deep Content: Which Is Better For Professional Service Firms?