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Business Pipeline: When The Panic Sets In

Firstly, breathe!

Secondly, let’s take a step back and see where you’re at.

You’ve heard of the phrase you can’t see the wood for the trees, right? Well this is one of those situations.

You are going to meet this hurdle. It’s part of the cycle of business life and now you’ve started on your own, it’s something that not only do you need to be prepared for but also realise that only you can fix.

Tackling, creating, maintaining and nurturing a pipeline can be especially daunting if you haven’t ventured into the world of business development, sales or commercial marketing before. And even when you have, it’s still pretty daunting.

What we can tell you is that there is always something. There are opportunities everywhere and there is always business around, it just might not be in an avenue that you’ve considered or had originally set out to target.

This is why we take a step back.

Sometimes you hit the hurdle because you’ve been working so hard on one or a few client projects that you’ve forgotten about or didn’t prioritise business development and now these projects are nearing their completion, you’re panicking about where your next one is coming in from. Totally normal.

Sometimes it’s because you’ve exhausted one channel or because you’ve limited yourself to a particular niche and are now blinkered to it. Again, totally normal.

Don’t beat yourself up. We all start out with a particular plan for our business, and it usually follows a different path. So what can you do if you suddenly find yourself panicking about where your next bit of work is.

Checklist of Options

  1. Who else can help you connect with people? Are there businesses or people who could act as partners that you could reach out to help expand your network?

  2. Who are you current clients? Are there any opportunities within these to expand your portfolio of services? Perhaps they could recommend you to their peers?

  3. Might advertising or a promotional campaign work to your advantage? Spending a bit of budget could be worthwhile if a few clients come through from it.

  4. Could you widen the criteria of your target audience to a different sector perhaps or indeed, the opposite, and double down on creating an expert niche for yourself and business?

  5. Not for a pandemic social-distancing type of year but attending networking and industry events puts you in a great position to create serendipitous meetings with prospects. Even in a pandemic there are still events being put on, all of which are being improved continuously, perhaps offering yourself as a speaker could help to raise your profile and spark an interest in your services.

The key is to not be embarrassed to ask for work.

We spend so long trying to convince everyone that we’re doing great that it starts to manifest in our heads that it’s a failure to ask for work (or help). It absolutely isn’t. Everybody is looking for work all the time, whether you are a freelancer, agency or business. A favourite Geordie phrase springs to mind and has never been more apt than for this situation, shy bairns get nowt.

So ask. You’ll be surprised by how many people are happy to help.

Don't Wait

Panicking doesn’t help anything. Of course, it can be a self indulgent release for a bit but make sure it lasts only a day, then make a plan and move forward.

You won’t get out of it if you sit at home waiting for someone to call. Try different things, get out of your comfort zone, cold call people, offer your services to a different audience, chase your contacts, ask for help, discuss with peers or friends, spend some money.

Persistence is the key and relationships take a while to build so bear that in mind and be open to new ideas and avenues to pursue.

What’s your best business development advice? Particularly during challenging times, how have you managed to maintain a good pipeline? Sharing is Caring, let us know in the comments.

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