Most of us are hopeful that the great work we have done up to this point will ensure that we experience what I call a “business harvest”. However, I learned long ago that hope is not a strategy and that success comes to those who plan and implement their business development consistently – measuring results and tweaking it as they go.

It’s important to approach your strategy by looking at what happened in in the past and what worked versus what didn’t work. In order to determine where you stand, you have to be able to ask the right questions. You have to be able to evaluate from both a “soft” or reflective approach as well as a more strategic approach. Both approaches are important in determining your path to success.

Here are some questions to ask yourself before creating your business development strategy.

  1. Check in with yourself by asking, “What do I enjoy most about doing what I do?” Ask why you are doing it and what you gain from it on a practical and personal level. If you feel the year ahead will hold too much frustration (tempered with some high points), perhaps it’s time to reevaluate your focus or business.
  2. Reconfirm your business focus and reassess your target audiences, services, and products. Did any of these things change during the past year?
  3. If so, were the changes by design or in response to market conditions that affected your business growth – for better or for worse?
  4. Were there any changes to your business that you resolved to make that were never implemented? If so, why? Are they still worth acting upon?
  5. What is the best example of how you seized a business opportunity and made it work?
  6. What is the best example of a missed business opportunity? What did you learn from your misstep and is the business still worth pursuing?
  7. What are the five top opportunities for growing your business that exist today? This could include the rapid growth of a business segment that is your specialty, the signing of one or more new clients, clients’ business growth or an overall sense of optimism.
  8. Are your daily business operations cost-efficient and working well – ranging from accounting to customer relationship management processes?
  9. How effectively are you communicating your professional value through regular client and prospect communications?
  10. Are your prospecting and referral gathering efforts consistent and carefully considered? Do your monitor your results to know where your business is coming from and who is buying your products and services?
  11. Are you using social media properly to build your business and personal brand?
  12. Does your life also involve looking after your personal relationships, your health, and interacting with others in your community outside of your business circles through volunteer work?
  13. Are there any personal or professional bridges that you need to mend to gain more positive versus negative energy? Are there any new ones that you want to build immediately as people wait for you to get back to them?
  14. What do you want to be doing five years from now? What do you need to work on today to be sure you reach that goal?

A version of this blog was posted on the Evan Thompson and Associates blog.