It’s tempting to hit the panic button if you’re not winning enough. But there is a quicker, cheaper and more productive route.

getting new-business right

The wonderful Camilla Harrisson, CEO of Anomaly, once shared a lovely analogy. Remember the recent Channel 4 idents, where the ‘4’ momentarily comes into – and then out of – view?

She said they were the perfect metaphor for life. Every now and then, everything is in sync – family, health, work, Leicester City. And then, just as quickly, perfection passes – until the next time, whenever that is.

You might say this applies to new-business too – lots of moving parts, rarely all in sync and you have to take the rough with the smooth…. but is that true?

Stick or twist

One of the reasons I started Codefinery was because I’d been hired to set-up a newbiz model from scratch so many times. Often it was because growth had stalled, so the CEO hit the panic button, starting with the execution of my predecessor.

And that’s fair enough, right? You either accept the ‘unavoidable’ peaks and troughs, or you fold and wait to be dealt your next newbiz hand?

Well, no. There’s a quicker, cheaper, and more productive route.

Now, where’s this wood …all I can see is bloody trees

New-business does indeed have many moving parts – it’s the classic ‘changing the wheels on a moving bus’ – but you wouldn’t bin your car for having one wonky wheel. In fact, your biggest challenge isn’t the complexity; it’s a lack of perspective.

The major symptoms are obvious – no leads, ropey pipeline, crappy conversion – but few CEOs have seen enough different models to diagnose the underlying causes that extend well beyond the newbiz team. No wonder new-business is such a perilous profession.

Without knowing the options, interdependencies and risks in the gap between high-end strategy and low-end execution, finding the solution is pretty damn tricky. Perhaps amputating the newbiz limb feels easier – or looks more decisive – than keyhole surgery?

Save the baby in your bath water

Clearly new-business is mission-critical – for culture and staff retention, as well as business growth. So if your performance is only so-so or your winning streak ended without warning and it feels like you’re still doing the right things, what next?

You could scapegoat your new-business director, spend months finding a replacement and give them a fair crack at making their mark. But you’ll probably end-up where you started – except you’ve won nothing for a year.

Or you could resist the panic button. Pause for thought and get an objective view on what pieces of the puzzle actually need fixing.

Understand models from different sectors, disciplines, and company sizes. Talk to peers and people in other industries. Ask intermediaries and outsourced new-business agencies. Maybe even chat to a business transformation consultant!

Remember that newbiz isn’t one-size-fits-all and drought needn’t follow deluge. Take charge and think ‘bespoke’. Then you can make success a habit, not a fleeting moment.

Image: indesignsecrets