You talk about wanting to grow your IT consulting business, but how hard are you trying, really? Sure, you maximize marketing dollars, keep technical skills sharp, and manage staff well, but you may still be missing one simple step that can further your IT consultancy's operations: schedule 7:00 A.M. meetings.
(Who said all the advice you receive on TechRepublic would be pain free?)
I'll be honest: There are days I regret scheduling 7:00 A.M. meetings. Sometimes it hurts rising at 6:00 A.M. But why is it easy, say, to get up early to travel to a Cincinnati Bengals game or catch a plane to a tropical resort? It's all about motivation.
If you're not 100 percent invested in your IT consultancy, you're in the wrong business. It's a tough industry; technologies change fast (sometimes even quarterly); economies shift; client needs change. It's a lot to stay on top of, so you have to embrace that chaos if you're going to be successful. Anything else is just phoning it in.
So get out of bed -- you were going to drink coffee anyway. Get yourself a yogurt or a bran muffin -- the company will pay for it.
You should be using that 7:00 A.M. slot to meet others offsite, to schedule coffee with potential new clients, and to schedule early get-togethers with potential vendors. And don't forget to invite potential business partners and staff to early morning meetings, too.
Just be sure to schedule the meeting early and offsite. Even though the meetings are early morning, by getting together offsite, you minimize interruptions from telephone calls, staff, email, and other office distractions. You can get a lot accomplished at an offsite 7:00 A.M. meeting.
I wasn't always a believer in the 7:00 A.M. meeting, but I've been following the practice for more than six months now, and I've closed more new deals (including one that generated $25K in newfound revenue) and tied up several loose ends that otherwise may have remained unresolved, as well as established partner relationships with two vendors.
If you're worried that the other party won't show up, they will. Almost daily, I meet a current vendor, a potential vendor, a current client, a potential client, a staff member, a contractor or other business partner before the rest of the city really gets moving. These meetings are proving invaluable in catching up on, refining, starting, or addressing opportunities and issues that would otherwise be missed.
Then do the math. If you schedule 7:00 A.M. coffees every day, you'll enjoy an extra 250 essentially distraction-free meetings annually.
The biggest benefit is you open up 250 hours of additional time to follow up on unresolved issues, pursue new opportunities, and meet vendors without cannibalizing your regular schedule. Plus, when these meetings are held early and offsite, disruptions and unforeseen conflicts arise far, far less often.
Even if you schedule only two 7:00 A.M. coffee meetings a week, you'll open hundreds of opportunities to develop and refine new and existing relationships. That's a pretty good deal. And, as I said before, you were probably going to grab a cup of joe anyway.Get weekly consulting tips in your inbox TechRepublic's IT Consultant newsletter, delivered each Monday, offers tips on how to attract customers, build your business, and increase your technical skills in order to get the job done. Automatically sign up today!
Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.