5 Key Questions to Unlock Your Deliberate Focus in 2024

Anecdotal and formal research is telling those of us in the professional services world what we have known in our gut: 2023 was a very difficult year for business development.

RSW/US did a survey of over 3,000 advertising agency executives and found this as well as many other salient facts about business development in 2023 in their New Business Report:

“This year (2023) 58% of agencies report obtaining new business has been harder, or a lot harder, compared to the previous year. As seen in our graph, that’s creeping closer to 2020 levels at 67%, when we faced lockdowns, budget freezes, and overall extreme uncertainty.”

Similar data is everywhere, but especially in conversations I have been having all year with business owners.

Sales cycles are slower.

Buyers are more discerning.

Financing is tougher to navigate.

In this environment, we have to develop more deliberate focus, or risk slipping backwards in business progress.

The Bright Side

Whenever there are macro economic forces at play, it can feel overwhelming and scary.

At the same time,  adding design constraints can help us get focused and remove extraneous activity and barriers, like projects that just limp along, or software subscriptions that drain our bank accounts and deliver little return.

In August, I wrote about how to Flip the Dip when you feel the pressure of a slow economy.

Today, I want to dig into item #3: Narrow Your Focus.

5 Questions to Help You Unlock Your Deliberate Focus

  1. Who are my ideal profitable clients?
    Who are the types of clients that totally get your specific expertise, who have the means to invest in your services and who lead to the most enthusiastic referrals?
    My Widest Net Workbook pages 8-14 will help you with this, using Susan Baier’s method from Audience Audit.
  2. What activity or offering do I need to cut out of my business because it is distracting me from more important activities?
    We all have things in our business we have done for love or creativity that are not necessarily the most strategic or profitable endeavors. Now is the time to get very real with your time, energy and attention if you want to give your business a boost.
  3. What service would profitably flourish if I gave it the marketing attention it deserves?
    Is there a service in your business that you love delivering that more people should know about by increased marketing like case studies or reports? It is time to double down on focus and visibility so more people are aware of your magic service.
  4. What have I been avoiding in my business that I need to address if I want to grow?
    It is easy to skim over issues in our business that we have been avoiding, like tough performance conversations or catching up on bookkeeping. If you sit and get quiet, you will likely know what critical issue you have been avoiding most. Make time to address it.
  5. How could we streamline or automate our service to cut costs and headaches and create a smoother, better customer experience?
    We waste so much time in our business hunting for documents, manually typing out repeatable emails instead of using shortcuts, and managing clunky processes since “we have always done it this way.” It is worth it to productize your services!
    Start small, clean a process from start to finish, then go onto the next one.

You have so much beautiful magic to share with the world — it deserves your deliberate focus and devotion.


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