Losers make excuses. Winners develop attitude.

John Maffioli founded the BDLN in 2014 after spending eight years at EY, the last two as strategic growth markets director. John is also the founder of both FEBE, a network of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs, and Maxop, a training and recruitment company for the professional services sector.


I saw a post last week. Someone was writing about their experiences at the recent ICAEW practice conference. They wrote that many of the attendees at the conference said “lack of time” was the main reason they weren’t out in the market winning work or able to think about their firm’s strategy.

The same old excuse yet again. And yet again, I call it nonsense.

Saying you don’t have time for business development is more than just an excuse. It’s an absolute kop-out. And here’s why. As the recession hit and the work dried up something interesting happened. Business owners, boards of directors, entrepreneurs – anyone who was a buyer of professional services – were suddenly inundated by an unprecedented number of lawyers and accountants trying to sell to them.

This had two key effects. First it eroded loyalties buyers had to their existing advisers. Secondly, it opened the minds of these buyers to the full, new and exciting range of firms and services they hadn’t considered before. They were exposed to more great ideas and better insight. All delivered with energy and enthusiasm and from firms who were hungry to win work. A dangerous combination for any incumbent business adviser…

And, post-recession, it’s this hunger that continues to drive winning firms forward. Firms who realise the way to grow market share is to build a book of new work. Firms who refuse to rely on the referrals they enjoyed before times got tough. Firms that demonstrate the ability to win new opportunities with new clients and win more work with their existing clients.

Those firms and individuals who adopt that winning mentality. That attitude. An attitude that will power them to getting meetings with new clients. Your clients…

Through the BDLN, I’ve met and interviewed some of the most prolific professionals in the industry. They have never, ever, ever used “lack of time” as an excuse for doing what they’re supposed to do. That is, getting out into the market, creating strong personal brands. Getting their firms proposition out to potential clients.

Lack of time doesn’t wash. Business development should be at the front of your mind every day. Whether that’s looking at LinkedIn for 15 minutes, and commenting and sharing a post from a connection you’re building a relationship with. Whether it’s reading the FT or a publication in the industry or sector you focus on. And – here’s a thought – why not share it with your client? (“I read this and I thought of you…”). Perhaps it’s a breakfast or a lunch networking event. Or one evening a week. But do it. Own it. Make it count. Make sure you are involved and you give it everything when you’re there.

It doesn’t just take time to develop business or a practice. It takes attitude. Isn’t it time you got some?