CURRENT: 2021-Where’s the New Business These Days?

Reposted from LinkedIn by Rhonda Page. January 21, 2021

by Rhonda Page, Business Development Consultant for Design Firms and Creative Agencies

I’ve been doing trends research since the beginning of the year in an effort to keep design firms and creative agencies informed about where the work is and what direction to take. I hope my findings will get your business development engine in gear.

Focus Future-ready

You want to focus on the businesses that are future-ready. They are the ones that will thrive now and in the future. Take a look at your current clients. Are they struggling or are they Future-ready? Below are 3 key attributes of Future-ready businesses. Read this article twice. The first time with clients in mind and the second time with your own business in mind. (I’ve thrown in a few hints in italics). 

Future-ready companies share three characteristics: 

  1. They are clear on who they are and what they stand for
  2. They operate with speed and simplicity
  3. They grow through learning

1. Being clear on who they are and what they stand for

As a design firm or creative agency, you know this and you say it to your clients all the time. Companies that focus on profit will lose to organizations that create a strong identity. Companies with a clear purpose that is real and authentic (don’t get me started) attract and keep a better team, loyal customers, and attract investors. 

Values and value proposition

Companies that know who and what they are, instill a sense of what really matters in every employee. When organizations have this clarity—knowing their values and their value proposition or what differentiates them the results are powerful and hard to replicate. Companies that will thrive in the future will distinguish themselves by their culture. History has shown us that in the most successful companies, culture fuels sustained outperformance over time. Companies with strong cultures achieve up to three-times higher returns to shareholders.

This is a no brainer. It’s what you do. Identity, purpose, values, value proposition. There are many businesses that must get clear right now.

2: Operating with speed and simplicity

Speed is the new normal. The Pandemic has shown the world that what took a corporation 18 months to implement in the past can be done in 2 days. Organizations that want to thrive must optimize for speed. Operating models need to be fast, nimble, and frictionless to create ways of working that foster agility and simplicity. Future-ready organizations are structuring themselves in ways that make them fitter, flatter, faster, and far better at providing considerable value. Hierarchy is less important. 

Decision making is on steroids. A recent McKinsey survey found that organizations that consistently decide fast and well are, in turn, more likely to outperform their peers. 

How can you adapt or change your own process to accommodate the fast-moving, fast decision-making organizations? I don’t think any organization will wait 6 weeks to see concepts. They’ll find an agency who can do it in a day (are you getting my drift)?

Why the Creatives Will Be the Most Important People in the Room: 2020 Interview with a CEO

3. Growth by learning 

Future-ready companies treat talent as their top priority and scarcest resource. They’ll zero in on three core questions: What talent do we need? How can we attract it? And how can we manage talent most effectively to deliver on our value proposition?

Companies that embrace continual learning and development attract the best people. For the millennials, it’s a must-have. Companies need to get learning right to fuel their talent engine,  create an empowered workforce and keep their best people. The Learning and development industry is exploding. In 2017 77% of companies incorporated some form of virtual training and in 2020 it jumped to 98%. Everything is going mobile-first and engagement is THE biggest challenge (Do I hear UX design). 

What are you doing in your own firm to support training and keep your best people?

In summary: 

Review your client list. Are your clients positioned for success? Are they Future-ready? Are there ways you can help them get Future-ready? Focus your business development initiatives on companies that will thrive in the new normal. Use my list as criteria for choosing who you want to go after and adjust your service offerings to adapt. Review this article again and see what changes you need to make to your own business.

Why the Creatives Will Be the Most Important People in the Room: 2020 Interview with a CE