Don’t fear the reaper

Article by , September 27, 2018

Like most people running small or midsized businesses, I’m always trying to ensure my pipeline for the next quarter or two is filled with revenue that I deem to be definite or highly likely, barring an act of god, alien invasion, or Donald Trump.

Fortunately, that has become much easier over the years as I’ve worked hard to build my client base, reputation and skill set. Nevertheless, even at times like these, when I’m just closing my biggest revenue quarter ever, I’m wondering what the next three to six months will bring. The same again? Even better? Or will my business fall off a cliff so high that they’ll have to use my dental records to identify me after I hit the bottom?

Of course, it’s pretty unlikely to be that bad, but the fear is always lurking. And the mad thing is, it really shouldn’t be, for two reasons.

Reason 1: There are fewer reasons to doubt yourself than you think.

Maybe, like me, you’ve been running your business for over 10 years and, while you’ve had your ups and downs, things have always turned out OK. If so, why on earth should you find yourself thinking, “This can’t last?” or, “Maybe I’ve just been lucky,” or, “That new competitor is going to crush us.” This kind of negative self-talk falls firmly into the category of, “I have known many troubles in my life, but most of them never happened,” which Mark Twain may or may not once have said.

The reality is that there are good reasons you have been successful in business for a decade. Your company has probably done a pretty good job. You’ve probably been a pretty good boss. And you’ve probably grown and adapted your business in the right ways at the right times, based on changing market conditions and customer needs. And, while you need to keep doing all the right things and probably much more to remain successful for the next ten years, the chances are good that if you do, you will. How about telling yourself that instead?

Reason 2: If your pipeline really is looking thin, there’s a lot you can do to change that.

I’ve written before about how most businesses make far too little use of their existing customers as a source of future revenue growth. Noah Fleming, one of my personal mentors and an expert on maximising long-term customer relationships, talks about this extensively in his excellent books ‘Evergreen’, and ‘The Customer Loyalty Loop’. He makes it clear that instead of being obsessed by finding new customers, we should spend a lot more time deepening relationships with those we already have. Best case, this will mean providing additional value that they are willing to pay for. But even in the worst case, it will increase the likelihood of them spreading the word about your products and services.

Other tactics that it’s easy to think you don’t have time for as a busy CEO include:

  • Visiting events where you know your ideal customers will be
  • Raising awareness by taking on high-profile speaking engagements
  • Asking your sales teams to address specific high-value prospects with the latest account-based marketing techniques
  • Just getting out there and talking to people, internally and externally, to get new ideas, capture fresh perspectives, and acquire new contacts, rather than spending too much time in your large, comfy office.

And that’s really only scratching the surface.

Here’s your task for this week.

Regardless of the state your revenue pipeline is in, there are always things you can be doing to improve it. Decide which strategies and tactics you want to focus on as we enter the last quarter of the year. And if you get stuck, drop me a line at I’ll be happy to give you some suggestions.


Have a fear-free and revenue-rich end to the week.




PS: If you liked this ThoughtShake, please forward it to a colleague!

PPS: Why not catch up on some previous ThoughtShakes?

20/09/18: Win it or bin it.

13/09/18: Get more value from your customers

09/08/18: Don’t be such a baby

26/07/18: Where process gaps create free cappuccinos

05/07/18: Five Reasons Equal Pay is Unfair


Copyright, Hamish Mackenzie 2018