A year already - Drum roll please - Not giving away anything else here - Seasonal greetings!
As befits this time of year, please indulge me in a spot of reflection.
It is just over a year since the Climbing Mount Audacity series started. If you were onboard this far back, you might remember that I set out to share everything I know about how to build an awesome professional service firm (and enjoy the journey en route!) – plus general musings on our Method Grid journey.
Essentially, I sought – over time – to build a comprehensive content resource for professional service firm leaders.
My initial aim was to write a blog a week – at least for this first year – and I was (broadly) successful in this (admittedly, there have been a few gaps in recent months as the pace of development, and take-up, of Method Grid has grown).
As every business leader knows, the challenge of finding time for future-facing, business-critical activities (such as marketing) outside of the core everyday-focus on business-development, product-development and client support is well – just that – a challenge!
That all said, this content generation effort has most certainly paid off and, as such, I can heartily recommend the time investment in (targeted) content marketing. In a future essay, I will talk about content-marketing some more in terms of the actual effort required, related tips – alongside a wider discussion on marketing channels and campaign ideas.
But I digress. What I want to do in this end-of-year blog is – in the spirit of a cheesy Christmas TV show – reveal the top five (Climbing Mount Audacity) blogs of the year as voted for by actual readership numbers (courtesy of Google Analytics).
What topics of professional service firm development most caught your attention in 2018?
Following the usual format of reversed order and a staged, theatrical pause before I reveal the number one post (a post that receives 10x more visits than the next high-performing page!), I give you the Top-Five-of-2018 blogs from the Climbing Mount Audacity Series.
Number 5: What motivates employees?
This blog captured a major piece of research I undertook in 2017 – looking in detail at what motivates people to work. The best firms have highly motivated workforces – this reality sits at the heart of their success – so I sought to empirically ascertain what is it that they do differently to forge this special quality?
The results from the research were truly fascinating; indeed – with some editorial flourish – I described the revealed results (of my econometric regression on c. 400 responses) as the most important equation a business leader need ever know. And I meant it.
This blog talks about the context behind the research – with the full findings available in a 53pp report that you can download from there >
Number 4: What makes a professional service firm successful?
This blog (actually a related series of four blogs) came about as a function of an annual, three-day event I have run for the last six years – for professional service firm leaders seeking to understand what makes a professional service firm successful.
Attendees range from directors of $multi-million established companies seeking a growth inflection point through to the aspirational entrepreneur making final plans to leave employment and start-up a new business.
To kick-off this course, I briefly describe my personal entrepreneurial story – from singleton start-up to c. £20m sale in five years – in order that all subsequent references to it are given context. Rather than deliver this as a dull, chronological discourse I forced myself, when developing the original materials, to reflect on this fortunate journey and muster my personal thoughts as to the top ten success factors – to take delegates quickly to the root of the entrepreneurial challenge.
This mini blog series starts here >
What makes a professional service firm successful?
Number 3: Seven wakeful practices of dangerous entrepreneurs
This was somewhat of a whimsical, right-field essay but one that clearly caught the eye of many.
The enjoy the journey en route clause (of the Climbing Mount Audacity mission) is far from a throw-away line. As I mentioned in this blog, I have seen many ‘successful’ entrepreneurs who are unhappy and unresolved – typically as a function of poor health and an atrophy of relationships that has accompanied their myopic business focus. So, I felt it important also, occasionally, to digress into a more philosophical frame. This is one such essay.
I have had the privilege of working with many hugely talented colleagues and professional acquaintances over the years; in this blog, I wanted to share my observations as to seven common wakeful practices of such dangerous entrepreneurs.
As an aside, the dangerous term refers to one of my all-time favourite quotes – as revealed in this bronze-placed essay >
Seven wakeful practices of dangerous entrepreneurs
Number 2: Building a firm-wide sales capability
The popularity of this second-place blog is not surprising.
The most common conversation I have with professional service firm seniors, from singleton entrepreneurs to MDs of multi-million revenue companies is a variant of “how do we win more work?”. Working on the premise you are brilliant at what you do (my starting assumption throughout the blog series) then the nub of the entrepreneurial challenge is the answer to this question: you need to build a systematic sales capability.
The highlighted word is critical. There are some lucky businesses that fire out of the blocks with a great first client – which fuels some early successes. Many companies will have one or two gifted business developers who sell work in an idiosyncratic, mysterious way. Everyone else just clutches a good luck charm and hopes the ride continues. Exposure to a small portfolio of clients and/or unpredictable forward income (as reliant on specific people cf. a firm-wide capability) means such companies are virtually worthless or, at best, value-capped.
This essay goes on to explain what a systematic sales capability looks like and how you might go about putting one in place. This blog was the first in a fourteen-part series on selling that you might wish to further explore >
Building a firm-wide sales capability
So now for that inexorably long pause – cue heartbeat backing track – presenter to look wistfully at the camera.
I give you the Number One Blog of 2018.
A post that regularly receives over 10 * the number of visits than any other blog post.
A post that, I suspect, has now received more visits than all of the Climbing Mount Audacity blogs put together.
The most visited page – and – the page that people spend most time reading.
Five minutes, 27 seconds on average – if you were interested?
The Number One Blog of 2018 is ….
Has this achieved the effect?
Number 1: Valuation of a professional services firm
I get it.
It all starts here.
Everyone – sensibly – wants to know how professional service firms are typically valued.
As I mention in this essay’s prelude, if the Climbing Mount Audacity series is all about building an awesome professional service business then it makes sense to first understand how awesomeness (or value) is typically measured!
If you haven’t already done so, I commend you to revise yourself in these fundamentals – axiomatic as they are to all your company-build investment decisions (time/energy/money) in the future >
Valuation of a professional services firm
So, what’s next?
Well, thats a wrap on 2018.
Next year, I will continue to write on a range of topics – all seeking to get under the skin of what makes the best professional service firms (and leaders) thrive.
Hopefully, you’ll join us on this journey. It’s totally free, and you don’t have to be a Method Grid customer (though you’re more than welcome to sign up for a free account here).
We’ll be releasing a new post each week. To get each post emailed to you as soon as it’s published, sign up for the Climbing Mount Audacity mailing list below.
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Wishing all readers a restful seasonal break and every ascendant personal and professional success in 2019.
Have something you want to hear more about in the New Year? Let me know in the comments below or via Twitter.