Most of us won’t remember the past couple of years with huge fondness. There’s been a lot of busyness and a lot of uncertainty (and lots of pent-up holiday travel!). Now, looking ahead to 2024 and FY25, it can be difficult to see where we’re going to build our business and how we’ll find new work. At this time of year BD planning business development (BD) planning becomes even more important. After all, filling any likely hole in your budget or gap in your client mix requires being more detailed, more focused and more collaborative.

Here’s how you can tackle the task and 5 practical professional development sessions (CPD) for even more help.


Before we get started on how to fill that hole it usually pays to work out roughly how big that hole is going to be. Here, let’s face it, a lot is out of our control. We don’t know for sure what interest rate hikes or cuts are in the pipeline. We don’t know for sure what impact geopolitical shocks, supply chain issues, and property woes will have on the economy and the sectors we service. We don’t know with any certainty what policy levers governments will use and how much work we’re going to have.

To borrow a truism – this one from the world of sport – all we can do is control the things we can control.

For my mind, this means working on a few things. The first is to look at your books and to work out what percentage of your billing will continue over the next year. What could go either way and what’s unlikely? Once you’ve analysed this you know what you’re working with and how much work you’ll need to find.

The second is to work on those BD things you should be doing anyway: the article writing, the networking, the prospecting, the speaking, the client visits and the referral check-ins. You can get this done with a cadence of daily bite-size activities, or intense campaign periods, or a combination. (If you are new to business development I suggest starting with a daily BD routine like Lucy Bingle’s ‘LinkedIn For Breakfast’).


The next thing to do is to forecast what you’re going to do over two time frames: the short-term (what are you working on and doing for this year) and the mid-term (what are you going to do this year to position yourself for 2025 – 2027). Here, I usually think of the Donald Rumsfield quote about there being known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns. But let’s face it, there have never been as many known and unknown unknowns as there are right now. Where I think there are the most known unknowns is in your mid-term planning.

One way to set about this is to leverage your plan with other plans so you’re not wasting time reinventing wheels. Your personal BD plan should line up with your firmwide strategy (corporate plan) and your practice group (or service line or special project team) plans. That sounds simple and obvious but often these plans don’t work together. The firm wants one thing, the practice group another and the individual wants something else again.


Finally, I think this is the perfect time to focus on your existing contacts. Even – and perhaps especially – in these times, clients value genuine skill and earnest insight. So, set aside time to prepare a few deep conversations. This could be with a client or a referrer or a colleague in your firm for the purpose of listening (not selling) and re-setting your key account plan. It really will pay off. 

You might even be the ‘coach’ your contact treasures.


These may be demanding times but there are lessons from the past in the way we should deal with them. That’s often by focusing on what we do well and looking for ways to make it easier for everyone in your ecosystem to get their jobs done.


In my Practice Accelerator series, I’ve hand-picked the very best webinars I have had the privilege to see, and my most popular BD sessions. Click on the images below for more and to register.

Further Reading and References

How Lawyers Can Build Great Business Skills

You Only Have 120 Hours For BD:  What Should You Focus On?

The Key To Successful Practice: Stop Focusing on Winning Work

Five Tactics To Help Your Firm Thrive.

Christensen C; Hall T; Dillon K; Duncan D (2016) Know Your Customers Jobs To Be Done

Gawande A (2007) Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance

Sue-Ella is the principal of Prodonovich Advisory, a business dedicated to helping professional Services firms sharpen their business development practices.

She works with firms that focus on positive client relationships, and with individuals who want personal, intelligent support.

You can contact Sue-Ella here or book a private 45-minute BD Session here.

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