This week Americans enjoyed a four-day workweek thanks to Labor Day. While I appreciated the long weekend, I must confess I didn't give much thought to the significance of the holiday. In case you too need a refresher, Labor Day—established nationally in 1894—honors the sacrifices that workers have made to benefit the country's prosperity and well-being (thank you Wikipedia).
We all recognize that prosperity and well-being require considerable effort, but many choose to live in denial of that fact when it comes to business development. There are those who are only willing to dedicate themselves to work that yields a benefit in the short-term. They swap their billable hours for money, expecting the next client project or assignment to fall onto their desks like mana from heaven. But in today's service firm economy, being a traditional laborer does not ensure the job security it once did. Those whose contributions do not include the origination of new revenue will find that their increasing salaries eventually hit a low ceiling. There may be a place for them at the firm, but not at the table where the high-earners and decision-makers sit.
It all boils down to a simple choice: which sacrifice are you willing to make?
On the one hand, you can sacrifice job security, professional liberty, and leadership in exchange for an agenda free of business development.
Or you can make the other sacrifice. Perhaps you will have to bill fewer hours so that you have the bandwidth to develop relationships. Perhaps you will have to spend less time with your family as you attend happy hour mixers and dinners. Perhaps you will have to draw upon reserves of money and energy as you add one more business trip to your busy calendar. You may even have to be uncharacteristically assertive as you go about pitching your services. These sacrifices are all part of the business development game.
Your choice will be determined by the specific labors you are willing to contribute and the liberties you wish to enjoy.