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The Stop-Start Routine (and How Not to Fix it)

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Ever heard of context switching? If not, you’re not alone, but don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. It’s the phenomenon by which we jump between tasks, tools or products, trying to do multiple different things at once.

Context switching and the stop-start routine are the same thing. We’re talking about the idea of switching between two or three tasks at a time. In layman’s terms, it’s called multitasking.

Operating systems use context switching all the time to carry out multiple tasks at once and to best make use of their built-in memory. The problem is that we’re human beings and not computers.
Given that our attention spans are said to be growing shorter and we’re all used to switching from one activity to another (and even from one device to another) when we browse the internet, you might think that we’d be pretty good at it. But we’re not actually built for this stop/start routine. In fact, it’s said that context switching kills up to 80% of our productive time each day.

The problem with lead gen services is that you can end up wasting your time and money in random meetings.
The problem with lead gen services is that you can end up wasting your time and money in random meetings.

Counting on Referrals

Referrals are helpful, but a lot of companies over-rely on them or focus too much of their efforts on referral programs instead of other (more predictable) business development and marketing strategies. The biggest problem with referral programs is that they’re unreliable. 

The success of your business isn’t the primary focus for your referral partner: their primary focus is their own business. As such, they don’t care if you’re stuck in the consulting trap, even if you provide them with a revenue share. They see it as a bonus, and you should too. Referrals should never be more than a secondary or tertiary source of leads for your business.

Even the very best companies – who have legions of satisfied customers who are more than happy to sing their praises – can still experience these problems if they don’t have a predictable way of generating quality leads. 

Dropping Clients

Some people occasionally consider dropping clients to try to free up time to invest in marketing and business development, but this is also the wrong approach. When you have the right processes in place, you can do both effectively. This will enable you to service your clients and to grow at the same time.

You should only consider dropping clients if they’re not a good fit as a partner. And while dropping clients can buy you some time, it will make your bad problem worse by negatively impacting your cash flow. The problem isn’t that you’re busy, the problem is that you’re inconsistently busy. You need a better solution.

The problem isn’t being busy; it’s being inconsistently busy.
The problem isn’t being busy; it’s being inconsistently busy.

Random Acts of Marketing

When we talk about random acts of marketing, we’re talking about an ad-hoc approach to marketing where you just do a little bit here and there on a whim, instead of working alongside a cohesive marketing plan with clear goals and KPIs. 

These random acts were particularly common in the early days of digital and social media marketing, because a lot of companies felt as though they should do something, even though they didn’t know what, why or how. That’s a poor way of approaching marketing, and so it should be no surprise that it doesn’t work. 

If you don’t already have a marketing plan in place, that should be a top priority. If you need some help with that, we recommend a book called The 1-Page Marketing Plan by Allan Dib. There’s a reason why it’s a bestseller.

Inconsistent Networking

Networking is effective but inefficient. It’s time-consuming and so should be used more strategically than most other approaches to lead generation. You shouldn’t be attending events every day, or even several of them a week. You need to be more protective over your time, and there are other solutions out there that will provide you with a better balance of effectiveness and efficiency.

Let’s be clear, here. Networking does work, but it takes a lot of time and effort to produce results and if you stop investing the time, the referrals will quickly dry up. So while networking can be effective, it’s not particularly efficient and it doesn’t scale as well as other strategies. It should play a secondary role and not a primary one.
The statistics back this up, with business owners needing to hand out as many as 2,000 business cards before they see a sales increase of 2.5%. A survey by LinkedIn also found that nearly half of participants said they didn’t have enough time to network. That’s not surprising when you think about how much time it would take to hand out thousands of business cards.

Business owners need to hand out as many as 2,000 business cards before they see a sales increase of 2.5%.
Business owners need to hand out as many as 2,000 business cards before they see a sales increase of 2.5%.


Now that you know what the stop-start routine is and how not to fix it, you should be ready to learn what you can do to address the problem. The good news is that we’ve got you covered.

You can learn how to tackle the stop-start routine by downloading our free ebook – How to Solve the Consulting Trap: Fixing the “Not-Busy” Problem. We’ll share everything you need to know about escaping the stop-start routine and building a more sustainable consultancy business. 
Still need help escaping from the stop start-routine? Podcast Chef can help. We’re all about helping companies to develop powerful lead generation campaigns through the creation of a branded podcast and quality content to go with it. Get in touch with us to find out more!