There's an accountant who blogs prolifically about the development of his accountancy business, and has done for years - readers of AccountingWeb would know exactly the person we mean. We like reading his stuff, and enjoying his account of his journey. Although he gets *a lot* of stick from some people, we really like having him in our virtual lives - though we would virtually never make the same business decisions as he would.
He generally has someone working for him, maybe two, and constantly battles to get to a position where his staff are doing all the actual accountancy and tax work, freeing him to work on business development and improving the systems in the business, and reduce his contact with clients. This is almost always a battle he loses, since staff retention tends to be an issue, and he's continually drawn back into doing actual technical work.
Fizz was started as a one-person business at the end of 2007, which we think is pretty much when the blogger was getting started too. The Fizz approach was essentially the exact opposite of his. We've never really done a significant amount of active business development. We've allocated £30 a month to Google Adwords throughout that time (though these days our spend rarely reaches £10 and we can't be bothered to look into it), and gone to plenty of networking events (to chat to people and hear their stories, with absolutely no anxiety about collecting leads or clients), but that's it. Our business development spend over nearly nine years will have been less than £10,000 without doubt.
We're now at 13 members of staff. 90% of our new clients over that time have come from referrals - mainly from clients who have liked what we've done for them. If our man had ignored business development and just worked hard on delivering excellent work and service levels, then we're pretty confident that he'd now have a business significantly bigger than he has at present - and that looks much more like the business he's been trying so hard to create. In our world, at least, word of mouth is very powerful; you just have to be good and be patient.