Business Development – Solve Your Problems Before They Become Problems

Through 35 years of service to companies ranging in size from start-ups to the Fortune 50 I’ve found that the one thread binding them all together is the never ending pursuit of a greater return on the money they spend on business development. Some give up and accept mediocrity thinking that’s the best they can do. Others have obtained a higher level of return but know they could do better if only… They’ve all spent time and money treating symptoms with processes, training and tools that represent a generic approach that tries to address the most common problems of the most common companies. They fall prey to the latest management fads but nothing seems to last beyond the initial euphoria of something new. Like a child with a new toy, once the shine wears off things pretty much return to the same old patterns and process with the same old problems.

Often the reason companies find themselves in this never ending quagmire is that no one ever thinks of examining the fundamentals or bothers to identify the root cause of their dissatisfaction. More often than not the real reason for the dissatisfaction is that the company has forgotten why it exists. It was never instilled in the staff and was never embraced as a way of life.

Every business is built on three basic cornerstones: the core (which consists of all the fundamentals like mission, vision and values), the people, and the systems, processes and tools necessary to enable the people to accomplish those items in the core. When operating in unison the company is in for a smooth ride. Now imagine the three cornerstones form a wheel. It’s easy to see that if any one of the three is out of alignment, the ride is no longer smooth.

To bring this back to business and, in particular, business development, every decision made or action taken, that doesn’t reflect the business core, forces the wheel out of alignment. It follows that if an account rep doesn’t really know the company’s mission, vision and values, and if they don’t know the company’s goals or their place in achieving those goals you may end up pursuing an opportunity that you don’t really understand. It won’t really fit and the problems associated with being in this position ripples throughout the organization.

How do you prevent falling into this trap, how do you stay focused? To start, from day one company fundamentals should be drilled into every employee and they have to become a living part of day-to-day life. The number one question that needs to be asked before committing to a business opportunity is “How will this opportunity put the company closer to living the mission, vision and values” followed by “how will this opportunity help us meet our current and future goals”?

Those opportunities that fit your model are worthy of your time and money; those that don’t open the door to trouble.

10 Of the World’s Best Business Development Ideas

Brilliant business development ideas have helped small businesses grow into big businesses that employ hundreds to thousands of people.

Here are 10 of the world’s best professional development ideas:

1. Partnerships
Going into partnership came about when one party has what the other party does not have. For example, many people with great products (that consumers will jump at) often go into partnership with people who have the money to launch the product off the ground.

2. Franchising
This is one of the business development ideas that close to the top of the list! Franchising offers companies a chance to market and sell their brand and their business processes to other businesses in exchange for franchise charges and at times a share of the franchise proceeds. This professional development idea is pretty common with well known eateries, restaurants, residential maid services etc.

3. Using The Internet
Without a doubt, going online is truly a business development idea that every business in this modern day and age needs to implement or remain in obscurity. Every type of business can promote their business through a website.

4. Exportation
Products that are in hot demand outside the shores of the country are exported abroad. This is another smart professional development plan that many businesses employ, because the high demand of the product will sustain the company’s financial, management and production needs.

5. Opening Another Location
This is a step that a lot of companies take in order to serve their growing customers especially if their present location cannot serve customers who do not reside within the locality. Companies also open another location in areas where growth opportunity has been clearly spotted.

6. Trade Shows
Attending trade shows is one business development idea that makes perfect sense because it offers business owners the opportunity to network and to even size up the competition as well. Many businesses have achieved their breakthrough in business by simply attending trade shows.

7. Corporate Social Responsibility
Contributing to the growth of the community is one way to attain business growth. People always feel a sense of loyalty to those that care about them. When they purchase products and services from a company that gives back to the community, they also feel that they are giving back to the community when they purchase goods and or services from that company as well.

8. Excellent Customer Service
This is perhaps one of the most effective business development strategies in the world. People will always do business with a company that offers them quality products and top notch customer service.

9. Giving Away Sample Products
Giving consumers a taste of your product is one way of getting them hooked and reeling them in. Manufacturers of beauty products have used this professional development strategy for years and have enjoyed immense growth.

10. Customer Loyalty Program
This particular business development idea is one that many consumers appreciate and has helped many businesses retain their existing customers and capture new clients/customers.

Business Development Steps and Strategies

Business development requires a multi-disciplinary approach and there is no ‘one size fits all’ strategy.

Below are some of the ways available to help ensure business development:

o Identify – Before you can seriously plan for business development it is necessary to identify new business opportunities.

o Plan – Once new business opportunities have been identified you will need to decide how you can best reach those new customers and markets. If your in-house resources are already stretched, you may need to look for help elsewhere. The same applies if you find the capacity or skills for business development do not already exist within your business. Outsourcing is not always as expensive as you think and could work out more cost effective over the time needed.

o Develop – What innovative marketing plans can you develop to raise your business profile among your existing customers and new markets? You may wish to consider things that you haven’t tried before. It is important that everything you plan to do can be tested on a small scale first and that you build in the opportunity to fine tune your efforts.

o Implement – If your business is not at the stage to appoint a full time marketing director, at least hire an experienced business development professional to work with your company for a few days a month.

Commitment is the key to business development. If you want to see results you must persevere. If your attempts are sporadic or you give up, you will waste the time, money and effort that have already been invested into your business development programme. Be consistent.

Business Development Strategies – 4 Stages You Need to Understand

Business Development Strategies are presented here as a measure of how businesses can grow and develop over time. In his book, “Fire, Aim, Ready”, Michael Masterson does a splendid job of explaining the problems, challenges and opportunities connected with each stage of business development.

Stage 1, Starting Out: You have just taken your business from an idea to actively running and developing a positive cash flow. ($0 – $1 million).

Main Problem: You really don’t know what you are doing.

Main Challenge: Making your first profitable sale.

Main Opportunity: Achieving a critical mass of customers.

Stage 2, The fast growth stage: Taking your business from the $1 million level to $2 million a year in profits. ($1 million to $10 million in revenue).

Main Problem: You are breaking even or may even be losing money.

Main Challenge: Creating many additional, profitable products quickly.

Main Opportunity: Increasing cash flow and becoming profitable. Being cost effective is key to profitability.

Stage 3, The adolescent stage: Take your business over the $10 million threshold with profits in the range of $2 million to $5 million. Revenue parameters are from $10 million to $50 million.

Main Problem: Your systems are strained and your customers are noticing.

Main Challenge: Turning chaos into order.

Main Opportunity: Learning how to establish useful protocols and manage processes and procedures.

Stage 4, The Stage of Maturity: Your business has now grown with revenues of $50 million to $100 million or higher.

Main Problem: Sales slow down or even stall.

Main Challenge: Becoming Entrepreneurial again.

Main Opportunity: Getting the business to run itself.

You may find that Business Development Strategies outlined herein may be relevant to you today. You may also find them to be more relevant at another time in your life. It is hoped that you will identify where your business is today and will make plans to deal with the challenges that lie ahead.