Business Development Tips for Startups: Part 1

Business Development is vital to your startup. If sales is the backbone of business, business development is then the spine of sales. It goes way beyond “networking,” requiring strategy, forward thinking and discipline. Here are some tips that might help you sharpen your business development skills. Note that most of these hints overlap with each other and yield way better results when orchestrated altogether:

  1. Think strategically. Business development is not sales. It would take a separate article to describe the many differences between the two, but, simply put, sales is transactional while business development is strategic. While sales is about taking a specific product or service and selling it, business development is more about identifying new strategic opportunities and building alliances that, granted, would eventually lead to more sales. I meet many startups looking for investment “mainly to increase salesforce” while there are countless easier ways to access the same customers or partners. How?
  1. Know the importance of ecosystems. Regardless of the nature of your business, people you’d need to do business with (whether as partners or customers or suppliers) are already connected in one or few micro-networks. Understand the landscape of your industry and try to map strategic alliances and access points to these clusters rather than starting with 1-1 relationships only. It’s more scalable, less costly and faster.
  1. Conquer and divide. Am I hinting that 1-1 relationships are not important? Not at all. At the end of the day it’s all about personal relationships. Once you have scaled horizontally and identified or accessed these micro-networks or clusters, it’s time to dig down and build personal relationships. Stay tuned for a future post on building personal relationships.
  1. Don’t just be a hunter, be a sniper. Here’s another difference with sales: salespeople are either “farmers” or “hunters.” To me, good business developers are snipers. Once they have identified a possible target deal, they have that laser-sharp focus and determination that makes it happen. Time is a luxury you don’t have, so don’t spend it all on “strategizing” and collecting business cards. Instead try to identify your “big deal” quickly and then focus on achieving it and moving forward.
  1. Become a connector. Helping people make money by introducing them to each other is one of the most useful tools that smart and successful business developers use. Creating value for third parties will always bring benefit back to you, one way or another. How and why? I wish I could explain it scientifically, but I just know that it works for me and I see it working marvelously for every successful entrepreneur and business person I meet.

This article was published on Wamda.


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