Business Development – The Priority That Often Isn’t and 3 Keys to Fixing This

Often it seems that there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Although this is a problem that most can relate to, it is especially costly for business owners. For those who write their own paycheck, the situation is like a catch 22. Without investing time in pursuit of business development, things will stay as they are. However, although business development takes time and won’t immediately contribute to your bank account, it is essential for being in control of the direction your business is going and proactively creating your future. Let’s look at 3 keys for making progress in your own business development, even when your schedule is full.

Schedule Blocks of time

The first step is to set aside time to focus on the fundamental task of shaping the future of your business. Even an hour a week will be a step in the right direction. Ideally you’re investing 4 – 8 hours each week in business development, but you’ve got to walk before you run, so start by picking a number that is realistic for you and your situation. Even more important than the number of hours you devote, is the consistency with which you do this. Don’t put this off until the end of the day when your energy is low and your mind is tired; schedule this business development time for when you will be fresh and alert.

Develop a business development plan

During your first scheduled time reserved for business development, create your game plan. It doesn’t have to be perfect – there will be lots of opportunity to tweak it as you go along. The most important thing here is that you have something you are working toward. This gives your effort focus and direction, which when coupled with the consistency from step one, will give you momentum.

Delegate / outsource the routine

The key to increasing your business is that you take a proactive approach to creating your future. As you devote more time to business development, you will gain momentum. Devoting more time is not about just adding more hours of work into your day – chances are you’re already close to maxed out. Investing increasing amounts of time in developing your business is about delegating and outsourcing the routine tasks that you are performing now, but that someone else can do for you. By reallocating your time from doing the easy to delegate tasks, to doing the development work that only you can do, your business will grow to match your vision for it.

Investing time regularly in pursuit of developing your business is essential to creating a future that is better than today. There are many Business Development activities out there. Which ones will you pursue first? What block of time in your schedule will you set aside to work on this? What have you done previously (or currently) that worked that you will do more of?

What Is Business Development and Why It’s Vital?

Business development is simply a broad term that is used in the process of reinforcing ties with existing customers/clients as well as luring clients in various areas of the consumer market. To accomplish this objective, professional development usually crosses conventional barriers between marketing, sales, operations, management and customer care in order to ensure that this process is promoted on more than one level. In order words, business development expert should be able to demonstrate a high degree of competence in a variety of areas in order to clearly spot and take advantage of growth opportunities.

Assessing the present assets of a business as they relate to the expansion and the maintenance of the company is one of the initial aspects of business development. The professional development experts will then work pretty closely with marketing and sales specialist in order to identify the level of penetration already benefitted by the business in various areas of the consumer base.

Business development experts will at the same also work with customer care experts in order to evaluate the feedback that have been gathered from existing customers on the perception of the business and the products and or services it offers. This particular activity can most times spot ways to refine present sales and marketing practices in order to get a larger share of the consumers in sectors where the presence of the company is already felt. The information gotten through customer care contacts might help in identifying applications for a new product line and could even help in capturing new customers – that is, if the product is marketed well.

It is very vital to note that successful professional development experts do not focus only on boosting sales or just keeping current clients or customers happy. Agreed, those aspects are also a strong part of the total picture, business development experts will also be ensure that they make the best use of the businesses resources, improving the process and role of management and a variety of departments and attend to any legalities that should be monitored as the business continue to grow. In a lot of companies, this will provide the professional development expert a lot of authority to seek information from everywhere in the corporate structure and also control every area of company function.

Business development processes can be applied to virtually any corporate establishment. Even small businesses will require this kind of activity to remain in business and to achieve growth over a period of time. Most times, including at least one individual who will have the job of focusing on the various activities of business development will make it possible to get the big picture of the organization that is difficult for individuals with responsibility for particular functions with the company to attain without assistance.

Professional development may actually take place by simply creating a section or department of the business that will carryout these functions. Business owners can also seek the help of a business development consultant in order to assess present circumstances and spot strategies for future growth.

The Business Development Process

Starting a new business is far more than simply hanging a sign out and waiting for customers to pour through the door and I’m sure anyone willing to invest in a new venture is well aware of this fact. What you may not be aware of is the intricacies of what is needed to complete the process.

Most entrepreneurs who are planning a new venture first look to the business plan as the initial step. While the business plan is critical for the success of the new venture, it is not the first step in the process. We must first look at the business development process itself.

The process is not static. What I mean by that is it is not something you do up front and then you’re done. It is an ongoing process that will take on many forms in the life of your business. In a new business development it is a visionary process, in which a direction for the venture can be identified and a systematic and orderly processes can be established as part of the overall business plan.

The process should be thorough but not overly-complicated. An effective business development approach is to encompass several major steps in the evaluating process including: your identification of the opportunity; what are your committed resources; the actual development of your business proposal; market evaluation; competition; and your time restraints. A successful business development process is being able to get a clear and concise evaluation of the inherent strengths and weaknesses, goals and issues that face the development of your new venture.

One very important part of the whole process is creating an identity; designing a logo and establishing brand recognition, and product awareness.

Regardless how much you know about the business your in the development process will be an incredible learning experience.

Business Development 101

In my 25 years of being in and around sales, marketing and advertising, it surprises me how many small business owners don’t have someone working on business development. Many owners and managers I’ve met should be the “biz dev” person but just don’t have the desire or truly understand what to do. I think this comes back to a few things, fear of sales, pride, and/or social interaction. In other words they look at themselves as the President of their small business and are unwilling to go out and pound the pavement for a few hours every week. Some even use the excuse of being tooo busy, but constantly whine about how bad business is.

Many a sales person I come across is caught up in chasing after the next sale, wasting so much time during the day instead of constantly developing and cultivating a large pipeline of prospects. I see them reading the paper, surfing the internet or standing around yackin’ about the weather and recession. These actions show laziness, lack of focus, and desire or unwillingness to venture out. In other words they aren’t hungry enough. If you work around people like this, I would recommend that you step away from the pack and make a positive change.

Whether your business is online or offline, business development should be an integral part of your sales and marketing plans.

What can you do to enhance your business development skills? Consider implementing these 6 steps:

  1. Learn the art of cultivating relationships. Read books, listen to MP3’s and then take what you learn to polish your people skills. Develop and use personal relationship marketing to better your relationships.
  2. Get involved in the industry, not just the companies you are looking to engage with. If you are tuned in, the opportunities might come your way. If you’re tuned out, then they’ll pass you by.
  3. When an opportunity comes your way, take action immediately. Communicate. Pick up the phone, send an email, and get the process moving in a positive direction.
  4. Learn and engage in different kinds of online social media. It’s great for networking, market research and keeping a pulse on what’s happening in your industry. But make sure to test what you do and don’t get too caught up in socializing.
  5. Plan the work and work the business development plan on a weekly basis. This way you stay consistent and persistent all year long. To many people give up or don’t stay at it long enough to get traction.
  6. Find a mentor to guide and counsel you. This last step is crucial and I believe will truly make a difference if you’ll find someone who is willing to help you in your endeavors. It might take a month or even up to a year to find the right person and/or persons.

The bottom line with business development is that it starts with you. So start where you are, make a plan, take action, and stay focused on a daily and weekly basis.