Business Development For Early Stage Startup Founders

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The term Business Development is becoming one of the very most generically used in the business world. Ask ten companies what their “Business Development” team will and you’ll get ten different answers. This post isn’t about clarifying organizational terminology. So long as your business is within the functions had a need to increase your business, call your teams whatever you want.

And for job hunters looking for this ‘sexy’ Biz Dev role – make certain to dig into real job obligations. Don’t rely exclusively on a posture title to understand what you’ll be focusing on. So what is Business Development? Sales focuses on activities directly tied to sales lead and income generation. Business Development focuses on growing your business through means other than direct selling.

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For example, identifying and implementing partnerships that put your business in a much better position to drive revenue, add distribution stations, or make your product more appealing to customers. But I’m an early on startup – why must i be doing Business Development? Important thing – without a plan, you WILL get sidetracked by shiny new “opportunities”.

With a plan, you can target the companions you think are best proactively. So that as the inevitable shiny opportunities come the right path, your plan provides a filter to judge them, quickly make a yes/no decision, and get back to growing your business. First got it. Who should I hire to do Biz Dev within my startup? No-one. At least not yet. As founders, Business Development is a core function of your role.

You’re accountable for planning the continuing future of your business – you shouldn’t delegate that. Besides, you don’t have money to hire someone focused on Biz Dev. If you do eventually have the funds, go hire more designers or sales people then. Or even Marketers (h/t Dave McClure). The time to consider hiring for Biz Dev functions is you start implementing partnerships once.

Your first hires should be accounts/project supervisor types. The many tactical details necessary to make a partnership successful will begin to suck up a large portion of your time and effort. You need people who are able to manage these details, not someone who only wants to identify and close deals. That “Strategic Biz Dev” person is you, the creator. How do I get started? A relationship is approximately exchanging mutually beneficial value.

Early in your startup’s life you have little to no value to offer. Growing your business is the ultimate way to develop this value and gain leverage for Business Development conversations. The more proactive you are with Business Development, the more effective it will be. With that said, early on you shouldn’t spend much time on Biz Dev. The time you need to do spend should be focused on thinking through your business’s strategy and identifying partners who are able to best help your business in the foreseeable future. Determine what value you might be able to provide to these target partners. Does providing that value fit with your business model and your core mission?