As business consultants, we are consistently invited into businesses to evaluate a variety of nebulous activities, typically driven by highly talented staff. Our primary focus is to evaluate strengths and opportunity, then apply a very intentional hyper-focused solution to 1-2 activities, creating the ability to streamline efforts. All the while, we have to stay out of the way of work getting done. So you might be asking, “How does this apply to business development?” In short, in the midst of these projects, we often see that BD is delegated with the same nebulous approach: often requiring 1 or 2 individuals in a professional services company to be in charge of an array of activities. At peak season, the receptionist often takes on tasks to relieve overflow. One observation that our staff has with regard to Business Development, is the skewed understanding of what it really is.
Business development (BD) comprises a number of tasks and processes generally aiming at developing and implementing growth opportunities within and between organizations. It is a subset of the fields of business, commerce and organizational theory. Business development is the creation of long-term value for an organization from customers, markets, and relationships.
The most common tasks assigned to (any) Business Development professional includes proposal writing, marketing efforts, trade show attendance and participation, events coordination, market research, relationship alignment, grant writing, graphics, and of course … the dreaded other duties as assigned. Efforts are often fragmented, undervalued and a suffer a disconnect with fellow staff paying little attention to efforts underway.
To ask one individual to be excellent at graphics, technical writing, research, be detail oriented, and in their spare time attend community events, be a people person, actively engage in the community (which in Alaska, can be our entire state) can be daunting, to say the least.
The alternative approach is to assign everyone in your organization Business Development efforts, with the same 1-2 individuals coordinating and measuring efforts. This is not as simple as reassigning duties. When most effectively adopted, the process is a strict regimen of complementary activities. Understand that the fruits of your labor won’t be apparent right away, but if conducted correctly will have exponential benefits including an engaged staff, improved internal and external communications, increased sales (or back log), more efficiency and measurable activities that can be directly reported to your board.
To get started down this path, take an inventory of your team talent and organizational structure. By assessing where your internal resources are and comparing where want your business to grow you can better evaluate which efforts are meaningful to your team and to your business — keeping in mind that sometimes to gain more business, it is best to outsource short term change and in-source activities that can be sustained and measured.