The Taxonomy of Business Development

What is business development? This is a frequently asked question with as many answers as there are people calling themselves business development professionals. What unifies the discipline of business development is not so much the activities that comprise it, as these are immensely diverse ranging across a myriad of subfields. It is rather the goal or the objective: In one way or another, business development is about implementing business growth opportunities.

Business development involves all tasks and processes concerning both the analytical preparation, monitoring and support of growth opportunities. Of course, growth can be achieved in many ways. There are a plethora of activities, conceptualizations, methodologies, tools, frameworks, models, subfields, and buzzwords employed across industries and geographies when implementing growth opportunities for firms. Thus, it is often difficult to make out what is what with respect to business development.

This paper will discuss and distinguish key concepts of contemporary business development for a more comprehensive and translucent picture of this important yet ambiguous field. A particular interest will be taken into how business development activities differ across company sizes and growth stages, from early-stage startups to fully-grown companies, and the various institutions that can support companies on their paths to growth. Lastly, the value of business development services is discussed from the perspective of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

1. The people of business development

“I do biz dev”, you hear people say frequently. But yes, business development is indeed something that one can do, and the actors of business development are called Business Developers. Business developers can be internal employees hired to identify and expand a company´s business, and their strength lies in their deep insight into the organization they work for. On the other hand, there are external professional service providers, such as management consultants, who leverage their experience from helping other companies develop, identify, and execute growth opportunities. Whether internal or external, individuals of this professional breed are usually generalists by nature with the skills and know-how to collaborate and integrate knowledge and feedback from a company´s functional units such as sales, marketing, R&D, operations, and finance, and in turn synthetize that information into actionable roadmaps, also called business plans. The business plan can be thought of as a formal statement of a set of organizational goals, including the motivations and criteria for why they are attainable, and a plan for reaching the goals. The tools and methods utilized by business developers are countless, yet the objective remains to answer one fundamental question: “How do we make money?”

While business developers work to address how firms can sell more of their products or services and make more money both today and tomorrow, business development activities are typically skewed towards forthcoming business opportunities and strategy. Many sales representatives claim to be business development professionals, but this does not fully capture what business development is. One of the principal activities a business developer does is identify new opportunities. To do so, the business developer must have insight into a range of business related fields, and have access to key information that can allow new parallels to be drawn. First of all, he/she must hold a fundamental understanding of the company in question, stay abreast of industry trends, and monitor the competition. Secondly, but perhaps more importantly, the business developer must be able to take a holistic perspective, use his/her intuition when analyzing results, and show proof of creativity and ingenuity when synthetizing information in order to conclude which next steps the business should take.

Working in business development is an excellent way to develop skills in strategy, negotiations, and managing partner and client relationships. Moreover, the job of a business developer is highly cross functional, as it requires collaboration with various internal and partner-company teams such as sales, engineering, and marketing to ensure that a deal is consummated. Last but not least, if done well, business development can have an incredible impact on the success of a business.

2. The institutions of business development

A common problem facing many firms, regardless of where they are in the company lifecycle, is that they get stuck in the trenches of daily operations, at the cost of conducting business development activities. When strategy and competitive advantage are no longer on top of the agenda, focus is lost and to the detriment of sustainable growth. The balance between running day-to-day operations and continuously developing the business further to hone the competitive advantage a firm holds is indeed difficult to manage. For that reason, there are a multitude of professional service providers in the field of business development. From the birth of ideas to early startups, to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) who seek second stage growth, and all they way to strategy implementation for corporate giants, many institutions exist to support firms in their business development efforts.

There are both niche specialists targeting specific business needs and generalists taking a 360° view of the firm and its strategy and objectives. They come in the form of governmental institutions providing funding and support to entrepreneurs, and private institutions in the form of business angels and venture capitalists, business incubators and seed accelerators, second stage business accelerators, boutique consultancy firms, and large management consulting houses. One way or another, these institutions interact with companies on their growth journey and provide all kinds of resources to support them, including funding and physical work spaces (offices), professional support, advice and mentoring, tools and frameworks, strategy development and operations efficiency, and access to important networks in the business ecosystem.

In the table below a classification of business development institutions are plotted out, based on the various stages in the company life cycle. While there of course exist much overlap between of these fields, it gives an idea of who, how, when and for whom various actors interact with firms on their path to growth.

Business Incubator

The idea of the business incubator is to provide support for the successful development of companies by means of an array of support resources and services, offering a nurturing environment where entrepreneurs can bring their ideas to life. Incubator services often include one or several of the following:

Shared office space
Marketing assistance
Accounting/financial management
Access to bank loans, loan funds and guarantee programs
Help with presentation skills
Business networks and links to strategic partners
Access to angel investors, venture capital and debt financing
Comprehensive business training programs
Advisory boards and mentors
Management team identification
Technology commercialization assistance
Help with regulatory compliance
Intellectual property management

The idea is to allow entrepreneurs and start-up teams to focus on their core value proposition and leverage key resources that a growing start-up needs. Incubators often employ a selective screening process assessing the feasibility and workability of the business plan of incubatee prospects before letting hem join the program. While many incubator programs are industry agnostic, 39% of incubators in the United States work only with the high-tech sector. A company spends varying amounts of time in an incubation program depending the type of business and the entrepreneur’s level of business expertise. For example, life science and other firms with R&D cycles require more time in an incubation program service companies. On average, incubator clients spend 33 months in a program.1 Oftentimes, graduation requirements are set by development benchmarks rather than time, such as revenues or number of employees. The successful graduation from a business incubation program typically increases the likelihood that a startup company will stay in business for the long term.

Seed Accelerators / Startup Accelerator Programs

The Seed Accelerator derives much of its characteristics from the business incubator; their services often include pre-seed investments (usually in exchange for equity) and the focus is on business model innovation. In contrast to an incubator, the seed accelerator views the startup period as short, and startups are often supported in cohort batches or ‘classes’ during a seed acceleration program. But accelerators are not considered “protected” nurturing environments, like the business incubator. They bring together entrepreneurs, mentors, and advisors and leave it to the entrepreneurs to figure out how to best take advantage of the opportunity that emerges. Being selected by a seed accelerator often brings notoriety to a firm, and it is a way to quickly create momentum in a startup, as long as the participants have the experience and drive necessary. Often, participants in seed accelerator programs are experienced startup professionals who are accustomed to the process.The assets provided by the seed accelerator come in the form of mentoring, funding and a strong network effect, but there are few or no internal resources, such as back office support functions, internal marketing or legal advisory experts or legal. It is a sink or swim environment.

Services Provided By Business Development Consultants

Before a business goes public, it must create for itself an identity. To effectively accomplish this, many businesses turn to the help of business development consultants. These professionals are able to help businesses create business plans, brands and much more. Sometimes, they help with development expansion as well as the day-to-day operations that companies carry out. Because of the services these types of consultants provide, they tend to be experienced in an assortment of business-related topics. From brand marketing to start-up budgets to brand development, there are many areas in which the consultants can be of great value.

Brand Development

There is much involved in creating a brand. From a logo to a catchy slogan, a business development consultant will be able to help with the many different brand-related aspects. By creating an effective brand, a business will be sure to establish itself as a trusting company that consumers consistently turn to when they need particular products and/or services. Many times, a business will already have an established brand, but will turn to a business development consultant to help enhance the brand. In doing this, the business is able to reach a wider audience, which helps in boosting profit levels.

Marketing Techniques and Strategies

No matter the industry a business is operating in, it will need to effectively market its products and/or services. For businesses who struggle with this aspect of running a company, it can be of the utmost value to turn to the services offered by business development consultants. From social media marketing to print marketing, the consultants can make sure that a wide variety of marketing outlets are used to increase the brand awareness of a business. Businesses that have yet to create a company website for their selves will definitely benefit from obtaining website development services from a business development consultant.

Business Expansion

Once a business has implemented an effective business plan, it is then time to attract clients and customers. To do this, the business will need to generate and follow through with leads. Generating leads can sometimes be quite difficult; however, with the help of an experience business development consultant, attracting, finding and retaining leads can be much simpler. From identifying target markets to gathering contact information, there is much involved with generating new leads, but a business development consultant can carry out a wide range of processes to ensure new leads are obtained on a consistent basis.

A successful business entrepreneur doesn’t have to possess a formal college degree; however, he or she will need a wide range of expertise knowledge relating to the business world. For some entrepreneurs, the best way to obtain this knowledge is by hiring a business development consultant. This type of consultant can be very resourceful in many business situations, including the development of effective marketing strategies and much more. For many businesses, their success is determined by the consultants that they partner with, making it very important for a professional consulting firm to be hired.

A Glimpse Over a Business Development Manager’s Job

Every businessman starts his business with an aim to grow in terms of annual sales. However, starting up a business seems easier, but making it a big one is not everyone’s cup of tea. It needs great efforts and hard work to get your business on the heights of success. According to a research, it has been observed that only one-tenth of 1 percent of companies will ever reach $250 million in annual revenue.

In order to develop a business, you need to make a growth strategy that must cover market perception, market growth, product development, alternative channels, new products, etc. Here, comes the need for a business development manager. He is the most important part of an organization, who needs to work with the marketing people, internal team and other seniors to develop the strategies for enhancing the sales opportunities, thus, increasing the profits. Let’s have a glance over the job of a business development manager:

Role of a business development manager

Well, the role of the concerned person can be categorized as follows:

• Outlook for new clients: It is perhaps the primary role of a business development manager to search for new clients. This can be done through various ways including cold calling, networking, advertising and more.

• Planning influential approaches: The next important thing is planning a proper influential approach that can encourage the prospective clients to do business with the company.

• Developing a bond: Developing a good relationship with new customers is really necessary if you want to develop your business. This can be done by setting targets and proving the required support to the customers for improving the bond.

• Grow and retain existing accounts: Developing a good relationship with new customers is not just enough. What more require is growing and maintaining the existing accounts. In order to retain the current customers the manager should be ready with new solutions and services that he/she can present to the customers as and when required.

Above are some of the primary roles of a business development manager. Apart from this, he/she is responsible for making a strategic planning for developing a new business coming in to the company. For this, the person must possess a sound knowledge of the current market condition, services that company can provide and most importantly who are the company’s rivals.

Qualifications and skills required for the business development manager

• Educational qualification: As the job of a business development manager is quite challenging, he needs to have certain skills that can assist him in facing all the hurdles. As per the reports of online job placements on Monster.com and PayScale.com, the educational qualification required for Business Development Manager Jobs is first of all a bachelor’s degree in business administration or any other related field. Having a good experience in sales or marketing will be added advantage. Though, some companies may prefer the candidates who hold a master’s degree in this field.

• Key skills: As far as skills are concerned, the person should be highly motivated, problem solver and must have prospecting skills, territory management, market knowledge, presentation skills, closing skills, professionalism, etc.

Significant result areas of business development manager

To achieve the desired results, it is very essential to be crystal clear about everything so that the concerned person will be able to focus on the results. Generally, the key result area should be:

• Clear, precise and measurable: A clear, precise and measurable key area will help in defining the exact results that have been achieved and how well they are achieved.

• Under the control of business development manager: The key result area should be under the control of the concerned person. When he/she does it in a right way, it will contribute towards a major value to a business and to the career of the responsible person.

• A vital activity of the business: A key result area is unquestionably the important output that will turn out to be an input to the next result area.

All the above information will surely help you to get an idea about the job of a business development manager.