Your Business Development Strategy – Refine Your Plan

So you had a good year last year, that’s a good thing. What do you think was missing that kept it from being a great year? In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins says “Good is the enemy of Great”. Oh great you say, it isn’t enough that I had a good year, now someone wants me to be perfect. No, not perfect, just great! And why not, after all when you started your Business you likely had a vision or dream about how you were going to do things differently, bigger, better, faster than anybody else. You were going to make a difference, innovate and dominate, leave a legacy that would live long after you left the scene.

What will become abundantly clear when you are growing your company is that the work will be hard and much of your time will be sacrificed to make it happen. The learning curve will be very steep at times, but the reward will be sweet and worth every moment you have to wait. For those of you that think success will happen overnight, you’re probably better off buying lottery tickets, the odds are better. The concepts of business development are not just some irrelevant abstract theory, they are essential to the future success of your business.

The truth is, most Businesses are quite simple to operate, just not easy to do. Almost every Business operates on the same model of gathering customers through various marketing strategies and then having an effective conversion process or sales system to create a new customer. The next step is to implement customer service systems to serve them well, keep them coming back and become raving fans for life. We must also have an effective Human Resources division to select, hire and train our personnel to perform the duties and responsibilities of the various positions. All of these areas affect your business development and management.

Ideally, with a fully executed Business Development Plan, we would have a policy or procedure for every operating component of our Business, a system that would ensure smooth operations. A system that would allow the Business to operate with or without you being there. Finally, we must understand our financials, manage our fixed and variable costs and keep the cash flowing. All of this of course hinges on one critical component. That component is your leadership. You must create a culture that rewards and empowers your team to be their very best and to have them constantly seeking ways to do better than before. All of this must be done while juggling your family life, personal interests and maintaining excellent health!

Simple enough right? Just not that easy to do! So where do you start on this road to greatness? The question our clients hear us ask all the time is “How do you eat an elephant?” “One bite at a time!” That first bit is creating your business development plan.

So in the interest of greatness, take a few minutes and do the exercise below. This is the first step in forming your strategy for Business Development.

The Work/Career Wheel

Draw a circle on a piece of paper and divide it into eight sections, like a large pizza. On the outside of the wheel above each slice, write the following points; Marketing & Sales Processes, Customer Service Strategies, Relationship with Employees; Understand Your Financials, Systematization of Business, Organization & Time Management, Leadership & Vision and Work/Life Balance. These represent the most common ares of business development.

For each section of the Work/Career Wheel, score your sense of satisfaction on a scale of 1-10 (10 = very satisfied). If an area doesn’t apply, replace it with a more appropriate label. Once you have scored all the sections, identify the top three areas that you would like to target. Ask yourself the question “if my current score is ____ in this area, what would a 10 look like?”

I hope this has been revealing and at the same time encouraging that you can build a successful Business with an effective business development strategy. At the very least,set aside 1-2 hours each week to work on your Business in the areas you have identified as priorities to help improve your Small Business Management.

Business Development Strategies That Work

As a manager, one of the foremost concerns to an organization is developing and exploiting business opportunities that are presented to you and your company. In order to grow, you need good knowledge and best management practices and strategies. It comes to down to whether as a business development manager, you are revolutionary or evolutionary. Any strategy that you undertake, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem will revolutionize your company or will evolve it.

Successful business development takes a multi-disciplinary approach in that it involves financial, advertising and legal skills. It is not enough to reduce activities to a simple template that can be applied to all situations faced by real-world enterprises. Being creative in this regard goes a long way in ensuring that any new and unforeseen challenges contribute to sustainable growth of a company rather than its demise.

There are several areas where business development strategies can help your organization to grow and succeed. Development strategies based on a strategic marketing plan for example will address a changing customer base and market dynamics, help one to understand horizontal and vertical target market opportunities and how to develop the right products, services and solutions to meet the target market needs. This plan should not just be an accident. Most successful business owners will tell you that a carefully planned business strategy was involved. A plan can take either a ‘bottom up’ approach or a ‘top down’ approach. A bottom up approach is where the employees make suggestions and the best are passed up the management while the top down approach is where top managers create the business development strategies and implement them down the chain of command. Another approach is the use of collaborative process where managers and employees work together.

In order for a business development strategy to work, you will need to evaluate its weaknesses, strengths, risks and growth potential. If possible, a strategy consultant may be included. Several factors will need to be taken into consideration, depending on the complexities that come with implementation. These include assigning responsibilities, sufficient resources and establishing a chain of command. A timeline will also need to be developed to evaluate if the desired goals are being achieved. Obviously, no one type of business development strategy is going to work for every business. Find out what works for you and your organization and the benefits of sticking to it.

How to Develop Strategy in the Right Way?

Much has been said and written about strategic planning. However, the problem remains the same – there are still many managers and business owners who have the wrong concept of company strategy and strategic planning in general. It often happens that the developed strategy either doesn’t work or it has nothing to do with reality. Sometimes, strategies remain on paper, being favorite toys of top managers. In such a case, however, strategies have nothing to do with what is going on in the company, on lower managerial and production levels. Sure thing, strategic planning is not only about design of strategy maps and making presentations for shareholders and top managers. It is easy to set unrealistic goals and say: “We are going to be the best!”

Recent survey has shown that only 20% of top managers and midlevel managers directly participate in strategic planning. However, very few of them have the right concept of company strategy. If a top manager understands strategy in his own way he will interpret it in the wrong way to lower level managers. Thus, employees are the lowest level will have no idea of what the company’s driving at. It’s an interesting question what is worse: to be ignorant on company strategy or to participate in strategic planning but have the wrong concept of the strategy? Still, there is no definite answer. However, it is possible to say that The Best Option is to get the entire personnel involved in discussion and adoption of a strategy.

How to develop strategy in the right way? Most believe that development of a strategy is only about setting strategic goals. This is not so. Company owners, shareholders and top managers should answer some questions “Where will we be in several years?” “What are our values?” “Who are our customers?” “What do our customers need?” There are even more important questions like “How can we implement strategic goals?”

One of the most common mistakes in developing and implementing strategies is designing of unrealistic strategic goals. Of course, a strategy should be ambitious but at the same time realistic. It is impossible to win a 50% market share in one year is at the moment the company has only 3 or 5 percents. So, it is very important to make you a realistic strategy and goals that can be achieved. The same time top management of a company should always look to the future and set new goals otherwise the company will not develop.

Strategy is also often confused with short-term goals. Some managers want to get immediate profits and instead of developing a comprehensive strategy the design short-term goals to get immediate cash. This is also a very common mistake with regards to strategy development. Most experts recommend using services of external advisors. At the same time, one needs to be cautious because somebody else’s experience is still somebody else’s experience. Something that is perfect for one company can be devastating for another. The best way is to involve top managers, company shareholders, business owners, external advisors and ordinary personnel in discussion and development of a strategy.