The Role of Business Development in SMEs and Startups

The title of business development (BD) is ending up increasingly common in companies. For some odd reason, very few people recognize what it really is. In all honesty, business development can be difficult to explain. Commonly, the role of BD can incorporate a wide range of activities like content management, strategic partnerships, product development, monetization, and occasionally acquisitions. In any case, it fluctuates depending on the industry and the size of the company.

For instance, in a tech start-up, BD would be involved in creating strategy, customer acquisition, marketing, handling client relationships and sometimes social media management. In a larger company, BD might involve maintaining client relationships and nothing more.

Asides these role definitions, in its most straightforward form, BD can be depicted as moving companies towards their goals by building business relationships. Although, this definition is overly simplified. Delving in a bit deeper, I’ve found that BD at new businesses can be refined down to two essential duties.


Focusing on the Company’s Goals

A lack of focus on your company goals can cripple your business before it starts. Notwithstanding your size or industry, you would probably get unlimited solicitations to “collaborate”. As cool as that sounds, 9 times out of 10, it’s probably not profitable. Many new businesses haven’t properly defined their goals or done their research to truly understand the organizations that they’re hoping to partner with. As a Business Developer, one of the essential parts is knowing how to sniff out the business deals that will distract you from your main goal and detect the ones that can take your business to a higher level.

Building BD at new companies is based on the companies’ goals. Goals can be precise and specific like building a platform to stream movies (like Iroko TV or Netflix) or more broad things like posting images on an app to generate a following, build a brand, advertise or archive pictures (like Instagram). The company goal is the end game, and the responsibility of BD is to bridge the gap. The gap is filled by figuring out which business deals can enable your company to accomplish its goals and above all, how might you bring them closer to their objectives.


Building Relationships

The most important role of Business Development in any company is building and maintaining relationships. Most business developers are similar to salesmen, in the sense that they are good at closing deals, however a salesman would close a deal and move on, business developer will close a deal and focus on cultivating a relationship with the client that can result in more deals and bigger opportunities. The benefits of maintaining relationships with your suppliers and your customers abound, it boosts confidence in your business, helps your brand image, creates more business opportunities, keeps your customers happy and gives you, the business owner a sense of fulfilment.


P.S. Want to learn more about how to do Business Development for your business? Drop me an email

The Epiphany

Sitting at the back of my Uber, I realize if I never start, I would never achieve any of my dreams. If I keep waiting for the right moment, when I have this amount in bank account, when my LinkedIn experience section is a mile long, when my business has grossed $1 million in revenue, then I’ll start. Wrong.

Most people are guilty of this mindset, waiting for the right time to get started on that awesome idea. What if you fail you said? Well, every legend you look up to has failed at something at some point in their lives. There’s nothing wrong with failure, it is the lesson you take from the experience that matters the most. We live in a world that is obsessed with success, that’s what is known as the survivorship bias, google it. For every success story, there are a thousand people who attempted a similar idea and failed (okay maybe not a thousand, but you get the picture).

Where am I going with this? This is not an attempt to motivate you, if you like, don’t move, you’re not a tree. Millennials have huge delusions of grandeur and constantly expect instant gratification for every miniscule attempt they make at working hard, when the world doesn’t actually work that way. Look at your lightbulb, the guy that created that little piece of genius attempted it 1000 times! That is the kind of perseverance one must have to make an impact and go from awesome idea to amazing product.

In conclusion, I would say for every idea you have, write it down and make sure you do something every day to bring yourself closer to your goal. Like me, I aspire to be a business mogul, founding small businesses that become conglomerates, this is my first step.