The Importance of Business Development In a Small Business

The Importance of Business Development In a Small Business

The Importance of Business Development In a Small Business

This is part two of a three part series on the importance of having the right sales agents in a small business. Check out part one here: How to Optimize Sales Agents in Your Retail Business.

“If you focus on results, you will never change, but if you focus on change, you will get results.”

Jack Dixon.

No matter if you are an business owner with 3 locations and 30 employees, or a one man show (solopreneur) with a shared office space, one thing that’s for sure is that you are an entrepreneur. Based on the free market capitalistic focus of our nation, the barrier to entry in becoming an entrepreneur is fairly low, as is is possible to open up shop without any actual business acumen. But one questions remains: can you keep that shop open?

In this article, I wanted to continue our discussion on the aspect of “sales optimization” by examining the foundational aspect of business development. While it’s fairly simple for anyone to call themselves a business owner, the successful business owner will always be those who practice the concept of “business development” rather than just randomly chasing after a pseudo “dream” of operating their business for mere pleasure. The most successful business owners are those who operate from a business development perspective, as they focus their energies (as Jack Dixon said) on creating change within a marketplace.

Business Development As the Foundation of Success

What is business development? Simply put, it’s an integrated strategic management of all of the areas of the operations including market analysis (demand), product innovation (supply), as well as setting out the vision for the pillars of said operational structure which includes that of finance (capital and accounting), legal, human resources, supply chain, and vendor relations. Someone operating from a business development framework would begin with a supply and demand analysis, taking a look at what’s currently happening in the market and asking some of the following questions:

  1. How can this industry be run better? What’s missing? What needs to be developed?
  2. What segment of the market isn’t being catered to?
  3. Whose issues and challenges within this market are not being solved?
  4. How can I create better products or a better process?
  5. How can I acquire new clients more profitably than competitors are?

To quote Scott Pollack from a 2012 Forbes article on this topic: “Business development is the creation of long-term value for an organization, from customers, markets, and relationships.”

Business development is about a clear-cut focus on creating long-term sustained value for the organization, which manifests itself in the form of new markets, new products and new processes. You will find successful business development professionals in the strategic role of CEO and CFO in medium/large enterprises, but you will also find successful business development professionals in the role of the professional sales agent as well as in the role of the entrepreneur or solopreneur. These are the people who scale businesses, raise the proper levels of capital, do proper market analysis, decide which products to push (including those that need to be created from scratch), formulate return on investment (ROI) analyses, and find ways to eventually bring on other investors who are looking for decent level returns, to invest in said newly created business model.

Sales (In General) Is Not Business Development

As mentioned in the prior discussion in relation to sales optimization, I believe there are four types of salespeople and they are:

  1. the retail sales agent
  2. the inbound sales agent
  3. the professional sales agent
  4. and the charismatic sales agent.

Each of these agents will sell your product to the end-user in different ways depending upon the structure and planning established. The type of sales agent you employ will depend upon whether you utilize direct sales approaches only or incorporate indirect sales approaches as well.

For example, an operation that includes both direct and indirect sales approaches might be a women’s apparel shop that sells clothing/accessories out of three physical locations, with one location including a warehouse and call center. This merchant might also sell through an online catalog and utilize regional radio campaigns. Based on the setup, this merchant would employ the retail sales agent for their physical locations, the inbound sales agent for their inbound internet sales inquiries, and then utilize the charismatic sales agent for their regional radio campaigns.

However, for the most part, “sales” in and of itself is not business development, as I believe that most sales activity will occur after a successful business development foundation has been established. Three of the four types of salespeople that I laid out are order-takers, including the retail sales agent, the inbound sales agent and the charismatic sales agent. An order-taker is someone that performs a routine task of helping a customer find a particular item, purchase a particular item, or reads off a script to promote a particular item.

Order-takers are not strategic thinkers or innovators, they don’t scale a business and they aren’t involved in strategic decisions. Their knowledge of the business, the industry, and the customer is likely very limited and their tasks very robotic. As we continue forward through the 21ST century, many retail sales and inbound sales agents will probably see their positions replaced by technology automation, robotics and cheaper offshore labor.

It’s All About Business Development!

“If you focus on results, you will never change, but if you focus on change, you will get results.”

While 3 of the 4 types of sales agents do not function within a business development framework, the successful professional sales agent and the successful business owner (entrepreneur or solopreneur) both function within a business development framework.

It’s the job of three of the four types of salespeople (the retail sales, inbound sales and the charismatic sales agents) that focus on results only, rather than seeking market change through strategic thinking.

It’s the professional sales agent, the entrepreneur, the solopreneur and the strategic CEO or CFO of a medium to large organization, that are the change agents. They create the long term value, they formulate the business systems, and they serve as the core of our nation’s low barrier to entry free market capitalistic system, by creating new business relationships, new products, new jobs, and new ways for investors (equity or debt investors) to make decent level returns.

Can’t get enough? Check these out.

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This article was originally written on May 9, 2016 and updated on January 27, 2021.

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