Business development in 2022 has become an inseparable part of every successful startup & business. It seems that nothing can progress without the presence of a business developer and his/her special skills. The level of sophistication and attention to detail a professional business developer brings into the business ecosystem is the master key to the success of that business or startup.
Business developers are complex fellows that didn’t learn all the required skills overnight. Business development requires a lot of skills in a lot of different areas, and business developers are always learning new things day by day & project by project. Business developers simply help you Start a Business and set you on the path to success. In general, they help your business to achieve a set goal. It could be higher sales, more clients, more revenue, better publicity, etc.
In this article, we are going to have an in-depth look into the skills business developers should have to be able to devise plans to make businesses better. The skills mentioned in this article are mostly the general skills across all business developers regardless of their areas of specialties. Some business developers may need even more skills and that depends on the complexity and difficulty of their projects and businesses.
Top 5 Business Development Skills [Video]
Watch this video from my YouTube channel if you’re not in the mood of reading an article today.
Areas of Specialties
For every category of business out there, there is a specific business developer. Let’s say we have 50 business categories, then we have 50 types of business developers specialized in those specific categories. Their area of specialty is just limited to a certain kind of business. Although we have some business developers calling themselves know-it-all, professional business developers are skilled at certain businesses.
For example, I am only focused on online & eCommerce businesses when it comes to business development. There are business developers specialized in app development, SaaS, and software development. Many only help websites and blogs to grow, and some are working on more recent tech-related startups like AI or Cryptocurrencies.
It’s not limited to online business too. All industries, corporations, and companies do need business developers to improve. It’s just a bit different in big companies. They don’t hire a business developer to do the job, but they hire a team for their business development department. Their goal and specialty will become the growth of the hiring company. In this case, business developers are full-time employees of a company, and their only concern is the overall development and growth of that company, no matter how!
Generally, business development is a promising title with high demands across all types of businesses and markets. The issue here is How to Become a Business Developer, which is not as easy as it sounds. Business developers require a lot more skills than those Freelancer Skills. They also require more experience in real-life situations and real-world data. This will take time, energy, and resource, but it will end happily if you really want such fancy job titles.
How to Categorize Skills?
Prior to writing this article, I did extensive research on the subject of business developer skills. There are a lot of articles out there, many of which you might have read before. The problem with most articles that I’ve read, and they were articles that came up on the first page of Google when you search for “Business Developer Skills”, was that they were written only for the purpose of higher SERP (Search Engine Result Page) rank.
It’s sad when you see an article listing 100 skills when it could be optimized to 8 or 10 skills to avoid readers’ confusion. The problem lies within the current system we use to categorize skills for business developers. There is three main categorization system used for separating business developers’ skills:
- Inherited & Acquired Skills
- Personal & Technical Skills
- Soft & Hard Skills
All of the above three category systems tell you one thing. There are skills that you have to learn (e.g. business planning) and skills that you have to acquire (e.g. curiosity). There is nothing wrong with such categorization systems, but they are not suitable for business developer skills.
Such categorization originally came from resume writing and employment CVs. They are still fine if you want to include them in your resume as a business developer, but for categorizing and organizing what to learn to become a business developer, we have to rely on something else; A new system perhaps!
I’m Too Old for Those Systems!
I want to propose a special system for categorizing skills for business developers. I actually devised it a few months before by listing everything I knew, the skills my business developer friends had, and important skills mentioned in books and articles about business development. I put them into five separate categories to facilitate teaching and relating skills to broader sets, and name it The Pentagon of Business Development.
The Pentagon of Business Development (TPBD) or The Five-Pillar System depending on how you look at the pentagon, is an easy-to-understand system of categorization for skills a business developer to learn. There are no new or special skills involved, but it is just easier to organize what to learn and how to relate each sub-skill to a broader master skill that I think many of us already know. TPBD is also useful if you want to Make Money Online since most of the skills business developers know are similar to those of a freelancer.
I will talk about how to use this system to learn skills. Becoming a business developer doesn’t happen in a week or month or even a year. It takes time and experience. Many of these skills are learned by working on different projects and businesses. General categorization makes it hard to keep track of what we are learning but TPBD helps you match skills with corresponding categories, so you know what you have to learn when you are working on a specific skillset or what to improve when you are employing certain skills at work.
I’m going to talk about all the skills you need to learn based on this system. It is easy to categorize each skill with its corresponding set in the general systems, but my way just makes it easier to know which is which. You can use The Pentagon of Business Development to learn skills or teach them if you are a more academic business developer, but if it was useful and someone asked who invented this, don’t forget to say Mehdi Rashed did it.
The Pentagon of Business Development
TPBD categorizes business development skills into five different classes or skillsets. Each set, then, have different sub-skills related to the set. Each set can have more or fewer sub-skills depending on the areas of specialties a business developer adopts. While the number of sub-skills may vary for each business developer & project, the five skillsets are always common among them.
There might be some sub-skills in the following list that are mostly for online & eCommerce businesses. For other areas, it is easy to include or exclude sub-skills and customize them according to your requirements, but keeping the five skillsets intact is a crucial point in keeping track and relating sub-skills to the main ones.
1. Communication & Negotiation Skills
Communication and negotiation skills, in simple words, concern how you speak, listen and act in the presence of others (clients, employers, and business owners) and how you interact with them, whether online or face to face. This is also the first skillset that you are going to need in order to find clients and get hired because you have to speak professionally so people can trust you and hire you for their projects & businesses.
Communication and negotiation skills include many sub-skills that you have to work on and improve if you want to sound like a professional business developer. This skillset is learned by having more real-life experience. As you talk to people and deal with businesses and business owners more, your communication & negotiation skills will improve simultaneously.
The most important sub-skills related to communication & negotiation are:
Business developers should have extensive knowledge in their areas of expertise. They should be familiar with all the latest technologies, strategies, and breakthroughs in their field and know how to implement them in various projects. Also having a broad knowledge of related subjects significantly increase your self-esteem as you can confidently show your clients how professional you are in your field. You want to know the answer to every question your clients ask you or questions you are asked in a job or project interview.
Knowledge comes from reading books, articles, and online resources and instructions related to your areas of specialties. Also attending conferences, seminars, webinars, and watching videos & presentations online could help you gain more knowledge, especially information you can’t find in books and articles easily. Get yourself used to reading and learning because gaining knowledge will never end!
One of the most important sub-skills for business developers is their power of persuasion. It comes from how you speak to your clients (or potential clients) and how your present a product, project, or solution. The power of your voice and your speech can determine the result of a project as you can convince (or persuade) the opposite party to do something.
Persuasion is actually a very hard skill, and even senior business developers and those with years of experience may have problems convincing others, but it can be learned by working on your speech power, body language, presentation skills, and experience. The best way to use your past experience to persuade other clients is to take a look at your previous meetings and see what went wrong or what worked. By analyzing your previous conversations and persuasion attempts you can figure out what to say and what to avoid for your next ones.
As a business developer, you might encounter many clients who have business ideas in their minds and want to monetize them but don’t know how to do it. They are coming to you for help. One of the key points in business development is to help others start their businesses. This means that if they have the idea, stop forcing them to do something else. If you ask a business developer what they want to do with their money or what they think is better to do with it, they won’t tell you. The reason is that they don’t want to put any idea in your mind because what might work for a business developer (or any individual person) might not work for others (you).
Therefore business developers should listen more to their clients than talk to them. You should listen to what exactly your client is talking about. You have to listen to his/her ideas, understand them, and see what (s)he wants from you before jumping into answering them uninformed. You can take notes during the session since people with ideas usually talk a lot about them in a detail. This will help you keep track of the information they are giving you and refer to them later when you want to start talking.
One of the most critical businessman ethics for business developers (and generally everyone) is being trustworthy and reliable. This is an important skill. People tend to not trust business developers to share their ideas. They are afraid that business developers might still have their ideas. This is typical human behavior. Nobody can trust strangers after a meeting and talking to them once. As a business developer, you should never share people’s ideas, information, and secrets with anyone, and always keep them confidential.
The hardest thing to do, especially for your new clients, is to show them that you are a reliable person and care about the confidentiality of their ideas and thoughts. When you are meeting your potential clients, they should feel they are talking to a trustworthy person they can rely on. To achieve this rather hard skill, you should know how trust forms in people’s minds. There are simple techniques that help you achieve that. For example, you should always be honest, transparent about everything, and show that you are committed to their requirements.
Also, being on time for your meeting, not talking or gossiping about your previous projects, and avoiding talking about other people’s projects & ideas can show you are a trustworthy and reliable person, making your potential clients open up and tell you about their ideas and thoughts.
Straight-talking is actually a double-edged sword. It can be useful as well as dangerous. It depends where and how you decide to talk straight. If used correctly, it will yield positive results in a meeting or negotiation, but if used incorrectly, it can break deals and ruin negotiations. Let me explain what straight-talking is before telling you its possible destructive effects.
Straight-taking means being transparent and honest about the progress & results of something when you are talking to a client or negotiating terms with someone. It means that you should maintain the reality of clients’ expectations, and tell them what they should expect in real-life scenarios. Client expectations are really important in the success of projects and businesses. If set unreally high, it could be problematic. A business developer honestly tells clients what they should expect or to raise or lower their expectations to be prepared if anything happened unexpectedly.
If straight-talking is delivered incorrectly, especially in the earlier stages of any business startup, it could potentially lead to offending clients and not getting hired (or getting fired). Bad straight-talking also shows you’re selfish & reveals your weaknesses. This is also applicable to jobs & project interviews. If you talk straight correctly, then you can easily convince clients to do or change certain things in their ideas to get better results, and they will happily do it. It also convinces business owners to negotiate the terms you are looking for and hire you as their business developer.
Straight-talking is a part of business development and can’t be ignored. However, there are certain things to avoid if you want to use this skill effectively and right. First of all, you should watch your tone. You don’t want to talk loud, fast, or angrily. You also don’t want to use any bad and demeaning words or use disappointing and joy-killing phrases.
Second, if there is something wrong or unreal about your client’s speech, you shouldn’t point to it and say, “you’re wrong!” or “It doesn’t work!”. You have to provide examples to show them what is wrong with their ideas or why it won’t work if they do it this or that way!.
And last, you don’t want to start straight-talking right from the moment you met your client for the first time. You don’t want to bombard them with reality & facts right from the beginning. Let them talk about their ideas or business first. Listen and see what they are talking about, what they want, and what they are looking for. Analyze their expectations and then slowly start to talk about what they should do if they want to achieve their goals.
Nonverbal communication means transmitting your message via mediums like body language, facial expression, eye contact, gestures, etc. It means talking without speaking if you will. If you watch someone talking while maintaining eye contact, moving arms & hands, and adjusting facial expressions & emotions to the subject, you tend to understand their message better than watching someone talking stand still & motionless. You don’t want to be that motionless person when you are talking. Nobody likes to see you talk emotionless and still like a lamp post.
You have to consider these small nonverbal communication methods when you are talking or delivering a speech. You have to use your arms, hands, and fingers to deliver a better message. Also, maintaining eye contact is a crucial factor to show you are a professional and know what you are talking about. You don’t want to look at the ceiling, floors, or anything other when you are talking to someone. They won’t take you seriously if you are distracted looking at other things while talking.
Nonverbal communication techniques are really easy to learn, and you can easily practice them at home. Just go in front of a mirror and look at yourself when you are rehearsing a speech or interview. There are a lot of videos on YouTube teaching you how to use your body language to better convey your message in a speech. If you are confident enough to speak to someone, or in front of a group of people, then using some nonverbal clues and signals can greatly enhance your speech impact upon them.
2. Management & Teamwork Skills
When you are hired as a business developer or work full-time in the business development department of a company, you should expect to work with many people, all with different opinions, ideas, and views on matters & issues. Business Development is collaborating effectively with other teams and departments to achieve shared goals. To do so, you will need their help, and they will need yours. It’s a bit hard, at first, to work with many other people with different mindsets and skills, but this is as important as the ultimate goal of the business itself. Without it, nothing will progress. You have to be a skilled manager and be a flexible teammate if you want to get things done. Management & teamwork skills are actually vital if you want to be on time for your project deliveries and effectively develop a business.
Management & teamwork skills include a lot of sub-skills that are really necessary. Such skills are learned via real-life experience and working on projects, but it’s not only the projects you are working on as a business developer. If you have had a previous job experience, you might have attended mandatory business meetings where a business developer started talking about what to do (goals) and provided instruction for each department or team on how to do it to achieve a goal (or goals). You can use your previous experience when you were in one of those meetings to see how to manage people, tasks, and resources, and work as a team to reach goals on time.
The most important sub-skills related to management & teamwork are:
Leadership is the first sub-skill toward managing a team and working alongside team members to develop a business. In the business world, leadership is an important criterion for business owners, project managers, and business developers. You have to think about leaders as not being a boss but as a leader of a team who is working side by side with the members of his/her team to achieve a common goal.
Nobody likes bossy business developers who only make orders and pass them to team members in order to get things done. It doesn’t work that way. Business developers, as mentioned before, should effectively collaborate with teams and departments. This means working with them instead of giving out orders.
Leadership is a skill you will learn more from real-life situations and less from books and articles. You may get the gist of this word by reading, but to put it into practice, takes a lot of effort. When you are in charge of a project and you have responsibilities to make a business grow, you will realize that relying on telling people what to do is a dangerous path to take. Instead, you have to tell them what to do, how to do it, and be alongside them while they are doing the task you asked for. You want to know what steps they are taking and how they are proceeding because one wrong step leads to a world of mistakes.
As you move along with your business development career, you will gain more experience in better managing and leading teams and companies. You can trial and error along the way, and analyze your behaviors and decision for each project to perform better for your future ones. Remember to start with smaller groups and startups before accepting jobs from bigger companies that involve managing larger groups and teams.
Teamwork is some kind of a spirit every business developer should have. Most of the time you spent on a project as a business developer is with being teams (or departments) and the members of those teams. You have to work with quite a large number of different opinions and mindsets. Where there are a lot of opinions, the difference of opinion is inevitable, and you have to prepare yourself to listen to all of them and discuss them to reach a common ground. If you are a leader, you will respect everyone’s point of view, unlike bosses who usually ignore employees.
Teamwork also means working by the team with the team. As a business developer, you have to collaborate and work side by side and keep up with tasks and deadlines to get to the desired result. Teamwork is also a mandatory skill in my point of view, because, like nobody can start a business alone, business developers can’t make a business better alone too. Let’s say nothing good can be done alone! I rarely saw business developers without a team and teamwork spirit. Even introverted business developers, like myself, have teamwork skills and are totally comfortable working with small and large teams.
This sub-skill is not sophisticated. From the very first day of school or even kindergarten, we learn to collaborate with our friends in a team. This continues to happen even after we finish school & university and start working and enjoying life. But if you’re not confident if you can make it in a team or not, try doing some charity group works or contribute to an online project for free. It will greatly help you to get into the teamwork atmosphere and gain some real-life experience.
Being a flexible person goes alongside the teamwork sub-skill. As I mentioned above, in a teamwork environment, there will be a lot of people which means a lot of opinions, thoughts, and mindsets. In such environments, you have to listen to all the ideas and opinions and choose the best one to put into practice. Flexibility also means embracing and accepting changes and evolving when they occur.
This sub-skill is not only crucial for you as a business developer, but also for all members of technically every team that are working for the same purpose. In general, being flexible means accepting change and other opinions. It is something that you have to learn as you are working. You don’t know how flexible you should be and where you have to accept others’ opinions and where not to. All of these will come to you, in a form of business future insight, as you work more as a business developer.
Brainstorming is a group activity in which you and other team members discuss a certain topic to reach a result. It’s a form of a business meeting where all members are openly sharing their ideas and opinions about the topic of the business. For example, when there is an issue with a specific part of a business, and you are looking to solve it effectively and efficiently, a brainstorming session can provide you with a wide range of ideas and solutions. Then you can choose the best one that is agreed upon by the majority of members.
Business developers should be open to brainstorming in order to find the best solutions to issues or make important decisions that directly affect the business and the team. In such meetings, business developers, as leaders, should listen to everyone to find an agreed-upon solution. If you are going to do everything your way, then you are not only a bossy leader but also fail to solve issues or make correct decisions.
You should hold brainstorming meetings every now and then, or when an important decision should be made. You also have to manage the meeting too because a brainstorming session can easily turn into a chitchatting session not managed correctly. The best way to hold such sessions and meetings is to write a meeting agenda or meeting brief and provide everyone with a copy prior to the meeting. This helps to keep in line with the topic of the meeting.
Sometimes, the complexity of problems and issues goes beyond simple solutions that can be discussed and solved by brainstorming. There might be problems that are too novel that no one knows the solutions to, or too specific that team members don’t know how to solve them. In these cases, business developers should employ their problem-solving skills to find a solution. To do so, business developers can refer to their experience to see if they’ve had such issues before in previous projects. If not, they have to conduct research and assess the situation to provide to solve the issue. Sometimes, consulting other professionals could help too.
Problems-solving skill is an important game-changer when it comes to working on projects and businesses. Every business developer has a large chest in their mind dedicated to all the problems they’ve had in every stage of their previous job plus their solutions. Although problem-solving can be categorized as a personal skill where individuals have the ability to spot the problems and find their solutions, in business development, it is more like a management skill that can be acquired by self-experience or others’ experience.
If your project encountered a problem that you couldn’t find the solution for by conventional methods (research, consultation, taking detours, etc.), you have to rely on problem-spotting before trying to solve it. Problem-spotting is more than just seeing that something doesn’t work as it supposes to. It concerns looking into the details of what caused it. It means digging deeper into the source of the problem and trying to solve them one by one or level by level instead of solving the whole problem altogether.
For example, when a machine with many cogs and gears inside stops working, you can’t solve the issue unless you go out and buy a new one. To fix the machine, you have to take it apart and see which parts (cogs & gears) are faulty. Then you try to fix that specific part and make the machine work again. It is the same for businesses, except for the part where you can go and buy a new one. You can’t go and buy a new business every time you found a seemingly unsolvable problem, instead, you have to diagnose the problem and fix the underlying issues.
Being collaborative has two levels for business developers. The first one is the Personal Level which means business developers should be able to work with other team members, help them and ask for help whenever necessary. Collaborative people are willing to help their friends (team members) to get to the desired result (business development). At a personal level, collaboration for business developers is necessary for two reasons: First, you might not be able to do all things and you might need help from professionals, and Second, you might not have the time to do some of the tasks in the project, especially regular ones, so you have to ask others to do them.
The other level for collaboration is at the Business Relationship Level or Outsourcing Level. Business developers should be open to collaborating with other teams, companies, and firms outside the scope of the project and its team. This comes in the forms of outsourcing and subcontracting. Sometimes, businesses should collaborate with other businesses or companies to reach a goal. There might be tasks that are too specific for you and your team to undertake, but there are other businesses offering services you need at a price. In this case, you have to establish a business relationship and outsource a part of the job to other companies.
Collaboration at the personal level is a lot like a teamwork attitude which you should have learned by now. At the business relationship level, collaboration is not something you have to learn, but something you have to be open to. You should know the necessity of outsourcing and spending some budget for the tasks to be done outside the business. If you are not open to such collaboration between businesses, you will realize the importance of outsourcing right from the beginning of your first project. It saves time, costs, and resources, and prevents failure and losses in the future.
Supervising is an important management skill for business developers. It means basically managing everything that is going on in the business including workforce, resources, tasks, budgets, etc. This seems a huge task, and it really is. Supervising in businesses should be divided into separate groups since you have to supervise many of them at the same time. To ease the task and make it efficient and time-saving, you can either ask teams or departments to choose a representative who will report back to you every day or every week, or hire professional supervisors for each team and department who are directly in touch with you and report all the progress and problems.
The best supervisors are those who are organized and optimized. Being organized helps you as a business developer to deliver a better plan for tasks and projects at hand. You can better decide when, where, and how to perform a task. You can easily order the tasks in workflow and prioritize them in the order of their importance. Being organized is really paying off here. You know how to implement tasks in a format that none will interrupt one another, and the former complements the latter, thus progress will be perpetual and clear.
On the other hand, optimization helps business developers reach a higher level of efficiency with tasks. Optimization in supervision means setting up tasks at the right time and choosing the right person to do it as well as scheduling when certain tasks should start and when they should be finished. Such optimizations, either at the team level or business & project level, contribute to saving a lot of time, costs, and resources.
Like leadership, supervising teams & projects is a skill that is mostly learned through real-life experience and situations. Although there are a lot of books and articles teaching techniques and methodologies for supervision, in the end, it’s the personal experience of a business developer that makes him/her a good supervisor.
One of the most important management & teamwork sub-skills for business developers is project management. Due to the nature of business developers’ jobs, project management, and managing almost everything that is going on in a business is really important. As a very important cog in a system, business developers should not only learn the basics and theories of project and business management but also should have expensive experience related to this skill, which will only be gained through working with teams and companies in real-life situations.
Project management is so important that we might have to treat it as a whole skillset, but then we might encounter some issues with common skills between the two management and teamwork sets. If categorized as a separate skillset, the interference between the two sets may cause difficulty and confusion when we are trying to learn them. Therefore, project management comes as a sub-skill in management and teamwork skillsets.
Learning project management might be a little harder and more difficult because it covers more complex procedures and tasks. There are 7 Main Aspects of Project Management for Business Developers to learn, both theoretically and practically:
- Project Planning
Much like business planning, project planning mostly concerns making plans for the process of every stage or phase of the project. A project plan is a crucial tool for business developers in order to manage the ongoing tasks and the overall progress of the project stages. In simple words, this aspect of project management provides a summary of the other 6 aspects.
- Task Management
Task management concerns the distribution of tasks and activities among team members and departments. Task management allows business developers to assign tasks to the right person based on their skills and specialization to improve the overall performance of the project and faster deliveries.
- Resource Management
Resource management is a set of activities business developers or project managers do in order to manage resources of all kinds and run the project or business with maximum efficiency. The resources in question can be budget, products, workforce, tools, and services that businesses use to work properly and efficiently. The ultimate goal of resource management for business developers is to provide the best cost-cutting solutions and improve overall business efficiency.
- Time Management
Time management means keeping up with deadlines. It sounds simple, but the process is a bit more complicated than that. Business developers should manage time on top of everything because they have to deliver results on an agreed-upon time to clients. To do so, they have to manage all the tasks from the moment they are started till the end and provide results on time. This requires business developers to inspire team members and departments to keep up with deadlines. Time management requires good planning and follow-ups to ensure everyone is on the line with their assigned tasks and can deliver on time.
In project management, scheduling is a form of micromanagement that project managers or business developers should perform in order to have an estimate on when activities & tasks should start and when they should end to proceed to the next one. Scheduling is actually one of the aspects of time management but it is categorized as a microtask for project management.
- Operation Management
Operation management is a set of practices to improve the overall business performance by managing business operations like maintenance, automation, outsourcing, third-party fulfillment, and customer support. Business developers should employ such practices in order to reach near-to-100% business automation and maximum return on investment (ROI).
Conclusion on Project Management
Project management is, surely, a cornerstone skill every business developer should possess. Many types of formal education provide the basis of project management but the real skill comes from real-life experience. There are many tricks in project management and management in general that require real-world situations and experience, gained only through working on projects & businesses.
3. Personal Skills
Personal skills are considered a skillset similar to personality traits that we have inherited from family traits, lifestyle, situations, experiences, and other contributing factors right from the moment of our birth. They include our general behavior, intentions, passions, and interactions. However, while many personality traits are solely inherited and are hard to change (e.g. being introverted or extroverted & being optimistic or pessimistic), many traits are actually can be acquired given the right circumstances and practices. The latter are the skills business developers need and we are going to talk about them here. Those are the skills that are categorized as personal skills in The Pentagon of Business Development.
Personal skills for business development are learned mostly by experiencing a real-life situation. We will learn such skills more from actually working on projects, having discussions with people, and solving issues, and less from reading about them in books, articles, or instructions. We may already have many of these skills, meaning that they were developed at a stage of our life, but skills that are not can be acquired during our business development career. Learning such skills require constant self-analysis of what, how, and when we did or said something. Every day after work, you can relax for half an hour to analyze your behaviors during the day and get a better gist of how you can improve sub-skills that are related to this skillset.
The most important sub-skills related to personal skillset are:
Self-motivation is the internal ability to drive yourself, to fuel your passion, into taking action toward a goal. It means you have to be passionate about what you are doing and motivate yourself to do it as best as possible instead of waiting for someone else to motivate you. Actually, you should be a self-motivated person because you are a business developer and you are expected to motivate others to do their job perfectly to reach a common goal. Imagine you are not self-motivated and try to motivate others. It’s just not possible that way and It will be a disaster if you try to do it!
There is no fixed formula or instruction for learning self-motivation. It is something you have to improve by doing little tricks and changes in your life, your mindset, and your thoughts. It will be different for everyone and I can’t tell you exactly what to do, but there are some general techniques that can help you improve your self-motivation in the long run.
What I can suggest for increasing self-motivation are working on simpler projects & clients in the early stages of your business development career, keep learning more and more stuff, and think about your previous achievements or those you are going to achieve if you do the current project perfectly, and keep track of your progress. In addition, you can focus more on goals, which is another personal skill I will talk about next. Other things like helping others in business, trying to be more optimistic than pessimistic, and starting good habits can greatly help you to increase your self-motivation too.
One mistake that you have to avoid, and it is actually one of the Make Money Online Mistakes, is to stop overthinking and start doing. A healthy amount of overthinking is good, but when it becomes a barrier to do something or even start doing it, you have to stop right away!
Being a goal-focused or goal-oriented person is also an important personal skill for business developers. A goal-focused person, as opposed to a task-focused person, is someone who is setting a goal and doing everything in order to reach that goal. A task-oriented person is someone who is given a set of tasks to do using a predetermined instruction. Many regular employees in big firms and companies are usually task-focused, while their bosses and managers are goal-oriented. In simpler words, when you prioritize goals first and perform tasks to reach them, it means goal-oriented, and when you prioritize tasks first to reach a goal, it means task-oriented.
The main difference between a goal- and a task-focused person is that with goal-oriented individuals, the goal itself can technically be anything, either small like conducting research or big like the overall growth of an enterprise. On the other hand, task-oriented individuals usually do things to reach the small goals of a large system, and goals are usually simple and straightforward. Complex & advantageous goals can be set and pursued by goal-oriented people, and that is why being a goal-focused person is an important personal skill for business developers, who are then dividing the goal into smaller actions and tasks for others in groups to perform.
Becoming a goal-focused person is not as hard as it sounds. But stop being a task-focused person is harder than you think. First of all, you have to become self-motivated (another business developer skill) to stop being a task-focused person. They cancel each other out so being self-motivated and self-aware will result in stop thinking small and go for bigger goals.
A goal-focused business developer starts by analyzing the main goal (s)he is supposed to reach. Then (s)he should start dividing the goal into smaller ones down to a level of smaller and simpler tasks to better plan for business and project. This should be done before the development of the business starts. Business developers look at the bigger picture (main goal) and plan tasks (smaller goals) according to that. The focus is on the main goal here, and not on tasks. Any task that can end up achieving the goal would suffice, no matter what it is!
Competitiveness or a competitive person is someone who wants to be the best in what (s)he is doing. They will try their best to do everything 10 times better than others to be the best at it and will be greatly disappointed if they don’t win or achieve their goals and intentions on time or with less perfect results than they’d expected. Competitiveness is also a key personal skill for eager business developers, especially those who are working for big companies and enterprises with a lot of rivals.
Every day there is a new trend, new market, new opportunity, and a new way to grow a business. But the window is so short that Agile Business Development is required to keep up and make more revenue out of them. In today’s world full of companies and enterprises, competition is on, and really hot, to grow more, make more revenue by closing more deals, and attract more customers.
In such a context, companies whether big or small will only look for competitive business developers who are confident enough to win this race. Competitiveness in business developers allows them to go a few steps further from what the company asked them to do and try to deliver even better and more impactful results. Competitive business developers accept the job to win the race of big corporations!
Competitiveness as a personal skill is learned by experiencing a business competition between companies. You can also read about how enterprises overcame each other in business races in books about business development, finance, and economics. Reading books about politics and political strategies could help too, but in the end, nothing beats real experience. As a business developer, you should always beware of trending and be able to identify them as early as possible. You also have to analyze your competitors and track every single step they are taking to profit from trends. You can then take action by going a few steps ahead of them or conducting reversal strategies to overtake them in the race.
It’s really hard to point to a direction and to tell people this is the way to become a competitive business developer. Most of the skills for business development usually happen along the way. They just occur at a subconscious level and trust me, you will never forget them when you learn something in practice. If you ask programmers “How did you learn to code?”, they will say it’s 10% books and education, and 90% percent self-learning & working on projects. Business development is also similar. It’s about 15% to 20% reading, and 80% to 85% learning during work & projects.
Remember the quotes saying “Failure is the beginning of success”, or “Failure is not the opposite to success, it’s part of success”? Quotes like these had been said by all successful people including, actors, athletes, business individuals, and politicians. The second quote above was said by a successful businesswoman Arianna Huffington. They all convey the same meaning: You will fail a lot but you have to keep up and learn from your failures to perform better to succeed. Persistence is the embodiment of these inspirational quotes.
In simple words, persistence means not losing hope when you face failure and keep trying to get what you want. This particular personal skill is not only important for business developers but also crucial throughout your life and efforts. If you want to get somewhere and be successful, you shouldn’t give up when you face failure. But here I’m going to talk about why persistence is important for business developers.
Business developers should particularly be persistent because failure is just too common in the business world, especially for small business startups with low budgets. As a business developer, you will face failure and defeat a lot, but you should never lose hope and quit, because, the reality is, success could be the next in line after the very failure that made you stop trying! You should never stop trying. There is nothing for a business developer that can be marked as impossible, right?
All those big entrepreneurs and companies failed thousands of times before becoming the names & brands they are today. Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Tesla, SpaceX, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and basically every enterprise out there didn’t become what they are overnight. They failed and failed and failed before that one shot of success. They didn’t quit, so you shouldn’t too!
Maybe we shouldn’t call persistence a personal skill but a personal ability or strength that forces you to try harder if a failure occurred. To become persistent, one should work on their thoughts and mindset. You should be aware of your abilities and skills and reach a self-awareness level that doesn’t let you lose hope if something didn’t go the way you wanted to. It takes a lot of courage to stand up when you fall, but before stop trying, just think about what success looks like and how good and sweet it is if you try a bit harder to reach it.
Fast learning needs no introduction as the title gives away what it actually is. Many believe fast learning is a purely inherited skill and trying to learn different things in a short time won’t help you become a fast learner. But I disagree. Fast learning can happen even when you are in your early 30s. As long as you keep reading about new stuff, research new topics, and analyze data & statistics, fast learning is happening simultaneously.
The trick to learning everything fast lies within how much knowledge about different topics you have, and how much you can relate to or connect them to one another. That is how I learned what I know today. For example, back in 2005, I started to learn Flash Animations (which are now obsolete). It took 10 months to learn everything I needed to create a simple Flash game. Later, I started learning Photoshop, and I learned just about how much I knew flash in a few months because I was already familiar with how graphic software worked and how tools are used.
Later in 2007, I started learning 3D animations and was able to create a 1-minute short animation. It took me one 200-page book & two months of constant practice, trial & error, and tests to master 3D Studio Max enough to render a short animation. After that, I learned 3D graphics programming & game development and created a real-time graphic engine by the end of 2008. I learned everything about graphics back then so fast all because I had underlying information from different software and could relate them to one another.
Fast learning for business development is exactly the same, even if you weren’t a fast learner before. It’s just learning learning learning! I wasn’t a fast learner, never had formal education in business or graphics, and only studied English at university (back in Iran). How did I do that? I was reading a lot, watching everything on YouTube, and was an active forum member in different online communities related to graphics, business, SEO, and some other fields. You can do the same too. It will take time, but It’s not hard at all!
Curiosity is always looking for more information and knowing everything. It means being keen to learn more, ask more questions, and find the answers. Actually, curiosity and fast learning go hand in hand, meaning if you are reading more to learn more faster, you are actually curious about everything that is related to your business or business development.
Curiosity, as one of the business development skills, means always looking for new trends, markets, marketing strategies, business models, etc. This depends on you to what extent you want to learn new stuff or look for new information. In general, curiosity about your areas of specialties as a business developer should be constant. You should always seek new information, ask complex questions, and try to find the solution to answer them.
To learn, or adopt, curiosity and to become a curious person, you have to form some habits. If you have someone around you, maybe a friend or family member, who is a curious person, you will easily notice a few routines in their everyday life & social interactions. Some of the habits from the top of my head are as follow:
- Always ask questions, not about someone’s personal issues, because that’s rude and unethical for business developers, but about things you don’t know or subjects & topics that sound interesting. It could be about anything even if they are unrelated to your field of work and specialty.
- Listen before judging, because every question you ask or every speech you deliver will have an answer you have to listen to open-minded. Listening without judgments also helps you find more interesting questions to ask. Listening also comes in handy when you are watching an instructional video or listening to a podcast.
- Never get bored, because asking some questions might be boring, even stupid, but as long as it adds something to your knowledge, it’s recommended. Also listening to someone speaking or listening to something on TV or podcast might become boring, especially if the speech is really long and includes too much detail.
- Accept being wrong or not knowing something, because you might have something in the past that newer information proves them wrong. You have to accept some of the things you already know might no longer be correct to might be old and obsolete. Also not knowing something doesn’t mean you are not good. There will always be new stuff to learn and now knowing them already means there are new opportunities to learn more.
- Make time for curiosity, because if you postpone learning about something, listening to someone, or asking questions, you are very likely to forget them after a short time. Therefore stop saying not now and start going for it ASAP.
Attention to Detail
Attention to detail is just a type of being curious, maybe on a deeper level. Attention to detail means looking for how something, like a machine, engine, system, or even online stuff like websites, marketing campaigns, and social media accounts, works. When you are looking to find some information or learn something new, it will almost always include finding how they work.
For instance, imagine you want to learn how a car moves. You know it’s the fuel burning in the engine and the power goes through the transmission to move the wheels. It sounds simple, but if you are really curious and you really like to know how an engine turns the fuel into movement, then you have to look at how an engine works and how transmission and gear changing work. It goes down to the level of all the pistons, valves, gears, cogs, and driveshaft. You look at each part of the engine individually. This is attention to detail.
Attention to detail is not only for physical systems but also for abstract subjects. Take a piece of art or music for example. How a painter created a piece of artwork with all the brush strokes, lighting, shadows, and color combinations. These are categorized as attention to detail. Everything can be looked at this way. You can go so deep that every little part of something that works grabs your attention. If you are curious down to this level, every single detail, no matter how simple and obvious, will interest you.
Attention to detail is one of the skills business developers need to uncover how certain procedures work. Everything that leads to a business startup is actually a system. The business itself is a system consisting of separate parts working together. Those separate parts have their own parts, and so on. Problems and issues can occur in each of these parts. It depends on the business developer to employ his/her problem-solving and attention to detail skills to find out what the problem is and solve them.
In addition, attention to detail helps business developers understand how a certain process or strategy works, or how certain groups of customers behave in such a way that could increase business revenue. The secret lies within the details. If business developers are familiar with how to spot these details, they can easily customize every process and strategy according to business requirements, leading to better results and faster ROI.
How to improve your attention to detail? It’s similar to becoming a more curious person, which I’ve explained above. The difference is that attention to detail requires 10 times more asking more questions, listening, level looking into things, and making more time for searching for details. It’s rather easy, and as you work more on projects and have more real-life experience, spotting details will be easier.
Innovation & Creativity
Innovation and creativity are personal skills that business developers should be familiar with and be able to employ for all sorts of tasks & projects. Both sub-skills clearly reflect what they mean, so no further explanation is required. In their simplest form, being innovative means being able to create a new method, strategy, business, or plan, different from other existing ones using all the data and stats available. Creativity and being creative, in business development, means having new and unique ideas when it comes to marketing campaigns & visual elements. Both convey the same meaning after all, and that is challenging yourself to make something new & unique.
Personal skills are mostly acquired by increasing knowledge by reading, watching instructional videos, gaining more experience, and working on different projects. Innovation & creativity, too, come from these things. The more knowledge you have, the better ideas you can create. The fastest type of innovation is combining different existing ideas in a way that can form a better mega idea that can be useful for business, or even an idea to become a business. There seems to be no clear or fixed instruction or formula to follow if one wants to be more creative and innovative. The clear thing is that the main factors for such skills a business developer should consider are learning a lot by reading, asking a lot of questions, being curious, and attention to detail.
Critical thinking is actually one of the most important skills for business developers. It has a direct effect on many sub-skills in various skillsets. It is also a skill that you won’t learn directly, but indirectly through learning other sub-skills in communication & negotiation, management & teamwork, and personal skillsets.
Critical thinking means organized thinking in a logical manner to identify the connection between various ideas, subjects, information, and knowledge. It concerns the finding of the relationship between what you already know and have in mind, in a logical and rational manner, that can make sense. In simplest words, critical thinking is “Thinking about Thinking”.
In this section of this article, I’m not going to talk about how to learn critical thinking, because as I established before, this particular skill is acquired by learning other sub-skills. Instead, I’m going to talk about what critical thinking is important for business developers, and from that, you will know which sub-skills are more important.
Critical thinking will help you find systematic connections between all the information you’ve learned. This particular factor will help you learn more about the details of a system and how it works, thus enabling you to diagnose problems and solve issues faster and better. A rational connection between loads of information in mind helps you learn faster and deeper too.
Above all, when information is organized and thinking is logical, combining ideas and processes will be easier and will make more sense, thus leading to innovation and creativity. Critical thinking can also improve soft skills like communication, social interactions, and presentation skills. More organized information in mind equals more speech power and more confidence. If you top up all the advantages of this skill for business development, you can see how effective it would be for growing a business and generating more revenue and wealth.
Critical thinking can be an individual section or skillset. If treated as a single entity, then it should host many skills from most of the sub-skills in The Pentagon of Business Development system. To avoid confusion and to facilitate learning skills, critical thinking is categorized as a personal skill or personality trait. Also, critical thinking is, of course, about thinking, but some of the skills, especially in management & teamwork skillset, are more practical than thinking-based. Therefore, looking at critical thinking as a personal skill is more logical if we are thinking critically!
You might say being adaptable and being flexible are the same things but in different words. I have to say yes and no! Both flexible (in management and teamwork skills) and adaptable mean getting used to something new that might be a little outside of our comfort zone.
While being flexible is some sort of physical state of working with teams, adaptability is more of a mental state, and even comes way before flexibility in teamwork. Business developers should have a state of mind that is always ready to shape & form toward the coming tasks and projects. They should get ready, very fast, to get used to new environments, work schedules, pressures, and responsibilities. This is just not feasible with a simple being-flexible-in-teamwork sort of skill. It requires a state of mind that is stamped as adaptability.
a self-motivated goal-focused competitive business developer who is persistent enough to get the work done is already an adaptable person, so you know which skills to improve if you are going to reach that state of mind and master the art of adaptability. The other factor contributing to the level of adaptability for business developers are their work experience and previous projects and teams they have worked with. After all business developers’ skills are improved at their best via real-life experience.
4. Technical Skills
Technical skills are a set of hard skills concerning business development and business growth in general. Technical skills for business developers are required because they are the cornerstones of what a business developer should know to make a business perform better. Technical skills are dived into many sub-skills that business developers should know how to put together like pieces of a puzzle and make a comprehensive business plan or marketing strategy. After a business developer established terms and plans with a client and team, it’s their technical skills and computer skills that come to their aid to achieve business development goals.
Technical skills are categorized as hard skills, which are learned or acquired in different ways. You can learn many of the topics related to technical skills through formal education, online courses, and best of all, through real-life experience. I can say that about 70% to 75% of technical skills are learned, or acquired during work and real experience. Experience is actually the best teacher when it comes to most of the hard skills for business developers. However, there are literally an unlimited amount of resources (articles, videos, courses) available online so you can easily learn these sub-skills. There are unlimited skills categorized as technical, but the skills I’ve mentioned below are the most common technical skills among business developers.
The most important sub-skills related to technical knowledge are:
Research & Development
Research & development, or research and technological development as referred to by classy Europeans, is a set of practices and activities for the goal of developing something new. Business developers, or in general companies and industries, conduct research and development to reach their goals. Research & development is one of the first stages of business development as most of the future decisions are formed based on the early results of such research.
Research and development is a vast field of specialties, and there is usually a whole department devoted to just researching new things. Conducting comprehensive research and development for business development requires a lot of sub-skills itself like research methodology, statistical data collection, data analysis, etc. While learning and mastering all of these skills for a single individual is close to impossible, knowing the overall process of research & development and contributing methodologies & strategies for a business developer is a must. Business developers should know how good research is conducted and how to manage research & development teams.
The best way to learn what is going on in research and development and how it actually works, other than learning by experience, is learning through books and articles about research methodology and data collection techniques. Many management, teamwork, and personal skills, too, contribute to the facilitation of learning research and development. But. as always, the best way to learn is by working in and gaining real experience.
Business planning is creating a map for the business that illuminates the path you should go on if you want to start your business and reach certain goals. It is the most important stage in every business either a new business about to start or an already established business seeking more success. Due to the importance of business planning, every business developer should develop business planning skills before engaging in any serious project.
Almost all Business Ideas or Ways to Make Money Online begin with creating a business plan. It is the very first and earliest stage of everything you want to do that ends up making money. Without a business plan, there is no success guaranteed. You should avoid this big Make Money Online Mistake and start a business without setting a plan for your business.
To learn business planning, you have to know what business plans cover for a business. A business plan provides an extensive summary of a business process. It includes all the parts that play a role in making money and generating revenue. A regular business plan includes the business overview, business model, budget estimation, market/product research, required resources, marketing strategies, support & maintenance, and long-term goals. By learning what these are individual, you will learn how to create a business plan.
Business optimization is a set of tips & tricks practiced to enhance the overall performance of the business. This includes cost-cutting solutions, business automation, scheduling, and progress analysis. Business optimization helps physical businesses to perform better and make more revenue with less expenditure. On the other hand, online businesses could use such tasks and activities to get more publicity and automate business operations.
The basics of business optimization are the same for both physical and online businesses, and business developers, depending on their field of specialties, should be familiar with them. In general, everything that can lead to more revenue faster or with less budget is considered optimization, as long as it doesn’t change the overall quality of products or services.
Business developers who are looking to employ business optimization tactics should learn them mostly through experience and working on different projects. However, business optimization can be learned via reading books about big companies that achieved better goals, or business articles written by successful business owners. Many business management university degrees provide formal educational courses on business optimization too, but that depends on business developers’ field of study in university if they are studying related majors.
Customer Relation Management
Customer Relation Management or CRM for short means managing interactions between a business and its customers. CRM helps businesses and companies to establish a close relationship with their customers for the purpose of increasing sales. It concerns all customers of a business whether new or old and even potential customers. Managing customer relations and closely monitoring their preferences provides crucial data for businesses allowing them to fulfill their customers’ needs. It also provides extensive insight that can help companies to run successful advertisement & marketing campaigns.
Business developers should be familiar with three forms of customer relationship management. First, CRM as a technology, tool, or system, that is considered one of the computer skills and we will talk about it later in this article. Second, CRM as a strategy, that provides a pipeline for establishing a relationship with customers and uses it to increase sales or revenue. Third, CRM as a process, that concerns how a certain strategy is implemented in a business and how much customization it requires to fit in the said business.
CRM as technical skills can be learned by reading books and articles, as well as real-life experience, but the most important part of CRM skills for business developers is the use of CRM tools and services in real projects and businesses. While reading the theoretical topics related to CRM is important, learning how to use CRM tools is considered more practical when it comes to business development and growth. CRM tools are categorized as computer skills in The Pentagon of Business Development and we will talk about it later in this article.
Consumer behavior is a technical skill that business developers should be aware of and know how to analyze in advance. Consumer behavior concerns customers’ or clients’ activities from the moment they are engaged with one of the company or business marketing campaigns until they make (or don’t make) a purchase. It also defined the buying patterns if big data from many customers are analyzed altogether.
Underlying skills in consumer behavior are mostly analytical and it depends on how business developers analyze the sales data. However, there are theories that paint the path toward analyzing how customers act when they are shopping. The analysis of consumers’ behaviors provides substantial insight into what leads to more sales and what doesn’t. It not only provides buying patterns but also provides rejection reasons and why certain customers pass on buying certain products or services.
As mentioned before, there are theories for consumer behavior that provides a form of a fixed formula for analyzing how customers end up buying or not buying products or services. The theories are purely psychological but really useful for marketing experts. These theories facilitate the learning of such behaviors, which are usually learned by experience and require formal education in psychology. There are 4 Consumer Behavior Theories every business developer should be aware of:
1. Theory of Reasoned Action (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1980)
The Theory of Reasoned Action portrays consumers as rational individuals who are going through a process of decision-making to purchase something that will fulfill their desired outcomes. This means consumers only take necessary actions to make a purchase with predetermined outcomes and results.
2. Engel, Kollet, Blackwell Model
Engel, Kollet, Blackwell Model, or EKB Model for short is an extension of The Theory of Reasoned Action. It provides a five-step process that consumers follow to make a purchase. The first step is Problem Recognition where the consumer recognizes a problem which (s)he has to solve. The second step is Information Search where the consumer looks for ways (or products) that can help him/her to solve the problem. The third step is Alternative Exavluation where the consumer evaluates every aspect of the product (quality, price, rating, etc.) before making any decision. The fourth step is Purchase where the consumer buys the product or service (s)he found to solve his/her problem. The fifth step is Post-Purchase where the consumer assesses the value of the purchased product or service, which directly affects the value of the company or business and could end up in a long-term relationship between customer & business leading to more purchases in the future.
3. Motivation-Need Theory (Maslow, 1943)
Motivation-Need Theory is one of the most famous theories in the psychological community. It defined every consumer purchase decision as an act to fulfill one of the five main needs & priorities of human beings. They are, from an order of bottom-up hierarchy, psychological (survival) needs, safety, love, esteem, and self-actualization. This theory allows marketing experts and business developers to target the right audience by providing tailored copywrites and marketing campaigns to motivate customers fulfilling their needs.
4. Hawkins Stern Impulse Buying
Unlike other theories where customers make purchases based on rational decisions, Hawkings Stern Impulse Buying Theory believes in the ideas of impulsive actions and impulsive purchases. Hawkings Stern believes that impulse purchase fits right besides rational purchase when we are talking about average consumer behaviors. Impulsive purchases are the result of external stimuli, like an advertisement campaign, making customers suddenly buy a product or service, without any rational decision-making process.
Design Theory explains why designing matters, especially for marketing and advertisement campaigns. Design theory concerns how visual elements look in a piece of artwork and how they should be put together. While learning design theory thoroughly and putting it into use is usually what graphic designers do, business developers should have some understanding of how certain designs can help attract more customers and what visual elements could lead to increasing ROI.
Design theory for business developers is easy to learn. Since in-depth & practical knowledge in this field is not required, business developers can easily understand the theoretical points by reading about them. In general, design theory consisted of fundamentals and principles of designing visual elements for the purpose of communicating via graphic artworks. Certain principles like design thinking, color theory, and element placements could help improve the return on investment for many marketing and advertisement campaigns.
Marketing is a set of practices undertaken by companies, brands, and businesses to promote their products and services. Marketing strategies are what drive most of the marketing & advertisement campaigns of companies and businesses. They are strategies that make businesses visible to customers via various methods, like field advertisement, online ads, TV commercials, etc.
Marketing goes hand in hand with business development. Marketing and its strategies are actually one of the most important sub-skills of technical skills business developers should know because many of the business growth goals will realize by employing certain marketing strategies. The goal of many businesses is increasing sales, which can be done by employing the right type of marketing and advertisement campaigns.
There are a lot of marketing strategies suitable for different types of businesses. Business developers should be aware of these strategies to use them on projects and improve business performance. The best marketing strategies that could help you to increase sales or find new clients are:
- Cold Calling
- Email Marketing
- Inbound Marketing
- Digital Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Search Engine Marketing
- Influencer Marketing
- Guerilla Marketing
- Video Marketing
- Field Advertisement
- Paid Online Advertisment
- Giveaway & Promotion
- Affiliate Marketing
- SEO Marketing
- Content Marketing
There are a lot more but the list above is pretty much what you should focus on in the beginning. While the list looks frightening, it is actually not. These marketing strategies are really easy to learn, especially if you use them as you are learning about them. There are not confusing and there are a lot of tools available online that will help you successfully start a marketing campaign using any of these strategies.
Technically every business you start online or anything you do on the internet to make money requires SEO optimization. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and it is a set of techniques that make your content visible to search engines and increase their search engine results page ranking. Better SEO leads to higher ranks on the results page on specific keywords, which means more visitors and more potential customers.
SEO optimization isn’t only for written content. We have SEO for videos, images, audio podcasts, and technically any kind of content. It is also used for all parts, including, title, description, headings, quotes, image alt texts, and even links in the content. A well-optimized piece of content is the one that is optimized down to the deepest level of details in the content. It is the most important part of content marketing, without which, there will be no publicity and visibility if other marketing strategies haven’t been employed.
Search engine optimization is divided into two categories: On-Page SEO & Off-Page SEO. names clearly reflect their differences. On-page SEO deals with optimizing the content on your website, and off-page SEO deals with link building from other websites back to yours.
Tasks for On-Page SEO include the following:
- Keyword & keyphrase placement across the content
- Optimizing H1, H2, H3,… headings
- Internal link building
- Link anchor text optimization
- Image & image alt text optimization
- Providing informative and comprehensive content
- Including quotes, bullet-points, and tables in the content
- Use short sentences preferably with an active voice
- Increase engagement by including infographics, images, and videos in the content
- Make the website, and webpages load as fast as possible
- Provide references for facts and points mentioned in the content by external linking
- Provide attractive SEO titles and descriptions for search engines
- Many other things that you will learn on different projects!
And tasks for Off-page SEO include the items below:
- Provide do-follow backlinks to high-authority websites
- Optimize link anchor texts linking back to your website
- Guest posting on related websites
- Providing social media signals
- Business online directory bookmarking (Local-SEO)
- Many other things that you will learn on different projects!
To optimize your website or your online business SEO, you have to do keyword research & competitors’ research before starting SEO. Keyword research provides a list of keywords that potential customers use to find what they are looking for. Keywords can be short-tail, meaning no more than three words, or long-tail (keyphrase) that are longer than three words, sometimes in the form of a question. A keyword list allows you to strategically include keywords in your content, allowing search engines to know what your content is about and value it based on other SEO factors. If done correctly, your website will appear higher on the results page when people are searching for exact or similar keywords.
On the other hand, competitor research for SEO optimization provides you with crucial insight into how search engines value content. If you analyze the first 5 results for your competitive keywords, you can get a gist of what type of content users search for and what type of content gets higher ranks. You can understand what type of content you should provide, how & where to include keywords in your content, and how to increase visitors’ engagement with the content and website. This will lead to more visitors, a better conversion rate, and more customers.
SEO optimization, of course, isn’t as simple as I’ve explained here. There is a lot more to that. In fact, SEO is one of the most demanded skills by online business owners. If you are an SEO expert, you can have great job offers with promising pay. As a business developer, understanding SEO techniques and strategies is really important. This skill, by all means, is one of the most important skills a business developer should know. Content marketing, which circles around SEO, not only increases potential customers for your products & services but also saves a lot of paid advertisement & sponsorship budgets.
The process of SEO optimization is not limited to a fixed formula for producing content. It includes understanding how search engines work and what algorithms they are using to generate search results. Putting together good content, whether text or otherwise, is important. Keyword research, selection, and inclusion are also important factors in delivering good results from content SEO. Image SEO, link building, and other SEO-related tasks are equally important, and all of them are mostly learned through working on real projects, doing a lot of A/B testing, and looking for niche keywords & real-world data to improve content marketing.
Search Engine Algorithms
Search engines use a set of instructions to look for websites and show them on the results page. These instructions are called algorithms. Actually, instructions for computers and AIs are called algorithms and they include a lot of mathematics so we won’t get into them, and we don’t have to! Search engine algorithms are what drive search engines into deciding what website to show higher on the results page. All search engines use them and some like Google and Bing use multiple algorithms to provide the best search experience for users, leading them to exactly what they are looking for.
Search engine algorithms are more like an understanding of how something works rather than a skill, although it needs to be constantly updated since big search engines tweak their algorithms every now and then. Business developers should know how search engines index web pages and rank them on the result page. Strategies like content marketing and SEO optimization require the knowledge of search engine algorithms. Being familiar with them helps business developers to choose the correct SEO strategy to rank higher as well as prevents businesses’ websites to get penalized due to excessive keyword use or other Black Hat SEO Strategies.
When business developers and SEO experts talk about search engine algorithms, they are talking about Google search engine algorithms. Since Google is responsible for 85% of all internet searches in Jan. 2021, followed by Bing at ~6%, understanding search engine algorithms means those that are used by Google. Algorithms like Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, and BERT plus many others crawl the entire internet and index websites and web pages. When someone searches for a specific keyword, Google “serves” the results and ranks them based on many different factors.
Accessing the codes of such algorithms is, of course, impossible. Google doesn’t share them publicly. Therefore, to understand how they work, you have to follow the instructions and guidelines provided by Google itself. You can keep your search engine algorithm knowledge updated by taking a look at Google Search How to Guide as well as Google Search Central Documentation for Developers. You can also read Google Blog for some additional information. There are also many other third-party companies and individual SEO experts who provide extra information about Google algorithms after doing a lot of research and testing different SEO techniques, but the raw data usually comes from Google itself.
Technical writing is an important skill any business developer should be familiar with and be able to use effectively. Writing, in general, is an important piece of every business developer’s job and is useful for all sorts of tasks. Writing letters, emails, occasional blog posts, website content, informative texts, and technical guidelines are some of the infinite usages of writing. Of course, writing content for websites or guidelines isn’t the job of business developers, but being familiar with them to guide the team is a must.
Learning technical writing is only practice, practice, practice. Nothing else! This practice comes into two forms. First, you can write for fun or as a hobby. Write guest posts on different websites, start a Medium blog, or run a website just for writing stuff that people can read and learn something. This is a very good and useful practice to become a professional technical writer. You will learn all tips & tricks along the way. Second, it’s reading blog posts related to your area of specialty. get used to reading a lot, which is also another important thing business developers should do all the time. By reading, you will learn new words, expressions, and sentence forms as well as new information & knowledge.
Copywriting is a form of writing that is specific to the marketing and advertisement industry. It is a short piece of text with the purpose of attracting potential customers to buy products or services. If you see a very short text on a poster or in advertisements and felt the urge to go and buy the product because of that text, it is a piece of copywriting fulfilling its goal.
Copywrites are those effective short texts that impact the mind of readers and lead them to purchase the advertised product. For this purpose, copywriting isn’t just any form of writing. It’s more than technical writing because it should convey the meaning in a very short text. Copywriting is also an effective brand trust foundation. A piece of text that successfully leads customers to buy products will be memorized by satisfied buyers, turning them into loyal & returning customers, and greatly impacts future marketing campaigns.
Learning copywriting skills for business developers is important, not because they have to do the task, but because they have to supervise the copywriters and choose the best piece among hundreds provided by them. It’s also not an easy skill to learn if you are looking to become a professional copywriter. Elements like creative thinking, attention to detail, and even the psychology of human behavior play important roles in delivering an impactful copy.
But for business developers, such skills are learned for the purpose of having an overview or brief knowledge about the field to assess the work of professionals. To learn copywriting as a business developer, take a deep look into existing examples of successful advertising and marketing campaigns put together by big brands and corporations. See which elements bring the most customers. Learning a thing or two about buying patterns & the psychology of human behavior when they are shopping is also effective in choosing the best copy
A/B testing or Trial & Error is a form of comparison test where you compare two or more things together to find which one(s) more effectively fulfills the intended purposes. A/B testing is used in a wide variety of tasks and processes including marketing, advertisement, production, CRM, etc. In business development, A/B testing comes in the form of data analysis most of the time. For example, there might be new and never-tried-before tasks and processes requiring better research to determine which one is more effective. The best research tool here is trial & error. Both A & B are put into action and after a while, their data are compared to find which one has superior advantages.
Business developers should be familiar with the concept and details of A/B testing, especially in marketing and advertisement campaigns. The process of learning this skill is easy. despite the fact that you can learn A/B testing during projects and real-life experience, learning it is easy if you have a couple of data sets. Just run a brief comparison between them and find the differences. A/B testing can be both analytical (data & numbers) or technical (quality & practicality), both can be achieved by using computer software, online services, or merely by looking into the groups and spotting the big differences.
Identifying trends on the internet or among the public is something like learning the search engine algorithms. It’s not a skill but more like knowledge, you have to gain and update them every now and then. Trends are like memes. They appear almost suddenly, providing a lot of opportunities to make money and establish businesses, and they vanish. Depending on the power of that trend, its lifecycle could be from a few days to years. Identifying them can help you and your business. You can use it to your advantage and generate more revenue.
If you are asking why business developers should be aware of trends, the answer is simple. If you are developing an established business, you can easily achieve goals like higher sales and more revenue simply by going along with that trend. This, especially, works great with internet trends. Imagine a business that is selling clothing items or simply anything online. With the current trend of the world being cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, DOT, and Dogecoin, what would happen if the business provides the infrastructure for selling its products by cryptocurrencies?
Due to the massive amount of search on cryptocurrencies, the business can rock in a matter of days, receiving potential customers almost instantly. With an elaborated marketing strategy and good off-page SEO, hundreds of people will flood the website and order different items, just because they can pay by crypto and it’s a trend. The brand publicity and trust will increase and the business will win a lot of returning and loyal customers. Such marketing campaigns that are empowered by internet trends are like a chain reaction. One good strategy leads to a lot of publicity, almost for free, and the business development goals will be achieved because sales will increase and revenue will come in faster than ever.
If you are willing to know what the current internet trends are, regardless of being a business developer or not, you can always access social media and see what is trending. We all have done it before, so it’s not complicated at all. By accessing sections like Explore on Instagram, Trending on YouTube, Explore on Twitter or the Homepage on Facebook, we can easily identify the trending topics. More niche trending going around specific communities and groups are usually identified in their online forums or social media.
For example, design & creative trends are more likely to be found on websites like Dribbble, or web & software development trends are more likely to happen on Github. However, the best place for almost any kind of trend related to any topic is Reddit, which we are all familiar with.
Data analysis, or as I like to call it the game of numbers, is an important skill for business developers. It is a procedure to extract meaning from data by conducting analysis and using the results to improve different parts of the business. In the world of online businesses or businesses that deal with a lot of numbers, data analysis usually refers to data such as sales, costs, expenditures, revenue, and demographic data such as customers’ age, gender, etc.
If you have ever used services like Google Analytics that provide the data on website traffic (visitors) and analyzed numbers to change a few things on your website, you are somehow familiar with the concept of data analysis. Surely, for business development, data analysis goes a long way but the basics are usually the same.
Data analysis can be divided into two different categories. One is just a simple & brief analysis of data from a part of the business (like website traffic or sales data) that we all can do, simply by just looking at numbers & graphs, or using basic formulas and reasoning techniques to extract meaning and use it for the purpose of improving the business.
The second one is extensive research and analysis of data across the entire business including all of its parts, departments, and operations. Such analyses are done to find the meaning as well as the relationship of the data to different sections and parts of a business. Extensive data analysis produces comprehensive results that are based on logic and reason and can be used for a wide range of decisions & tasks when it comes to business development.
Of course, this type of data analysis is not the job of everyone, and not every business requires such things. Big corporations and companies usually task an entire department of professionals to analyze the data and provide results that can be used to improve the entire business as well as its subsidiaries.
Extensive data analysis is an academic skill and requires formal education, but general data analysis is something you can learn rather easily in a very short time. The important part of the data analysis sub-skill for business developers is to decide what and how should something be changed using meaningful data & results. How to master it? The only way that I know is the experience. The more projects you work on, the more experience regarding this sub-skill you will gain.
SWOT analysis, which stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, is a form of extensive data analysis and a technique used to assess the internal & external factors that affect the business’s current & future potentials. The SWOT analysis provides data-driven real-world insights helping business owners and business developers to assess the performance, risks, and competition of the business and to plan accordingly.
Using the data from SWOT analysis, business developers can decide what and how to improve internally or externally in order to achieve business development goals. It also helps them to develop strategic plans that can guide the business toward success.
SWOT analysis is clearly an important technical sub-skill and is a must for all business developers. The reason for this importance is the fact that SWOT helps you to develop plans for the future of the business, thus you can reach the set goals. Learning this data analysis strategy isn’t easy and usually requires formal education in an academic context.
However, many business developers learn it by studying the results of SWOT analysis conducted by big brands. Many companies and enterprises publish their SWOT analysis annually. They are usually available for public access and they are a very convenient and great way to know what this analysis technic is. If this is not a good way for you to learn SWOT analysis, then there are more than enough books & articles published online teaching this important skill for business developers.
5. Computer Skills
The last piece of The Pentagon of Business Development and the final skillset business developers should learn is computer skills. Most of us know many of the skills I am going to talk about here by now because they are mostly software, tools, and services we have used at one point in our career path. These days, there are software, tools, or services for almost any tasks you want to do, so there is a lot to learn here, and if you find something for which there isn’t a service on the internet, it is a really demanding thing, there you go! You’ve just found a great opportunity to start an online business. Computer skills are an inseparable part of skills business developers should be familiar with. The most -sub-skills here the better. They always come in handy during all sorts of projects and all kinds of businesses.
As I mentioned, there is a lot to learn, but the good news is learning many of today’s tools & services isn’t that hard. They all have simple & user-friendly designs and learning them won’t take too much. There is an infinite number of guides both written & video on the internet. You just need to search the name of the service followed by “How to” to find all sorts of guides and instructions. This is good news because you don’t need to learn all of them. You just need to learn them one by one when they are required. Of course, the more you learn is better. Once you learn a new computer skill, it’s going to stay in your mind for a long time, even if you used them once. So it’s a good thing that after a while of working on different projects, you will leave with a lot of new computer skills as well as other skills we talked about.
The purpose of each sub-skill is clear therefore I’m just going to stop at naming a few software, tools, and services related to each sub-skill, since telling you everything about them will only make this article unbelievably long and even more boring!
The most important sub-skills related to computers & technology are:
Word Processing Software
Most of the word processing software that comes with operating systems will do the trick. The best example here is Microsoft Office and more specifically, Microsoft Word. I prefer to use Google Docs since it lets me access all my files directly from any computer, provided I log into my account, as well as collaboration & teamwork capabilities. Also, a good grammar correction tool can help you a lot with your writing (blog posts, letters, etc.). The best one that I know and use is Grammarly. It has a free plan which fulfills all writing needs of a non-native speaker of the English language plus integrates with Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and Google Chrome.
Image Editing Software
There will be a time when you need to edit a photo, make some customizations to a banner, or get creative and design something yourself. Image editing software like Adobe Photoshop comes to your rescue. With only a $20.99/m plan you can have the best software in the industry, but if you are looking for free options, then you have GIMP and Paint.NET. There is also a great online image editor called Canva which is free and doesn’t need download or installation. You will have access to all the tools for simple image editing, creative tools to design simple artworks, and collaboration & teamwork capabilities.
Video Editing Software
Sometimes you might need to edit simple videos or put together a simple video clip for some marketing thing you are going to do. There are a lot of options available for you. The best one, which comes at the price of $20.99/m is Adobe Premiere which is a professional software but learning it for simple editing, cutting videos, and applying effects won’t take too long. I personally use TechSmith Camtasia since it’s very easy to use and comes with a great screen recorder. There are also free/limited alternatives for you. Lightworks is a good video editor as well as Davinci Resolve which is a more professional choice. If you are using MacBook, iMovie is by far the best free option you can have for video editing. Also, Screencast-O-Matic is a good online service for recording your screen. It has a limited free plan but it’s enough for simple uses.
Audio Editing Software
Audio editing for simple purposes like tweaking podcasts’ audios or adding background music to them isn’t hard at all. I have two options for you. The first one is Adobe Audition, which like all Adobe products, comes with a cost. The second one is the free alternative called Audacity. It is just as good as Adobe but free and open-source, full of all these professional tools with a very easy-to-use user interface.
Accounting & Inventory Management Software
Accounting and inventory management are usually included in all project management software, but for smaller businesses and startups in the early stages, using big corporate-level project management software isn’t a good idea. So, employing simple services is a more logical decision at this stage. Accounting services like Akaunting, Xero, and Wave Accounting are among the best options. For inventory management, you can use InFlow, Sortly, ZhenHub, Zoho, or the free & open source Odoo. One good piece of advice I can give you, especially for the early stages of businesses and startups, is to avoid using such services since they are designed to work with larger data than a big business is expected to have. A simple spreadsheet software/tool like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheet is more than enough to handle small business needs.
Video Conference & Screen Share Software
As a business developer, or basically as someone who is working online and from home, using online conference meeting software is a must. With the current situation with the pandemic and all the social distancing rules and regulations, nearly all of the business meetings you are going to have will be via the internet. Using certain video conference software is something that we all know & learned after using them a few times. Google Meet, Skype, and Zoom are the most popular among all. While some of them actually have screen-sharing capabilities, software like TeamViewer & AnyDesk can be useful even more because they are packed with more features.
Project & Business Management Software
Business development, especially in big businesses & companies, is a massively complex task. As mentioned before, business development includes working with different departments across the company, which means dealing with many people and different tasks both inside & outside the circle of the business. While project management is rather easier in small businesses, you will need good project management software to keep up with all the stuff. The best available software for project management is Microsoft Project, but there are some online alternatives too. Monday, Gantter, Basecamp, Trello, and Asana are the best available online services for project management.
Marketing Tools & Services
Marketing Tools & Services are actually a combination of many tools that make marketing strategies together. However, for the sake of the title, we can assume marketing tools as individual entities that enable us to create marketing campaigns like online advertisements and other forms of marketing. The best tools you can have at your disposal are services like Mailchimp & AWeber for email marketing and AdRoll, Google AdMob, and Google Adsense for digital marketing & online advertisement.
CRM Tools & Services
Another piece that makes marketing strategy work is CRM or Customer Relation Management tools & services. CRM tools help businesses to take care of their customers, increase their brand trust among them, and provide online support if customers have questions or encounter problems. CRM tools are usually included in many project management tools but there are online alternatives like Zendesk, Zoho CRM, and PipeDrive which are offering industry-standard services to large companies & enterprises.
Analytics Tools & Services
Analytics tools & services help you to keep track of your website traffic and search appearances. There are two services that Google provided for free. Google Analytics for tracking website inbound traffic including live tracking and Google Search Console which provides data regarding website search appearance as well as monitoring website for issues & problems. These two are actually vital tools for all websites and knowing how to implement them and how to use them effectively for your website SEO ranking and content strategies are crucial for your business success.
Site Audit & SEO Tools
Apart from Google Search Console that I’ve mentioned earlier, there are additional and more useful tools for auditing websites for potential problems as well as SEO issues. They also provide a lot of extra tools to help your SEO content strategy including competitor research, keyword research, and rank tracking. The ahrefs, Moz, Alexa, and SEMrush are the best SEO tools for your website & business. Also, services like Google PageSpeed Insight & GTmetrix are good site audit apps that provide a lot of information to improve your website speed.
Content Management Systems
CMS or Content Management System is software that helps you to make a website. There are a lot of CMSs you can learn and use for your website or your business website, but WordPress is the most popular one since it runs more than 40% of the entire website on the internet, including websites belonging to many big businesses and large companies. It is free, open-source, and modular so you can shape it to any kind of website you want by using different Plugins and themes. If you are going to work for a business as a business developer, there is a big chance that their website is powered by WordPress so try to learn this CMS as much as possible because it is an important skill for businesses and business development in general.
How to Learn Skills via The Pentagon of Business Development?
I designed The Pentagon of Business Development or The Five-Pillar System by taking the factor of learning skills into consideration. That is why my categorization is more specific and in order, beginning with communication and ending with computer skills. The idealogy behind it is simple. It follows the standard process of business development, meaning that you need communication skills in the first step of the business development process, teamwork and management in the second step, and personal, technical, and computer skills in the third step of the process.
A normal person with even a little unrelated experience in online businesses unconsciously learned some of the above-said skills. Learning the rest of the skills should be easy. Just remember which step of the business development you are in and what skills correspond with the current step. Then you will know what to learn during the work or before implementing. For example, If you are in the first step, there are a lot of meetings, talks, and convincing actions required, so try to learn some of the tips & tricks for a good presentation or first impression. This way, you can easily manage the process of learning in a project-based approach (learning when working).
Business development is surely a fancy job title, but becoming a business developer isn’t as easy as just calling someone a business developer. There are a lot of skills and experience involved. Currently, we have different categorization systems for business development skills that business developers require. There is just one big problem with many of them. They are too general.
For example, one of the most common systems categorized all of the skills, which are literally infinite, into two categories: Soft skills & Hard skills. Well, they are too general, and of course, hard to learn. So I’ve designed a system for categorizing these skills. As a business developer, you have to learn a lot of skills and the system that I’m proposing can actually help you learn them easier and keep track of what you have to learn or already learned.
The Pentagon of Business Development or the Five-Pillar System is the system I’ve designed to provide a better categorization system for business development skills. It consists of five separate skillsets: Communication skills, Management & Teamwork skills, Personal skills, Technical skills, and Computer skills. This system puts the skills and sub-skills in a logical order similar to the order of the steps in the standard process of business development. You will know what skills you will need for each step of business development and will learn them beforehand. TPBD also helps you to improve your project-based learning approach (learning while working) because about 80% of the skills a business developer has come from real-life experiences rather than reading them in a book or learning them in a seminar.
The provided skills in this article are those that I could remember by the time I was writing this article. Certainly, there is a lot more to learn. Even I am still learning new stuff every day by working on different projects. Therefore the list can be expanded but every skill you can imagine will fall within one of the five skillsets in the TPBD. The key to the TPBD is, of course, to learn, learn, and learn more!