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Business Development 101: All Basics for Beginners [+Video]

A business development blog wouldn’t be much without explaining what business development is and who a business developer is. The importance of this business dev thing is from here all the way to the international space station and beyond.

That is a critical part of every business and every industry. So I try to explain business development as simple as I can, and as perfect as it could be.

a man talking at a meeting

Business development is a bold job title and business developers are usually bald. I’m not and maybe I should do something about it!

This is a beginner’s guide to business development. You will find exactly what you need to know, and how to go towards the path of becoming a business developer (or join a business development team).

Now! Fasten your seatbelts because we are going to learn about this fancy job title at the speed of light.

Business Development 101 [Video]

Watch this video from my YouTube channel if you’re not in the mood of reading an article today.

What is Business Development?

It’s simple. Business development is a set of practices that helps businesses grow and improve; it helps businesses to develop beyond what they are at the moment. In one sentence, It makes a business better.

This is a practice that is a business developer is responsible for, but such tasks can’t be done by a single person, but with a dedicated team across different departments in a company.

2 men talking about a product

Business development is critical for every company’s success.

Business development is one massive task, and most of the time concerns the long-term growth of the business. It involves many people and teams working together to achieve a single goal which is business growth.

Well! I said simply a few lines above but let me tell you the truth. It’s complicated and needs more elaboration. But worry not because I’m going to tell you everything.

The Goal of Business Development

You might say that the goal of business development is implied in its general definition explained above, and you’re right! The general goal range from Starting a Business, improving it, expanding it, and growing stats and numbers so the business itself can perform at its perfection.

It aims to business growth and improvement; to make a business better. This is usually looked into as the long term added value to a business. Every task that is performed in order to increase clients, sales, profits, and revenue of a company falls within the category of business development.

The goal is the same across all industries, but the meaning is different since each business defines improvement differently from others. In a business developer’s mind, improvement is higher sales for an eCommerce store and more clients for a tech company, cost savings for a small business, and increasing profitability for a manufacturer. The objective of every company for developing their businesses is different, but all leading to growth as discussed.

goals on sticky note on the wall

Business development goals are usually outlined to clarify what the company actually wants and what decisions should be made to reach them.

Rest assured that developing a business is one hell of a complicated challenging task to do. In order to achieve the set goal (and sometimes many different goals), first, the underlying business plan should be determined before digging deeper into the overall performance of the business, which is the second step; to determine the current business situation.

Third, and in my opinion, the most crucial one, is to lay down a business schematic for the near and far future of the company for reaching the set goal(s). In this schematic (or map if you like) everything that can lead to growth had been outlined. They usually include:

  • New Ideas
  • New opportunities
  • Partnership possibilities
  • New potential markets
  • New marketing strategies
  • Cost-saving solutions
  • And anything that falls within this category

The Business Plan

What happens next is the team discusses the content of the schematic to create a comprehensive business plan. Business development involves crucial decision-making based on real data that had been analyzed and assessed. The business plant is the result of such discussions and decision makings.

Follow that business plan and your business will be improved, your sales will increase, and you earn higher profits. It sounds simple; create a business plan and follow it to achieve the goal. But trust me, it’s not. As a business developer, you have to make the entire business to function perfectly together.

business plan meeting

A business plan is not a piece of paper with some drawings, but it is usually a thick pamphlet that elaborates every step the company should take.

All departments should work together so the goal can be achieved, and you (or your team) have to make that happen; to make business expansion and growth happen. It’s all a reciprocating system that the results will affect all departments including sales, marketing, human resources, financials, manufacture, etc.

The business plan is what drives the entire business to glory, so it should be designed specifically for that business after a lot of high precision analysis and higher-level decision makings. There is no single business plan for every business. There isn’t a single or predetermined practice that can do the trick. You have to design a new business plan every time you came across a company that needs a business developer.

That’s business development after all. It will bear some difficulties along the way like all the other jobs out there. In my mind, designing a business plan is not difficult at all when you see some real challenges that are laid ahead. Although a perfectly designed business plan tends to encounter fewer problems, it is inevitable to see some barriers when executing your business plan.

Business Development Across Departments

I can assure you that business development can’t be the efforts of a single person, but a team of business developers who are in good shape with other departments in a company. All departments should work together based on the determined business plan in order for the business to actually develop.

Sometimes it goes beyond the borders of a company to a profitable partnership with another, so business developers should manage the plan execution by other departments as perfectly as possible.

man and woman handshaking during a business meeting

If all departments collaborate effectively, then business development goals will be achieved sooner. This is the responsibility of business developers to keep all departments on the line.

After all, it’s for the sake of the company which all departments are working for. When the business development goals are achieved, meaning that there is growth in revenue and profit, then the entire company will be affected. It can include all departments such as:

  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Accounting & Financials
  • Manufacturing
  • Human resources
  • etc.

Therefore we can assume that the entire company is somehow responsible for achieving business development goals. That means every single employee who performs a task for a better result is contributing to the overall development of the company and business.

Business Development Across Industries

Sometimes, business development goals require a company to negotiate a partnership with another. This means taking the development efforts beyond the border of a single company into another. There are might be tasks and jobs that a single company can’t perform well, or there might be suitable and cost-effective to outsource them or bond business partnerships.

For instance, a manufacturer that has already been selling its products in European markets wants to expand its market to the US. There are many barriers along the way some of which are marketing, regulations, manufacturing, shipping, etc.

supermarket isle

Many companies form business relationships and partnerships in order to expand their market overseas. Partner companies usually know the destination’s market regulations and restrictions better, so they can manage the product effectively.

It depends on the business development team to determine to enter the competitive US market themselves or form a partnership with a company over there. They should decide to manufacture the product in Europe and ship it to the US or start a new manufacturing line in the US. Maybe even outsource manufacturing process over there to cut shipping costs. These are the decisions that usually end up in the formation of business partnerships, they benefit both sides to some extent.

Forming a business partnership is usual among all kinds of companies and industries, and can be achieved by a skilled negotiating team with good soft skills and networking techniques. We can say that all industries need one another, and no company can do all the work alone. So we have business partnerships, and it is essential for all businesses who want to improve.

4 men fist bumping

Even the biggest companies out there are somehow collaborate to achieve different common goals. Partnerships, if formed correctly, benefit both sides.

I must add that business partnership is not always a solution for business development. Sometimes it is solely for the purpose of cost-saving. Many companies are outsourcing their accounting, tax work, financial management, etc. to other firms. It is a proven cost-cutting solution.

There are also firms or people (like me) who provide business development services, but it is only recommended for the early stages of businesses and startups. Bigger and older companies should employ business developers and form development teams to get out better results from the efforts they put in.

Who is a Business Developer?

Business developers are a rare breed of humble species that came around right after the foundation of modern civilizations laid by ancient empires. Only back then these fellows were called something else. Don’t ask me, I’m not a historian.

History of Business Development and Business Developers

On the left, we have an ancient business developer trying to analyze some market data and on the right, we have a handsome modern business developer posing for his resume photo.

Business developers are people who help businesses grow and improve. They are trained and skilled in various areas of expertise that I talked about in a few paragraphs below. Freelancer business developers like me usually help startups and small to medium businesses to improve and expand in their markets.

On the other hand, big companies and industries usually hire their own business developers and call them the business development department. Such teams consist of a number of business developers, each specialized in a certain area of expertise.

Who Needs a Business Developer?

Basically, all businesses, from a small supermarket to a multinational corporation, require business development at a certain point in their life. This is the job that business developers will do for them. Some business developers are freelancers, while others are employed to work for a company.

Big corporations and companies are constantly trying to develop their business. Small businesses do this too but the scale is different by miles. While small businesses are trying to emerge in new markets, big ones are trying to stick in people’s heads through complex marketing campaigns and social engineering, and this happens every day.

A busy building filled with people

Large corporations with huge budgets and skilled business developers are always a few steps ahead when it comes to expanding their business and company.

That is why big companies only hire business developers for certain developments within the company and leave the development of business overall performance to the hand of their special department. On the other hand, smaller businesses, and especially startups who are in the early stages of their business, hire business developers and listen to them to improve and grow their business.

Also, small businesses usually focused on one or two business development goals at the same time, like new markets and cost-saving solutions. This is a different story for big companies. They are doing all sorts of development at the same time. Everything that there is in the category of business development is always ongoing for big corporations.

Most Important Business Development Skills

If you ask me about the most important skills a business developer should know, I will tell you everything. The more you know, of course, the better. A business developer should have as much information as possible about most of the aspects that general businesses run on. They will help you get hired more and deliver better results.

Think out of the box sign on a chair

Try to do this to become a good business developer!

What I’m trying to tell you is to know everything, which is impossible. But try this. Learn about the gist of every subject that is necessary for business development. This is the exact strategy I used to become a freelance business developer. I noted down some of the skills and knowledge you might need if a business development job popped up:

  • Soft Skills (Communication, Persuasion, Negotiation)
  • Networking (Get to know more people)
  • Collaboration & Teamwork Skills
  • Management Skills
  • Organizational Skills
  • Creative Skills
  • Data Analysis Skills
  • SWOT Analysis Skills (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)
  • Marketing Skills
  • Computer Skills
  • Research & Development
  • Competitor Research
  • Market Research
  • Business Intelligence

There are hundreds more, but these will set you off on the right path. You don’t need to master each and every one of the items in this list. You just need to know the fundamentals. This is only to understand the concept and look for the correct solutions or experts. This should be your task when you are free. Learn more things about businesses.

Plus you should always work on your network. Business developers outsource many tasks to the people in their networks. Look for experts and specialists in different areas of business development. Get to know them, befriend them, and call them in times of need. They’ll be like your team that will help you when you are working on a big development project.

Final Thoughts

Honestly, there is not a single definition for business development. Everything I’ve just said here can be explained completely different. Maybe every business developer has his/her own way of defining this term. Maybe each of them can give you a unique way of creating a business plan and facing problems. It’s all different among business developers.

There is not a single definition and, surely, there is not a predetermined formula to business development. You can be a business developer and create your own strategies to deal with projects and problems. That is what I can say for sure.

Please take a moment and tell me in the comments which skills do you already have and which one you are going to learn first. Also, if you have any opinion, question, or suggestion make sure you leave a comment. I’ll reply as soon as I can.

I hope you can make some use out of this article. I hope what I’ve said here can help you become a business developer and go toward the path of this job.

If you liked this article and found it helpful, make sure to share it so your friends can read it as well.

Thanks a lot & good luck!

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