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What does business development mean to you?

Posted by Martin Harshberger

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Feb 6, 2017 12:17:45 PM

simple strategy BD and ops.jpgThere have been numerous studies on business development. From the high growth gazelles distributed through the SBA to David Thompson’s book “Blueprint to a Billion” They all say essentially the same thing. It’s not a mystery, there are several key items identified that all successful companies share.

 So why aren’t there more successful companies?

 I may be a living example of the answer to that question. Way back in 1989 I left a then, Fortune 500 company, to start my own business. I left a secure well-paying position, went out and found investors and did a ground up startup.

 I had no idea what I didn’t know.


I was lucky, I had somehow started with a value proposition that was strong enough to overcome my lack of knowledge and inexperience. Our startup grew to over 500 employees in the United States and Europe, and about $50M in sales.

 10 Years later I left the company as many founders do, and tried to decide what to do with the rest of my life.  Through a network of friends and connections I began coaching businesses on strategy and business development, which I’m still doing 16 years later.

 So back to my original question, why aren’t there more successful companies?

 I’ve spent the last 26 years working with companies from startups to mid-tier in numerous markets and industries. The combination of my own business and what I’ve seen from the many others I’ve worked with have provided me with a wealth of knowledge for which I’m grateful.

 I find many business owners and CEO’s are where I was way back in 1989, they don’t know what they don’t know. Some acknowledge it and work to learn, and some don’t. Speaking from my own experience, the talents and skills that got you into business are often not the ones that grow it, add shareholder value and make it viable for the long-term.

 My observations over the past 16 years has taught me that business development is a process. It’s not a department in the company, it isn’t sales or marketing, it’s an on-going learning and development process that never ends. What worked 10 years ago isn’t going to cut it today. The buying cycle has changed dramatically, and the buyer is more knowledgeable and much more in control. That can be scary for business owners. It can also be a great opportunity.

The playing field has changed and small companies can compete more effectively with larger competitors if they know how.

Click on the link below for a free copy of our eBook, Barriers to Business Development

 Download here


Topics: Business development

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