Business development is the creation of long-term value for an organization from customers, markets, and relationships.
There is elegance in simplicity, but perhaps this definition leaves you wanting more. At its heart, business development is all about figuring out how the interactions of those forces combine together to create opportunities for growth. However, a theorem requires proper proof, so let us break that statement down.
- Long-Term Value: In its simplest form, “value” is cash, money, benefit the lifeblood of any business (but it can also be access, prestige, or anything else a company seeks in order to grow). In addition, there are plenty of ways to make a quick buck for you or your company. However, business development is not about get-rich-quick schemes and I-win-you-lose tactics that create value that has gone tomorrow as easily as it came today. It is about creating opportunities for that value to persist over the long-term, to keep the floodgates open so that value can flow indefinitely. Thinking about business development as a means of creating long-term value is the only true way to succeed in consistently growing an organization.
- Markets: That is because of customers “live” in specific markets. Identifying opportunities to reach new customers by entering into new markets is one important gateway to unlocking long-term value.
- Relationships: Just as the planets and stars rely on gravity to keep them in orbit, any successful business development effort relies on an underlying foundation of strong relationships. The building, managing, and leveraging relationships that are based on trust, respect, and a mutual appreciation of each other’s value is fundamental to enabling the flow of value for the long-term. Relationships with partners, customers, employees, the press, etc. are all critical to the success of any business development effort and as such, they demand a bold-faced spot in any comprehensive definition of the term.
So, is business development actually sales? Is it partnerships? Is it all about hustling? Well, frankly, yes. It is all of the above and as we will see in future posts, it is much more. A complicated and fascinating discipline deserves a clear understanding so that we can marvel at the beauty of a well-done deal as much as the stars.