People often undervalue Business Development as a critical function in a startup. What is it? How does it differ from Sales, Marketing, Major Accounts? When is the company big enough to dedicate a full headcount to Business Development?
Less understood than most titles, and widely ranging in responsibilities, BusDev is the critical glue between todays sales functions and the senior management. BusDev is relationships, longer term thinking, non-revenue partnerships, communication between Sales, Marketing, Engineering and Finance if you have all of those covered.
BusDev people see the potential connections between your company and several others. They also find creative ways to do business or vastly improve business relationships, especially when they can work with BusDev counterparts at target partners. It’s like the 2 lead guitarists of 2 bands playing together going off into the corner and working on just their parts, and relationship. They’re focused on one thing. The BusDev people are also focused on one thing – taking the businesses beyond a simple linear transaction based relationship. They don’t worry about this weeks revenue or finance, etc.
In a smaller or earlier stage startup, the CEO covers most areas that have no dedicated leader, BusDev being the most common unfilled spot. Sometimes this works but often not. The problem is when the CEO is not a good match for this position – in experience, skill set or desire. It also distracts him/her from other CEO functions, and is not as impressive to the client, partners.
So, if you can afford a strong BusDev investment early, it can be a secret weapon that ensures your long term scalability and gets you funded.
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