Online And Offline Business Development And Tips

By Business Development we mean the methods or techniques used to develop an economic or business enterprise. The first step in business development is to assess a business. Then its full potential is realized using various tools such as sales, marketing, customer service and information management. A meticulously planned strategy for expanding the business in a desirable direction is necessary every now and then. To achieve sustained growth it is necessary to be prepared to meet any unforeseen circumstances with resourcefulness. In case of large well-established firms, business development may often refer to building and running strategic associations and coalitions with other, intermediary companies.

Previously all businesses relied solely upon offline media and business development strategies to grow the business. However the internet has begun to make a large impact on the global markets. In 2007, online marketing is projected to constitute nearly 12-15% of global budgets. The internet has become a major source of revenue, information, beta testing and R&D for many of the companies. Many of the smaller firms are preparing to make use of the social media boom and grab a share of this up-and-coming market. The best way to go ahead for medium sized companies eager to increase their size rapidly while keeping the companies essentials would be to take note of these points:

The core team must work as a single unit and also be excited about forthcoming ventures. Individual skills should be developed through scrutiny and testing people. As a source to companies who seek a global approach to the internet, you must offer the best possible vertically integrated experience.

Offline Media

In offline media, marketing firms are in the forefront. There is some responsible person, who administers the overall employment of all marketing policies and tactics. The reason for this is that there are enormous sums of marketing millions to be utilized and optimized. But now the marketing dollars are moving from conventional media to a balanced synergy of online and offline strategies. Hence a lot of alterations can be estimated.

Online Media

There is an immense business prospect in understanding the big picture of the internet and how the online marketing dollars can have a serious impact. The lack of good quality, highly skilled executives in the upper levels of management is a major hindrance to India’s progress in this direction. Also transparency is a very important part of online business. Otherwise customers may not repose trust in the companies. Be ready to take smart steps whenever required, because that is the way to go in online marketing. Take your opportunity when it comes.

The right way to go would be to diversify the business using both online and offline undertakings. In comparison, perhaps the best feature of online business is the unlimited marketing scalability. Rather than depending just on local customers, it is possible to have customers from any part of the globe on the internet. The only major drawback is that direct face-to-face transactions are not possible. Hence many people still prefer to buy commodities from their local shopkeepers and businessmen. The local market and customers shouldn’t be forgotten. It is more likely that they would constitute a bigger portion of your consumer base. Each of them therefore has its own importance and the best road for any businessman would be to take the middle path of integration.

Business Planning – A Good Business Development Strategy is Crucial for Success

As part of my consulting practice, I read and review business plans written both for venture capitalists and for grant applications. The weakest part of every business plan is always how will the company get from today to “the dream” five years out.

Usually, there is a pretty good description of what will happen in the next six months and a decent description of what will happen in five years, but there is nothing in between.

Technical entrepreneurs have a good handle on what product development they need to do to get the product into a usable form. They understand the costs and the time involved. However, once the product is developed, they seem to be at a loss as to what to do next.

The lack of a business development executive early in the process often leads to the product being developed in a vacuum. There is a bit of a chicken and egg problem here: start-ups don’t feel like they can afford a business development person until they sell product and they can’t figure out how to sell a product without business development.

Also, I’ve noted that a number of engineer or scientist CEOs tend to discount the role of business development, as if the science behind the product is really what sells the product. This is just not true – if it was true, universities would be a lot richer.

A company is a machine, each part is equally as important as every other part. For instance, you may have the hottest, top of the line engine in your car, but without tires, the car isn’t going anywhere. And continuing on with the car analogy, you can purchase cheap, junky tires. If you do, your car won’t perform at its best and will eventually crash and burn.

A good business development executive will plot each step of the way how your product will go from prototype to dollars in the bank account. At the early stages of your company, if you cannot afford to hire a business development exec, look for an adviser who has performed the role for other companies and listen to him or her carefully. Your business development plan should include

  • An Assessment of the Market Opportunities – Who is it who might want to buy your product? What do they have now? What is their purchasing cycle? Who at that company actually makes the purchasing decision?
  • Competitive Analysis – Who is trying to sell into the same space? Why is their product worse? Why is it better? Don’t forget inertia as a competitor. As an example, everyone should have a will, but many people do not because they just don’t get around to it.
  • Lead Generation – Once the market is narrowed down, you need a good strategy for how you are going to find the people who want your product.
  • Follow-up Sales Activity – This is broken into two categories, one pre-sale, one post-sale. You should have a strategy for how to deal with potential clients who have been contacted, but are not interested at this time. You also need a strategy for reconnecting with the customers once the sale is complete. Even if you do not think they will need another product from you, they may be able to give you a referral.
  • Pipeline Development – There should always be another customer in the pipeline. Without a strong pipeline of continuous customers, you will be unable to forecast sales and are likely to get caught short on cashflow.

Don’t neglect the business development strategy when building your business plan. If you are planning for five years out, know what you will be doing over the next six months, year, two years, three years, and so forth.

Business Development Training: Follow Up Business Opportunities

Consider the scenario of a business networking event. These are superb sources of leads and referrals that can be the life blood of your business. The business skills you develop in this arena can easily be applied in any business scenario. Assume you have engaged in conversation with a good potential contact. Once you have created a positive first impression start the interesting chat about various areas of common ground. By careful listening, you may identify an opportunity to do some business to your mutual benefit at some later date. You are looking for the moment when someone says something to you to make you think, “Ahaa, there’s a potential business opportunity here.” Suppose you are a business development consultant who specialises in the food industry and who has a good track record in helping companies to increase their margins. If you were asking all the right questions such as “So how you finding things at the moment?”, and you hear the answer “We’re doing reasonably well but we don’t seem to be getting the efficiencies in the factory.” That is an Ahaa moment.

Can I mention again, that networking using business development skills isn’t selling; it’s building business relationships, and gathering business information?

This should be the start of the follow up business development process which is as follows

1. Ask for their business card and read it carefully.

2. Always find something to comment on; maybe the spelling of their name or perhaps they have their business in a particular part of town which you know intimately. It doesn’t matter as long as you show them that you are interested in them, their business and their circumstances.

3. Now this is a key moment. Ask if you can phone them next Wednesday or Thursday to discuss the problem they have with their margins. You can say something like “Now isn’t the time or place, but maybe your problem is a simple issue which I can give you some help on”. The chances are if you have made the right impression, the answer will be “yes”.

4. Bear in mind all the time that if you don’t ask the question then you don’t give the other person, with the business opportunity, a chance to say yes.. You will be at your most popular at this juncture. If you have done it all right, are you really going to waste a great opportunity? Not every business event and not every person you meet is going to turn into a business opportunity but if you are awake alive and alert, listening attentively and with empathy… you just never know.

5. Write down on their business card the day you have agreed to call and let them see you do this. This shows that you are serious and the chances are you’re likely to do it. At this point, there is no reason whatsoever not to excuse yourself in one of several ways which we will show you another time.

6. As part of the bridging process ensure that when you get back home or to your office or even before you leave the business networking event write down where and when you met the person a quick description of them and any salient facts which you may use at a future date to show them that you are truly listening to what they had to say.

7. When you make the follow up call as agreed, review the business card or refer to your business development software if you use it and confirm that they were happy for you to follow up. If you had picked up that the person was going away for weekend then make sure that one of the questions you ask is “How did the weekend go?” I’m not asking you to remember these details. What I am doing is asking you to write down some small talk facts that you gathered on their business card. It helps break down their barriers to talking about business.
When I ask my audiences “what is the most important thing with regard to business cards?” the normal answer I get is “make sure you carry plenty of them with you”. Of course you know now that the most important thing is to ask for theirs. Offer your business card by all means, but don’t be too quick to do this. I think it’s a little pushy and it’s another form of saying “aha you want to know all about me don’t you. Here’s my business card”. It just may be that they don’t want to know all about you … not at that moment anyway. There’s a lot more to say about business development training and in particular working the room but you can find out about that on my other articles.
Take note that business development and networking is about giving first and receiving second. If you go into it thinking “What’s in it for me and what am I going to get out of this tonight” then the chances are you won’t succeed. If you ask questions such as

· “How can I help you?”

· “Who would you like me to introduce you to?”

· “How will I know if someone I’m talking to will be a good introduction for you?”

You will be showing them you are a proficient and skilled business networker.

Dr. Albert Scweizer once said “Give without remembering and receive without forgetting”. That should stand you in good stead when you’re out there looking to create new business opportunities.

SBA Proposed Changes to the 8(a) Business Development Program

The Small Business Administration has announced proposals for the improvement of the 8(a) Business Development Program for disadvantaged small businesses. The first comprehensive review of the 8(a) program in several years resulted with the proposed 8 (a) regulation changes that were published in the Federal Register. The public comment period on the proposed changes is open for 60 days.

SBA Administrator Karen Mills said about the proposed changes that they will “strengthen the program and and maximize its benefits for eligible small businesses”. “The 8(a) program has a proven record as an effective program for helping disadvantaged small businesses gain access to training and contracting opportunities to help them grow, create jobs and ultimately succeed in the marketplace once they graduate from the program”, said Mills.

The 8(a) program is designed to help businesses that meet the SBA’s criteria for being socially and economically disadvantaged. In effort to help small businesses grow and motivate people to starting a small business, this program provides them with access to government contracting opportunities, specialized business training and counseling, and help with their small business marketing and high-level executive development. In fiscal 2008, small businesses received over $16 billion in 8(a) contracts.

Some of the proposed changes of the 8(a) program include:

* Economic Disadvantage: Adjustments to how assets, gross income and retirement savings are considered when determining whether the company is economically disadvantaged.
* Ownership and Control Requirements: The proposed changes would provide flexibility in admitting immediate family members of current and former 8(a) participants into the program.
* Joint Ventures: The proposal would require 8(a) firms to perform significant portion of the work on joint ventures, ensuring that they are able to build capacity.
* Business size for Primary Industry: Requiring that the firm stays small for its primary industry while participating in the 8(a) program.

Details of the proposed rule can be viewed in the Federal Register.