Most entrepreneurs, business executives, and marketers understand the importance of business development; so why do most startups still fail to incorporate this essential process? Although business development is a broad and somewhat generic term, it essentially equates to revenue growth generated from sales and marketing efforts. I’ve taken my bumps and bruises from having poor business development plans and assure you it’s crucial for any startup.
We love to get paid for what we do, right? Our goals are to grow our client base into a vibrant network of unlimited revenue, but this isn’t easy and takes longer than anticipated. These tips can help you get there faster, with less headaches.
Business owners launch new products and services daily – often without a clear business development plan in place, or even an awareness of their prospective clients’ patterns and behaviors. Let’s face it, everyone that launches a business wants to be a successful entrepreneur, but many fail to gather the proper information to know and grow their ideal client base.
Long gone are the days of relying on countless cold calls, purchased email lists or the imaginary mindset of “if you build it, they will come.” This was never a great system, but now it is becoming impossible to see sustainable results.
From my experience, working with 20+ startups and advising many other small businesses, I’ve pinpointed 5 common reasons that seem to surface and prevent startups from implementing an effective growth plan. There are many aspects to business development, but whether having to shut down a failed startup, or consulting with startups struggling with increasing revenue, these mistakes continue to plague new enterprises.
1. Ego or Pride
This can be one of the most challenging obstacles to overcome when managing a startup. You have the vision, the perfect product, a sound executive team, but you try to accomplish everything yourself. As a startup founder or executive, it can be difficult to delegate, especially when it relates to what you’ve worked tirelessly to create and implement.
We know it’s your business baby, but wearing too many (or ill-suited) hats can cause a diffusion of focus and detract from the drive to successful growth. Take a step back, delegate when necessary, listen to others and don’t assume you’re the only one with all the right answers.
2. Ignoring Feedback
Not surprisingly, startup founders who eat, sleep, and breathe their business usually become emotionally attached and can lose objectivity. This can cause you to stubbornly dismiss valuable feedback and continue down an unproductive path. Seek advice from respected experts, mentors and successful entrepreneurs to gain more in-depth knowledge of how your product or service is perceived. Have an open mind when listening to what people are saying about their direct experiences with your product or service.
Advice from family and friends should be taken with caution, because they can either be overly pessimistic or conversely, reluctant to provide negative feedback for fear of offending you. Positive feedback is encouraging, but not as beneficial as honest feedback, even if it’s negative.
3. Insufficient Client Behavior Data
Back to that amazing product you have – what now? Do you understand what will compel someone to buy your product or service? Have you conducted multiple beta tests, surveyed your potential market, or actually sold the product yourself? If not, fight through the trenches, make numerous calls to verify the need and identify the true value proposition of your product. This can take quite some time, so be patient! A branding system of outreach and feedback is what’s needed here to identify client behavior.
4. Incorrect Branding
This goes hand-in-hand with knowing your client’s buying behavior. Identifying your brand is crucial, but few understand what “branding” truly is. Branding is the soul of your startup and what your entire business is based on. Your product offering will be lost in translation without identifying and having laser focus on your brand. Know your audience, what you are selling, the why, and build an engaging story around the product. BE CLEAR, BE CONCISE, BE CONSISTENT!
Mark Toney, CEO of Luce Media, “There is really only one thing you need for a successful brand…that one thing, is a brand strategy. In a nutshell, your brand strategy outlines what you do, how you do it, who you do it for, and why you do it. Pretty simple but so, so important!”
5. Ineffective Marketing and Sales Tactics
A common mistake is to publish content without having a clear strategy for your marketing messages, or presenting material that have not been thoroughly researched. Proceed as if you have only one opportunity to capture your prospect’s attention – it may very well be your only chance to do so. This is especially true with online content. Your marketing strategy should contain a detailed plan about what blogs, pictures, media posts, and email campaigns you can produce to engage your clients within your branding scope.
Everyone loves cute puppy pictures, but if puppy photos are irrelevant to your brand, don’t use them – keep the content focused on your brand and what your audience wants.
Regarding your sales approach, do you make tons of cold calls to generate leads? Are you begging everyone you know to share your content and connect you to influencers? These are tiresome and low conversion sales generation methods. Although targeted outbound sales initiatives can be included in your plan, engage inbound marketing strategies that use your branded content to create demand. Be the passionate business owner you are and generate compelling content that positions you as the thought leader in your industry. A good inbound marketing plan will drive clients to you!
Robert Manasier, CEO of In Focus Brands, “Effective sales and marketing execution starts with a clearly delineated target market that is interested, engaged and QUALIFIED to buy what you are offering. We live in a buyer’s world so our job is to educate and make it easier for a prospective client to buy from us versus our competitors. It rarely has anything to do with price alone but the value you communicate.”
Don’t neglect the importance of developing a business development strategy before launching your startup, or even when modifying your current revenue growth approach. These days, it’s easier than ever to launch a business, which means intense competition. Focus on your clients, stick to your plan and build a long-lasting brand. Good luck!
Now is your turn!
Does your startup struggle with business development?
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