Business development in start-ups: focusing on strategic direction
Business development plays an especially important role in start-ups in terms of the strategic direction. The early stages are a time for analyzing market opportunities, establishing new business areas and developing the company, and good instincts are needed to create a solid foundation. Ultimately, it is important to decide before actually founding the company how future business areas are to be opened up and what business structures and resources will be needed for this.
Business area development: significant differences to established companies
Unlike longstanding companies, start-ups usually do not have customer databases or established business contacts. The related structures are still under development at the beginning in particular. Companies that have been operating for a long time can rely on comprehensive market studies or surveys and take these into account when making decisions. Tight deadlines and limited funding and staff in many start-ups, meanwhile, often mean that quick decisions are needed for dynamic business development.
However, start-ups usually have the advantage of short lines of communication and greater operational flexibility when it comes to business area development. As they are not bound by existing structures or complex customer relationships, they are not constrained in their fundamental decisions either.
Special challenges of start-up business development
In addition to the fundamental challenges, there are often specific difficulties when it comes to business development in start-ups. New players are typically highly dynamic. It is not unusual for business goals, potential business areas or entire business models to change very quickly during the initial phase. In such an environment, business development’s task of ensuring sustainable growth also comes with the opportunity for proactive involvement in many areas of the company and to function as a driving force in developing the start-up’s strategy.
Even after the early phase, business development remains an important and active driver of a startup’s dynamic evolution. Accordingly, business development is a rapidly changing role that covers many areas of a company. While the initial focus is on creating long-term value, for instance, this then switches later to the development and expansion of structures, processes and profitable customer relationships with the goal of systematically and intentionally pursuing the company’s further development.
Special requirements of business developers
Special skills are required of business developers in a start-up. First and foremost, they need to be generalists with not only the necessary expertise but also superb problem-solving and leadership abilities and a strong hands-on approach.
As business developers play a key role at the company’s interfaces, good persuasion skills when working with specialists are also a definite advantage. In a dynamic environment with limited resources, strict project management discipline is also needed to avoid losing sight of the priorities that have been set down for business development.
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