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Business Development: Thrive or Die?

By: Allison Raduziner, Pilchuck Business Consulting 

One of the worst moments of my career happened while I was relatively young. A Superintendent walked into my office and said, “Where is my next job going to come from?”

The problem was, I didn’t know where the next job was coming from. Even worse, I was the primary person responsible for getting jobs for the firm. I realized at this moment that the 50+ employees in the firm were relying on a handful of people to keep their paychecks coming. Something had to give.

So what do you do if you find yourself in this situation?

  1. Embrace a firm-wide BD culture: I began my efforts to train my firm into becoming a Business Development-aware firm. Business Development is the overall strategy about how and from whom a firm gets business. It depends on the firm's experience, employee experience, their passion for different types of work. Each employee sees many project opportunities throughout any given day but is simply not aware of it! Teaching employees this awareness and what a lead is, how to track it, and whom to bring it to is half the effort. It sets a solid foundation for a Business Development Aware firm.
  2. Train your staff to become BD machines: Each person in your firm knows what is happening on their block, in their neighborhood, town/city, region, in their world. The leader’s task is to coach them on what to look for. Do they spend time on social media? See if those who are most active can be dedicated to learning about new business, growth, during part of their browsing time. How many social functions do they attend weekly? Their kids’ sporting events, church functions, council meetings, clubs, family events, simply driving through their daily routines. These are all opportunities to connect with people who might bring business to the firm.
  3. Turn fear into action: Based off my terror for potentially letting down potentially 150 people from food on the table and a roof over their head, I started working with the entire firm on what a lead is, when to recognize it, and what the process is to report it. I have since guided several firms toward this venture as the first step in Business Development. One doesn’t know what one doesn’t know…so I taught them. Our early efforts were spectacular. The first step in Business Development is recognizing when someone or some area is planning for development. Don’t just bring in the job for the firm, harness the energy of the firm…or, don’t give a man a fish, teach him how to fish. They will then have food for a lifetime.

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