I have been in business for more than 20 years and have launched and successfully sold six companies. That being said, finding talent — and having someone from the outside telling me what I was doing wrong — could have helped me avoid a lot of mistakes along the way.
In today’s business environment, there are so many exciting things happening. This is led primarily by the Silicon Valley sector. Young, innovative and adaptive to the ever-changing technology, these companies drive a trillion-dollar engine that reaches all over the globe in milliseconds, changing the fabric of the way we do business forever. This is a reflection of a public that wants things to be faster, easier, cheaper and user-friendly. However, like all marriages, the relationship between company and client is not perfect. And unfortunately, unlike human relationships, business is a one-way street: The customer is perfect, always right every time, no questions asked. The market adapts to what they want and need or it dies.
As someone who runs a business development company (BDC), I’ve found that finding the right people to hire and connecting with clients and customers are two of the major problems facing companies today. Companies can make or break just on these two aspects. For startups especially — where the focus is on innovation, creativity and adaptability — I’ve observed that the difference between the successful few and the hordes of failures often falls on the less sexy parts of running a business: personnel and customer service.
BDCs aim to solve these problems. A BDC is a partner with experience or a full-time executive officer who will guide, lead or help you out of unforeseen technical or financial issues. BDCs invest in small to mid-size businesses. BDCs are not a new concept — rather, they’re the ones that help businesses do the right thing at the right time with a twist to match each businesses needs.
Let’s say you are a hipster startup and are young, ambitious, idea-driven and business-minded. Or let’s say you are a 10-year-old company with a solid business model but haven’t adapted to a changing demand and are in a slump. The BDC is like a really good friend who hangs around your circle of friends (but not all the time) and you have great talks and a lot of fun. You don’t have to get him a present for the holidays or listen to him yap about family drama, but he always seems to be at the right functions and makes everyone have a good time — you just like having him around. This, in a sense, is how a BDC works.
BDCs already have all the tools and employees to support a startup, as well as a struggling business. A BDC could be the experienced or outside talent to correct or improve your day-to-day operation. In my experience, launching a startup or refreshing a staff with fresh blood is often the most challenging for companies. A BDC will make things easier until you correct or streamline your operation.
Let’s take personnel. You have seed money, but not enough time and resources to hire good people. But you need good people, and you need them now. Whether you’re a startup or a struggling business, a BDC will send in their manager to take a look at what you need. They will staff you up with the right pieces in place from marketing to customer service to sales and operations. Where do they come them? They come from all over the world and are good at what they do and are already screened and trained. In some cases, a BDC may provide a virtual workforce that — through e-mail, conference calls, video chat sessions and phone calls — work for the client. There’s also the opportunity to have a workforce in-house working directly alongside your team.
You want to think of the BDC as a nonpermanent solution. It should either help you start your business, complement it or help you scale your operation.
Marketing, Public Relations And Sales
OK, well how about marketing, PR and sales? A lot of companies need an online presence and help with their social media marketing, optimization and sales. BDCs specialize in knowing everything there is to know about the tricks of the trade. Catering your online presence — whether through marketing or PR that’s traditional or social media-driven — is a big headache that can lead nowhere fast and drain your reserves or can shoot your evaluation up in a heartbeat. These days there are algorithms, platforms and trend forecasting that changes by the second. BDCs are on top of every single minutia to give their clients that competitive edge over the other guy and help them better connect with customers.
The BDC is a there to complete your business with tasks or issues you cannot get to yourself. I’ve found in some cases, business owners don’t know where to spend their dollars, most times wasting it, especially on marketing with no return on investment. BDCs can have the experience and manpower that business owners don’t, and for that, they should be considered.