Feast or Famine: A Business Development Story

If you’re a Founder/CEO/Chief Cook & Bottle Washer of a small to medium sized company, you know that filling the pipeline with new business opportunities is no easy task. Unless you have the resources for the job, it comes down to a feast or famine proposition. It’s tough to be both the doer and the seller, needing to be constantly shifting attention and priorities.

To illustrate: I know of a highly successful manufacturing firm who grew organically and steadily to 25 employees. The two partners were both doers and sellers. They got extremely busy for 3-6 months with demanding clients and then because they were not focused on their business development efforts, they frequently suffered from famine between projects. This was particularly difficult because busy or not they had to cover their overhead.

Both partners had different and natural skill sets. Partner A was great at managing the business and running operations. Partner B was a natural outside man very comfortable with networking and business development. Partner B approached Partner A and proposed an inside/outside division of labor to grow the company further.

After much discussion, it was agreed to divide tasks. Partner A and B were now doing what they love and they were doing better than ever before, greatly improving business development efforts. There is a saying, “Dig your well before you’re thirsty” — this is a practical application of it in business.

The company took off and more than tripled in size. Being the Founder/CEO/Chief Cook & Bottle Washer sounds impressive but it is often not the best way to grow. Even though you think you can do it all, it doesn’t mean you can do it all well.

When it comes to business development, find the best talent inside or outside your company to do it consistently and do it well. You’ll be happy and your employees will thank you for it.