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During an industry panel luncheon, we heard from individuals from a variety of backgrounds on how they construct their business development strategies - here’s what we learned:

Sometimes casual is a good thing.

As an entrepreneur, growth is always top of mind. But when you set your to-do list aside and put a priority on having fun and making connections, you may be pleasantly surprised. For example, one of the panelists’ internal after-work drinks organically turned into an external weekly function that collects partners, staff, clients and potential clients. It’s now a sought-after networking event, primarily because of its casual nature. Attendees go knowing that they are going to talk to peers and have a good time, not because they’re going to be ‘sold’. The company now has a community of advocates, and it didn’t take much work at all.

Internal culture plays a bigger role than you may think.

Your employees are a reflection of your company – if they’re happy and fulfilled, your clients are happy and fulfilled. Spend time on creating a positive internal culture. The panelists were unanimous in the idea that company culture is a strategy in itself, and employee happiness is critical to growing your business. Ensure lines of communication are strong, and the same quality of information is being shared at the same time. This ensures your staff will never feel out of the loop.

Be willing to adjust your strategies on the fly.

Change is a good thing, right? When it comes to strategy, it is important to be willing to receive changing priorities from your clients. If you haven’t refreshed your strategy for growth in a few years, its probably time to scrap it and consider a new one. Its not sustainable to do the same thing over and over again – think about how much changes within just one year. Make a point to review your strategies yearly, this will ensure you are proactively changing with needs of your industry.

You’re allowed to curate your client pool.

Thank about the top ten clients you wish you had and why. The why is the most important part. You’re looking for like-minded brands who have a good reputation to boost the perception of your brand. Who says can’t you do this from the get-go? Curating your clients is important to maintaining your image. For example, one of the panelists had a client that didn’t fit with their internal culture and it was causing some serious pain points within her organization, which affected stress levels and ultimately productivity. Just as you make sure an employee is a fit with your company culture, a client should as well. Don’t be afraid to liberate your clients if they’re no longer a fit.