Tony-MonteleoneMost startups don’t have a salesperson as a founder. They might be tradespeople or former managers or just entrepreneurs with great ideas. And whatever you know about business development from your former place of employment, you can forget about it as a startup. They’re entirely different animals, and you need to relearn your game.

This series of posts, Startup + Business Development, is going to focus on building your business development goals as a startup, focusing on the entire business.

The best place to start is to understand the major differences between business development as an established business versus that as a startup.

Established Business

There are a lot of perks to developing business after you’re well established. Here are a few:

  • Salespeople: After your company has been around the block for a while, you can start relying on salespeople to make your sales for you. They can learn all about the business, pound the pavement, make all the cold calls, filter through the leads, and generally do what salespeople do to make sales.
  • Customer Base: The odds are, if you’ve lasted this long, you have an established customer base that helps you keep the lights on. All you have to do is ensure they’re happy. Those really good customers may even pass you along to their colleagues via referral, making sales even easier to close.
  • Brand Awareness: With your customer base, you’ll also have more brand awareness. People in your industry will know what to expect when they hear your company’s name or see your company’s logo. Making a sale can be easier when you have history on your side.


Startups, on the other hand, require an entirely different strategy. Not only will you be competing with established businesses in the industry, but you’re also working with less. But it’s David vs. Goliath, and you can become successful if you know what you’re aiming for.

  • Taking a Chance: You’re going to have to look around for different kinds of customers. They won’t come flocking to you, most likely, and you’ll have to work to build the following that an established business will have. You just may have to find a customer or two willing to take a chance on your product. Make sure you make yourself familiar with the Adoption/Innovation Curve.
  • Alternative Methods: Established businesses may be less likely to adopt new sales methods, because what they have works. Startups need to utilize every potential sales method they can. That includes social media, as well as the other, more traditional paths.
  • Learning Sales: As most startups either won’t have a salesperson as a founder or can’t afford to hire one initially, someone will need to man the ship, and that person is more often than not the founder. It’s going to mean odd hours, a lot of dejection, and networking with more people in the industry than you knew existed. Make sure you find the right mentor to help you navigate through this.

In future posts, we’ll explore the different ways startups can fire up their business development. When you’re really dedicated to your idea, you’ll find that many of the techniques and tips will eventually become second nature, and your business will be growing in no time.

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