I’ve grown three successful businesses in the last decade. A large part of my success is down to planning. This is certainly the case with Launch Space, where I offer SaaS consulting services.
Having a business development plan has helped me avoid a lot of silly rookie mistakes. It also kept me focused, which is important for business owners. In this guide, you will learn how to create an actionable business development plan you can apply to your business.
1. Analyze The Competition
Every great business plan is based on research. Well, most great plans are based on research. Ice cream at midnight is rarely planned, but it’s pretty great 😀
The first thing I do when creating a business development strategy is to review the company and consider the target market. You need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your company. It’s important to also review your competition, customer (creating a customer persona is handy), and review market trends.
Let me use Launch Space as my example. During my review of the competitive landscape for this business, I discovered some of the following:
- There are only a few agencies that provide specialized services for SaaS firms. Most agencies don’t have a clear target audience.
- Most SEO agencies lock clients into a 6 or 12-month contract. A long contract is a big commitment for a company. For example, $4k a month is a $48k contract.
- Many clients don’t see a return on investment from working with an agency. Trust in the agency is a big issue for clients.
- Most SEO agencies don’t promote their services through guest posting on authority sites.
You will gain many useful insights by researching your niche before you make a plan. The research is a chance to test your assumptions, and gain insights.
2. Identify Your Business Opportunities
At the end of the research phase of your business development plan, you need to review the information you gathered about your company, the target market, and your customer base. Spend time analyzing all the data. You will use these insights to create your business development plan.
For Launch Space, my goal was to find ways to do things that are disruptive and help me stand out. I created a table. On one side I listed my insights. On the other side, I listed the opportunities for my business.
|Insights||Opportunities for Disruption|
|Lots of Competition||Niche down to SaaS|
|Clients are locked into contracts||Skip the contract|
|Fixed monthly fee||Only charge for what I deliver|
|Skeptical clients||Offer a free trial period|
|Agencies don’t do SEO||Write a lot of guest posts|
Your research helps you understand the market. You can then use those insights to identify business opportunities and define your competitive advantages.
For example, through my research, I learned that one of the biggest issues agencies have is trust. They naturally don’t trust an agency they have never met. Skipping a contract would allow me to differentiate myself from the competition. In fact, I made the fact you don’t need to sign a contract key part of my sales copy. You can see this on the homepage I created with a landing page builder.
When I made my business plan, I didn’t have a company. If I had a company with lots of customers, I’d still do the same type of research. However, I’d spend more time reviewing company operations. I’d look at what are the main drivers of growth for the company. I’d also consider what are the company’s biggest problems.
3. How to Set Your Business Development Goals
The next stage of business development is to set targets. Your targets help you understand what you want to achieve and measure your success. You should make sure your goals are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time Based.
When I created my business plan for Launch Space, I set a single company goal. The goal was ambitious and easy to understand.
I then created sub-goals for the different parts of your business. So for example, for my website, I started with the following goal.
- Generate $10k in monthly recurring revenue
That’s a pretty easy goal to understand. I then thought about how to achieve that target. My sub-goals look like this.
- Sales Goal: Secure 1 new client each month from cold outreach
- Delivery: Every two months get 1 client to increase their order
- Human Resources: Hire 1 full-time member of staff
I then looked at the things I would need to do to achieve each sub-goal.
For example, if I was to get one new client a month I would need to meet with five potential clients. I estimated that to secure those meetings I would need to cold email 200 businesses a week. Those were my activities for that goal.
Those activities are quantifiable. I can tell you if I sent 200 emails in a month. Businesses like Google have these sorts of systems in place to measure targets. It helps keep people accountable and provides management with a way to check progress.
Setting my goals helped me develop a strategic plan. That company target is the common goal. You can use this goal to align the operations of your sales team, operations team, and marketing team.
4. Create Standard Operating Procedures
After you have finished strategizing you need to implement your business development goals. There are too many variables in place for me to provide you with many useful insights for this part of the process.
However, there is one business development tip I can share…
As you work on tasks, create Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). Standard Operating Procedures are a set of rules for how the company operates.
Your SOP should build on your business development plan. For example, I have created a whole set of SOP for sales outreach.
I started by setting sales targets for the company with SMART goals. I then looked at how I’d achieve those goals. Then, I tested my approach. Once I found a system that worked, I broke the job down into chunks.
I listed out all of the things I needed to do to complete the task. I then gave this information to an employee. They did the work.
Systemizing your business in this way has multiple benefits. It helps you:
- Reduce the amount of time it takes to complete a task
- Keep information when a person leaves the company, which speeds up the transition
- Ensure vital tasks get completed every month
Keep in mind that your business strategy is not fixed. As a business developer, make sure to periodically review your business development strategy. Analyze what is working and what is not, then adapt your strategy.
5. Review Your Progress
The final stage of your business development strategy is the review stage. This is where you put a date in the diary and say, “in three months’ time we should be…”
Then, you can review progress against your goals.
The purpose of these reviews is to see how you’ve done against your business goals. Just as importantly, a review is a chance to adjust your business plan to make sure that it aligns with what you’re trying to accomplish.
You can incorporate things like a SWOT analysis in your quarterly or annual review. Periodic reviews help you assess your progress, identify weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
During a review, you should assess the validity of your business goals. Make sure they are still relevant to your company. If they are, great. If not, change your business development goals.
Look at the activities in your business that make the most money. For example, at Launch Space I’m making around:
- SEO Consulting work = $20k+
- Private training = $3k
- Affiliate marketing = $0.5k
It’s easy to see what makes the company the most money.
I then look at how I can maximize growth through my SEO consulting work over a quarter. Periodic reviews help me ensure my business development strategy aligns with the drivers of company growth.
You should also review the problems the company is facing. For example, as Launch Space grows I often find myself spending a lot of time doing a job that doesn’t help the company scale.
I don’t want to get stuck managing the day-to-day tasks that don’t add value to my business. It’s a pain point.
When I get stuck in a task, I try to find a way to free up my time. Normally that involves, creating SOP and then outsourcing the work.
In this guide, I provided you with an example of my business development strategy. I showed you how I put together a business strategy that allowed me to scale a marketing agency from a side hustle to a six-figure business in less than 12 months.
I hope you’ve found this article interesting. If you have any questions, hit me up in the comments below.