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What is Business Development? Why is it so Sought After?

How is a career in Business Development different from a career in Sales, Marketing or Management, when all of them aim at handling different tiers of business and further enhancing growth? The exterior of Business Development indeed seems a lot like a combination of Marketing, Operations, and Management. This is so because Business Development professionals can do a variety of tasks in their professional career, which can include Client Services, Sales and Operations, targeting new clients and business opportunities, and business planning. In general, Business Development actually focuses on all the aspects of a business that can be directed or improved for promoting their business.

The core function of the Business Development is to find new ways to enhance the prospect of their business, by remodelling or rearranging the business forces and uniting them into one comprehensive unit. Now, to do this, there are a lot of base areas that the Business Developers have to create to be able to increase the horsepower of their business. First step for Business Development is to increase the asset base for the company. This means not only increasing the asset portfolio value but also increasing the emotional appeal, i.e. branding, of the business. These assets help in achieving business longevity. Next is taking care of the Market, and in the same order, the Customers. This also includes spotting new business opportunities and pursuing them.

Business Developers chain all of these factors together and help the business thrive. Therefore, a career in Business Development is a combination of Sales and Marketing, Planning and Strategy along with analysis and negotiation. On a regular day, a Business Developer will have his eyes open wide, rounded by all the industrial updates and keep his notes fresh with the trends followed by the competitors.

Qualification Needed for a Career in Business Development
There are several ways of cracking open the door of a career in Business Development. This is so because the career track of Business Development can converge from Sales, Marketing, PR, Finance, Strategic Management or other related fields. A lot of folks walk into Business Development after they have gained some experience in the above mentioned fields and then slowly work their way towards other necessary requirements of Business Development. But still, the basic requirement of the wisdom of business is crucial and a degree in business makes crust of a Business Developer. Even people from a Technical background, Advertising and Communication can enter the field of business development, provided they later acquire a business degree like an MBA or an MS in Business. In fact, some of the big firms particularly seek candidates with technical background, paired with a degree in business.

Another advantage about going to a business school would be the opportunity of creating contacts and increasing your network density. These contacts might come handy in the social business field like Business Development.

Skills Needed for a Career in Business Development
To develop business, it becomes mandatory for the aspiring Business Developers to have a detailed insight about business operations, along with an inclination to further develop this business acumen. After this is taken care of, Business Developers need to build on their research skills. Research skills are needed for Business Developers to get to know their way in the market and gather comparative data. Next on the list is the skill of analytics. Once one has all the Business knowledge and the data handy, it is important for Business Developers to surf and analyze these facts and figures in accordance to their business needs. For this, Business Developers would also need strong quantitative skills.

Next is Communication skills, which greatly complements any profession. As Business Developers, you would need to present your ideas to the team, write reports, close deals, negotiate with the vendors – all of which would require extraordinary communication and people skills at hand. Another skill that Business Developers need is street smartness and presence of mind. It is not always easy to spot new business opportunities; and even when they are spotted, the task of catching them by rein is no cake walk.

Hierarchy in Business Development Career Path
The career in progression of Business Development is all based on the hard work one puts in actually developing a business. One could start from Sales, with a focus on Business-to-Business, and prove capable to handle the activity, which is really at the base of the Business Development domain. Candidates from Sales background also have an advantage being comfortable with accounts, which is useful for pitching sales in Business Development. Next is the position of a Business Developer. As said before, Business acumen is mandatory for this transition. There would be a lot of negotiating, filing and convincing involved in business development activities, and this requires utmost awareness about the business day-to-day.

Business Developers that do well get promoted to the position of Strategic Planner. To reach here, it takes an average of about 6-7 years as a Business Developer. Strategic Planners, also called Corporate Developers, make strategies about developing the business. A lot like Brand Managers of Management Consultants, Strategic Planners chalk out big ideas and goals for their business, owing to their considerable experience as Business Developer. Under them, they have a passionate lot of Business Developers trying to put these ‘Big Plans’ for the company in action.

Pros of a Career in Business Development
As stated earlier, an individual from Sales, Marketing, or even technical background can make a career in Business Development. This becomes the biggest advantage of this profession. Analyzing the business challenges after studying the market scenario and arriving at efficient solutions over the years helps one acquire proficiency in dealing with tough business situations and building his business acumen.

Pay wise, it could turn out to be a highly rewarding field as one takes on higher positions in the organization due to the abundant amount of business knowledge acquired over the years. Also, many organizations have a commission-based pay package, which removes any upper limit from the pay, making it a lucrative opportunity for most.

Cons of a Career in Business Development
The cool sounding position of a Biz Dev, as it is often called informally, might not always be pleasant. With higher pay comes greater responsibility and accountability to deliver and reach the set goals. This pressure to perform leads to stress. Stress is even strongly at play when there is customer interaction to be maintained.

Expanding the company’s business and looking out for opportunities to liaise with clients from across the globe often results in frequent business trips. In the long run, frequent travel to various countries and adjusting your body to jet lags might take a toll on one’s health.

Who is a Career in Business Development Good for?
If you are an avid risk taker, ready to take on challenges, a people’s person, and at the same time a smart business trend observer, you are a right fit for the job. However, you need to arm yourself with exceptional analytical skills and build your business acumen in order to make a long term career in this profession. But then, sky is the limit!

Best Companies for a Career in Business Development

  • Apollo Investment Corporation
  • Ares Capital Corporation
  • Black Rock Kelso Capital Corporation
  • Capital SouthWest Corporation
  • Fifth Street Finance Corporation
  • Gladstone Capital Corporation
  • Gladstone Investment Corporation
  • Hercules Technology Growth Capital Inc.
  • Kayne Anderson Energy Development Co.
  • Kohlberg Capital Corporation