We have once again reached the end of another school year. Students all across the country, from Kindergarten through graduate school are preparing their final projects, papers and assignments. For many of them, it means compiling the large quantity of data and research they have been doing on any given topic and creating an analysis of their own. Those in the teaching profession refer to this in colloquial terms as the “so what?”; in other words, now that you have gathered all of this information, what does it mean? What does it matter? Perhaps those end-of-the-year school days are well behind you, but if you remember back to high school when you sat sullenly in English class and wondered when you were ever going to need to write an analysis in real life….I have an answer for the high school you: now. Moreover, it’s going to be extremely important for your business development that you do write an analysis, especially a detailed plan of action.
The final phase of business development is processing the information that you have gathered about your company, your product, your market and your position and then formulating a response. Clearly you will have goals for your business: where you would like to be versus where you currently are. But goals are only meaningful if you have developed a way of reaching them.
Be willing to spend quite a bit of time writing your action plan. Again, as with all aspects of business development, it is important to be specific and intentional. We all have a finite amount of resources, so be sure to prioritize your action plan as well. Where you are going to spend your time? Where are you going to invest your finances? What are you going to turn your attention to first? It is easy to feel as though you have to tackle every opportunity that comes your way, but you should be selective even in determining which opportunities you are interested in following up with. Is there a solid business model that the offered partnership presents, for example? Or is it simply “idea-sharing”? Not every offer is worth the investment of resources and if you have divided your efforts in too many directions you will only be harming your business in the long run. Comparison shop for suppliers, but then allow them to do their job.
Your business plan is the cumulative effect of your business development research. It tells you how you are going to get where you want to go. Think of it as your final exam.