Business development for startups: A quick guide


An introduction to business development, why your startup needs it, and how to create a business development strategy that works.

If you want your business to grow and be successful, you need business development. Business development can be quite broad, as it involves a wide range of responsibilities. And while you probably won’t have a dedicated department in your startup, you can still improve sales with a good strategy. 

In fact, 71% of fast-growing companies have some sort of business development plan in place. So, let’s explore how you can create yours.

What is business development?

Business development focuses on discovering and creating opportunities that directly lead to new sales. It’s all about increasing growth and boosting revenue, and includes things like identifying and nurturing potential customers, building brand awareness, establishing new partnerships, and expanding into different markets.

Why your startup needs business development

Startups need to grow rapidly to survive and flourish. And business development offers one of the most effective paths to achieve this growth. By pursuing new business opportunities, startups can attract fresh customers and revenue, leading to increased scalability and success.

By putting a business development strategy in place during the early stages of your startup, you’re setting a clear path for expanding your customer base, increasing sales, and establishing a solid foundation for future growth.

Plus, you can keep referring back to your business development plan and regularly review your sales cycle to optimize its effectiveness.

How to create a business development plan for startups

Your business development game plan will differ depending on your startup’s unique circumstances, but there are three basic steps to forming a strategy.  

Step 1: Establish what you want to achieve, and when

Before you do anything, you need to set clear goals and define responsibilities. Ask yourself what you want your business to achieve, and in what timeframe. Once you’ve got your key milestones and performance indicators down, you can then assign each part of the process to the right team.

Step 2: Do your research

An unbeatable business development strategy requires thorough research. Dive deep into your market, analysing your competitors and potential clients inside out.

Take a peek at How to find your target audience and our Beginner’s guide to competitor analysis to get you started. 

Step 3: Start generating leads

To achieve business development success, you need a well-rounded plan with diverse marketing strategies to proactively connect with potential clients. And outbound marketing will be the heart of it all.

5 outbound business development strategies

1. Email prospecting

Email prospecting is a fantastic way to reach your target market. Sopro found that 77% of B2B marketing decision-makers prefer communication via email, making it the top channel for getting your brand in front of the right people.

But, prospecting can be time-consuming and inefficient without specialized software and expertise. That’s where Outbase comes in – our gorgeous platform makes finding and engaging with your ideal customers a breeze, freeing up your time and resources to focus on growing your business. See how it works

2. Networking

Networking events come in all shapes and sizes, and offer a unique advantage of face-to-face interactions. If you’re on the outgoing side of the personality spectrum, they’re a great opportunity to find like-minded founders and make personal connections.

Try joining your local chamber of commerce – most offer a plethora of in-person events such as coffee mornings and breakfast meetings. They can also arrange introductions to specific members if you’ve got your eye on a particular potential client.  

3. Trade events

Up to 81% of B2B event attendees are decision-makers with buying authority. That’s huge! And a big reason why events can be such a valuable addition to your business development strategy. So whether you’re exhibiting or just attending, make events part of your business development plan. 

4. Partnering

Collaborate, don’t compete! Teaming up with businesses that align with your startup’s vision and mission can help you enter the market faster, share costs, and learn from others’ experiences. Buddying with a more established brand also adds credibility, and lets you tap into resources that you might not have had access to otherwise.

5. Retention

Repeat after us: “customer retention is vital for a successful business.” It’s not just about ringing the sales gong and getting new customers through the door. You need to provide outstanding customer service from beginning to end. 

Make retention a priority, because it’s not enough to simply keep clients; you want to turn them into loyal, repeat buyers, who want to sing your praises at any opportunity.

Next-level business development with Outbase

Outbase’s smart and easy-to-use platform is designed to help you find new customers quickly and easily. With access to our extensive database of businesses and advanced filtering options, you can zero in on your ideal audience and start engaging with them in just a few clicks. 

Outbase runs in the background while you focus on developing your business. Try it for free today – your first campaign could be live in just five minutes!

Written by:
Colette Hagan-Young Content Writer