You Can’t Always Get What You Want, but You Can Get What You Need with Business Development
Here are a few examples of how Cerius helped companies figure out their business development needs and the strategy they needed
It’s lonelier at the top than you realize.
Everybody needs somebody to talk to. Everybody needs a sounding board. Everybody needs an advisor. And as business owners, we know this. The reason we don’t find one is we often don’t take the time to seek out someone with the right background we can trust, or the price tag is more than the company can support.
At Cerius, we advise business owners and executives on a daily basis. We have been helping business leaders avoid costly mistakes for more than a decade from solopreneurs to Fortune 50 companies.
The biggest challenges to finding the right person is not how well their skills match your list of requirements, it is having the right requirements in the first place.
Here are a few examples of how Cerius helped companies figure out what they needed in various industries and companies of various sizes to find the strategy they needed.
“I Want to Double My Business in The Next Three Years”
When he came to us, Dave had a growing $75 million business and had an aggressive growth plan. He wanted to double his business in the next three years. He had some ideas about how to achieve that level of growth, but there were unanswered questions. Should he finance the growth through debt or equity? Should he focus on the growth expanding the geography of his current product line or expand into multiple brands?
Dave first started talking to Cerius when he knew it was time to bring on some additional leadership. He needed a CFO. Through the process, he decided to hire a full-time CFO from within his industry rather than a part-time CFO from Cerius.
Fast-forward one year later: Dave is working with Cerius to bring in a part-time executive one day a week to coach his CFO and work with Dave on the strategic areas of the company. So, what happened during that year?
Three months after Dave hired his new CFO, Cerius was launching its virtual advisory service and Dave saw it as a great fit for what he needed. He talked to two different advisors at that time. Advisor #1 had a strong background in growing companies and in financing that growth. Advisor #2 had a strong background in Dave’s industry. Dave went on to have three more sessions with each advisor. Throughout the process, he got a lot of his questions answered, a number of insights, and some next steps to work on.
A few months later, Dave was looking for a different perspective from advisors who knew his industry and scheduled a few more sessions with two different advisors. From the questions they asked and suggestions they provided, Dave realized there were some gaps with the current CFO and his ability to support the growth of the company. Dave was also frustrated with the CFO in other areas and realized he didn’t have the time to fix and manage the day-to-day execution of the growth plan. This time when he called Cerius, he was looking to hire a full-time CEO.
After a few conversations with Cerius, Dave realized adding a CEO or President wasn’t going to solve the issues and did not make sense from a cost standpoint. Instead, his Cerius talent expert took some intermediary steps that were less risky and costly. Dave’s talent expert set up the interviews and helped him find the right mix of background, personality, and approach to both work with his CFO and advise Dave for the next few months.
This part-time engagement is currently in-progress and off to a good start. Dave is wisely building his leadership team and company in a staged approach, bringing in the right talent and advice as needed.
“We Want to Hire a Contract Business Development Executive to Get Us More Business”
Outsourcing business development is always an option. Cerius has worked with a number of clients who have used this strategy. Through our experiences, we have seen what does and does not work.
We were referred to a company who was looking for a contract business development professional to make some introductions and help the company get more business. The stated primary requirement was that the executive have deep contacts in each of the company’s verticals and be able to make quick introductions. In our experience, having the contacts and rolodex is the least of the requirements for a successful business development professional. So we spent some time talking to the company leadership to understand how their infrastructure would make this strategy successful.
The challenge with this approach is that the company would spend $60k-100k+ before they knew whether it was the right decision. Based on the company’s responses, there was concern with the company having the resources in place to support and capitalize on the introductions.
Cerius connected the company with a business development advisor who was familiar with their industry and their verticals. He did have the connections to make the needed introductions. By the end of the first conversation, the advisor came to the same conclusion the Cerius talent expert did; the company would be taking on more risk than needed with a large investment if they were to bring in a contract business development professional at this point.
Instead, Cerius recommended starting off with the business development professional on an advisory basis. The professional’s charge was to identify gaps in the company’s infrastructure and messaging so they could be closed to better leverage and support business development introductions.
For a total investment of $675, the company will gain a better idea of what they need to put in place and the guidance to avoid common pitfalls. Once they know exactly what is needed, it will be quicker and less costly to close those gaps before making a bigger investment.
In the end, if the company leadership still decides they need a contract business development executive, there will be more clarity on what is needed, expectations, goals, measurements, and the infrastructure and support to help the executive be successful.
“I Am a Serial Entrepreneur with a Few Businesses Already. I’m Starting a New One…”
We have been working with a successful entrepreneur, Don, who is looking to leverage his industry expertise and patents into a new business. Since he has traditionally been in a service business, building product and supply chain is very new to him.
When Don was first referred to our advisory service, he was looking for a team of advisors to put on his pitch deck to impress investors. He had the investor contacts, but was being told he didn’t have the leadership team he needed to build a company.
The process was going to be challenging for Don, who’d had a number of bad experiences with consultants and hiring leadership. So, he was very hesitant. It especially bothered Don that about half of his investor proforma was going to pay for leadership compensation—a source of headaches in the past. He knew there had to be a better way.
Don had several conversations with Cerius. We provided some advisor recommendations based on what he felt he needed to start the company. After a few initial discussions, Don could more clearly see what pieces needed to be in place before he continued with investor pitches. Don started with an advisor who had spent much of his career raising capital and growing companies. Don is working with him to refine his pitch deck and put necessary pieces in place to secure the investors who are currently interested.
Don’ new plan is to initially work with executives on an advisory basis. As he has the need for more than advice, he will have a full understanding and trust level for what advisors can accomplish hands-on in his organization. He will have confidence that he can bring them on for a project or on a part-time basis. He knows his leadership and expertise is going to vary greatly while he builds his company and is relieved that he can get it in stages, as needed.