Business Development: 3 Techniques That NFP Orgs Should Steal (Part 2/2)

Business Development (BD) is an integral part of NFPs future in the new economy of sustainability. It happens at the end of the design process after you have created a new business model and an essential part to making it come to fruition. We break down the definition of BD in Part 1 of this blog and why it is essential. Though having capability and capacity for BD is a different story.

We have broken down the 3 key elements to focus on when starting out in BD territory:

Planning, planning and more planning.

Having a comprehensive action plan, one that is thought out and multi-channeled is key to a strong BD foundation. First steps to creating this action plan are as follows:

1. Map your stakeholders and segment you market, this includes your customers, beneficiaries, partners, investors.

2. Take time to workshop value propositions for each stakeholder – This will line up with having clarity of who your stakeholders are and what they want or need from you, or contrarily what they can provide to you.

3.When developing new streams of incomes and potential products and services, you need to align your new products with the stakeholders and their value propositions.

4. A way to really ensure this works is to implement a co-creation structure. Co-creation is bringing stakeholders into the process of designing, building and implementing your new product/services. Co-creation design has proven very effective.

Set up BD pipeline tool, this is an effective organisational tool that will help track progress. NFPs can add in a column related to impact to ensure your BD adding significant value to the overall mission.

Set up systems: Anything from a simple excel spread sheet to a high scale CRM systems (Sales Force). This will make life easier and enable hand overs to be smooth as the organisation grows.

Skill Up:

There are different altitudes of BD skills that one needs to have. Anything from holding a savvy conversation, to negotiating with a board to basic organisation of coordinating appointments and managing the BD pipeline. In the NFP sector you also need someone who understands the underlying complexities of the sector and can represent your brand with integrity.

If it sounds like a lot, that’s because it is and it is very rare to find this multi based skill set.

So if, mostly likely, you aren’t ideal situation of already having someone internally with all these skill sets that you can move into a BD role. There are ways around it.

Engage external support. This is useful for not only BD support but for making the transition from social sector to commercial sector a smooth one. External advisors can pave a pathway of systems and processes that can be followed easily by existing employees.

Manage culture:

There can be a resistance or push back from employees when making large changes in organisation. During this transition it is of utmost importance to ensure culture and morale stays true.

The smoothest way to do this is to be transparent, having an open communication about why you are commercialising and introducing revenue streams. Create small and incremental wins that will allow people to get used to new ways. If you engage outside advisors during this period, ensure they also understand the sensitivities surrounding the transition period.

Spark recently worked with a mental health organisation who decided to start the uncomfortable journey towards sustainability. A part of this was developing the BD component. Spark engaged in the interim to help on a commercial advisory level. We created proposals, dealt with logistics and paved the path with systems and process for existing employees to take over. This organisation has now created more reach and influence, even going international. This has subsequently created more social impact.

There has never been a more crucial time to start the journey toward sustainability and BD is one piece of the puzzle. To start, the BD process will be in small, patient steps that will eventually turn into giant leaps. These giant leaps will position you in the land of opportunity and value creation. So act short, think long and go for it!

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