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Business Development for Startup Founders

Written by Neil on January 6, 2015

Business Development for Startup Founders

Another day

Another dollar……

One of the biggest challenges a startup founder can face is getting the business development going. Business development has so many different factors to it. Different founders are good at different aspects. If you don’t get the leads then the whole process breaks down and you won’t get traction.

“I’m waiting for the new leads!” – Ricky Roma, Glengarry Glen Ross  

For a startup entering business development for the first time, a business development pipeline is a great place to start.You can think of it like a guiding light for you and your team to see where all your current and future deals stand.


Your Network

When it comes to business development for startup founders , you are only as strong as your network. For example, if your startup has developed an IPhone game for Kim Kardashian and her 27+ million users , will you be able to call Kim to discuss this, or do you know someone who can make a warm introduction?


Julie knows you.

Julie knows Steve who knows Kim

You want to meet Kim

and Julie is willing to introduce you to Steve

If you don’t know Kim or anyone connected to Kim, then you are pretty much going to fail! The reality is you need someone who is one degree removed from that person you need to get in front of.

Business development

Business development covers everything you can do  to develop your business for your startup. This will include selling, marketing and developing strategies for your startup, and executing on them. The bottom line is if you can prove one of the following points, then you will be able to get traction for your startup.


Networking is also an important facet of business development. Your job is to build relationships with existing partners and create new ones. It is also important to network with individuals within your industry and maintain those connections.

There are 2 main ways of networking; going to meetups or hosting your own meetup. You need to find out who the main decision makers are or champions within the organisation so then when you do launch your product you can reach out to them.
Building a basic pipeline tool

I have created a business development tracker for Startup founders so you can track networking and sales opportunities. It was done in Google Docs because it is easier to share.

biz dev pipeline tool 2015

Please feel free to download and edit it so it reflects your needs. To make changes, simply download it to your desktop and change the filename.


I have created 6 columns and added the following headings:

Company: – The company they work for

Size of company: – Big / Medium / Small

Probability:  How likely are you to work with them – High / Low / Medium – use your intuition on this :)

Contact: – Name of main contact

Contact details: Main contact, e.g email, tel number, skype, etc.

Status – Status of the deal. A percentage to reflect on where you are on the deal


0% – No contact made or not identified anyone

10%  – You have identified the correct decision maker within the company or found someone who will champion your cause.

40% – You have an initial meeting with them to discuss your idea or you have identified the main decision maker and sent them sales details via email

60% – They said yes! They have requested a contract and you have sent it

100% – Contract is signed and terms have been agreed – deal is done!  

You can use colours to determine what stage the deal is in:

Green – Live

Orange – Pending

Red – No

You could also add social media profiles, job title, telephone numbers, value of the deal, etc.


Who should use it

Everyone in your team!  Why?

If you are a startup founder, chances you have a small team. So it is important to be constantly selling the value of your business.


Final Thoughts

As a founder of a startup, you need to develop your network which hopefully will lead to revenue down the line. Anyone who has sales gets traction and in turn, this could lead to some serious investment ($$). But to do this you need to find the decision makers when you ready to launch your product!

There are so many tools out there, but it’s probably best if you use Google Docs because its very easy and straightforward to maintain. It helps you and your team focus on the right contacts and it’s easy to share the important details. Don’t have crap leads for your team members!

I’d love it if you would share this article with your social networks. Thanks!

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