The 3 Best Business Development Tools For Long-Term Growth

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With all the current uncertainty in our world, entrepreneurs everywhere are feeling anxious, nervous, and worried about the future. For most of us, business development and long-term growth aren’t top of mind. But whether we like it or not, hardship is a part of life—and we need to learn how to deal with these hard times in productive ways, within both our business and our personal lives.

Regardless of what’s going on in the world, we always need to be focusing on business development and long-term growth—it’s what separates successful entrepreneurs from unsuccessful ones.

That’s why I’ve recently developed a number of business development tools for long-term growth. With social distancing—or physical distancing, as I prefer to call it—and things slowing down around the world, this is actually a perfect time to focus on business development and growth. We can take this time to learn, focus on projects we normally don’t have time for, and figure out what’s currently working in our businesses.

If you know me, you know I’ve made a lot of business development tools over the years. But I believe these three tools are particularly relevant right now. If you feel like your growth has ground to a halt during these uncertain times, the following business development tools are for you.

Tool #1: “Hard Now/Easy Later”

“This is hard now, but it’s going to be easy later.”

Chances are, you’ve either heard this phrase before or uttered it yourself. As entrepreneurs, we’ve all gone through hard times to make life easier down the road. This simple phrase allows us to find meaning in our struggles and stay confident, knowing that all the hard times we’ve gone through will be worth it in the end.

In fact, you could argue that the phrase “business development” itself comes down to doing hard things to make your business easier in the future.

The “Hard Now/Easy Later” business development tool is a simple way to not only retain your sense of purpose during these uncertain times, but come out the other side stronger than you were before. It will help you learn how to deal with hard times in productive ways, using them as fuel for growth.

It works like this:

  1. Identify three things about the current situation that have made your life difficult, personally or professionally.
  2. Explain why it’s made things difficult.
  3. Identify what these present hardships will make easier in the future.
  4. Explain why they will be easier.
  5. Based on these experiences, develop three new rules you’d like to put in place moving forward.

The last step in this exercise makes this a highly-functional business development tool. These rules will not only help you through this current time of crisis, but will allow for improved business development and growth during normal times as well as future periods of uncertainty.

When I filled this out myself, one of the first things that hit me was the fact that we were going to have to cancel many of our in-person workshops due to COVID-19. This was particularly troubling as 2019 was our best year ever, and 2020 was clearly shaping up to be far better, as we planned on rolling out some new business development concepts.

But what I’ve come to realize through this exercise is that this is an amazing business development opportunity for us. This “forced” expansion of our overall teamwork and move to virtual workshops will add a whole new revenue sector for us. It should result in massive growth for 2021.

So just by completing this simple exercise, I was able to shift my thinking and realize that this one circumstance that appears to be crippling to our business is actually an opportunity for business development and long-term growth far into the future. Thanks to these circumstances, we’re going to make business development and technology breakthroughs that would have taken us five years or more in the “old normal.”


We might be going through some scary times, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be successful in everything you do! Our Tools And Worksheets page was created specifically to help entrepreneurs navigate times like these. Download these tools and more here.


Tool #2: “The Back Burner Breakthrough”

This is one of my favorite business development tools for long-term growth because it’s applicable in scary times, normal times, and everywhere in between. If you feel like you’re not seeing the level of business development or growth that you’d like, this tool will help get you there. (And it works just as well for your personal life too.)

This tool focuses on all the things we have sitting on the back burner, both in our businesses and personal lives. In the “old normal,” we were so busy jumping from one new project to the next that our “back burner” was constantly filled … with untapped potential and growth opportunities!

This is a great business development tool for long-term growth because if you just run through this simple exercise once a year or every few years, you’ll be able to ensure you’re not passing up those growth opportunities that have been sitting on your back burner. There might be some massive opportunities back there, or there might not—but you’ll never know unless you take a look! (And now is the perfect time to do so.)

Here’s how to use this simple business development tool:

  1. Take two minutes to make a list of all your back burner items, both personal and professional.
  2. Choose one you’d like to move from the back of your mind to the forefront of your focus.
  3. Create an Impact Filter to sell yourself (and others) on the project.
  • Why is this important to achieve?
  • What would be the best results—and the worst?
  • What are the success criteria?
  • Set a deadline. When will you have this finished by?
  • Repeat as often as you’d like!

Business development requires you to reflect, learn, and grow. This tool can help you do all of that while realizing the untapped growth potential that’s sitting on your back burner. Plus, it’s repeatable over and over again. If you’re truly interested in business development for long-term growth, this is a big one.

Tool #3: “Keepers: Old, Scary, & New”

In times like these, our brains often hyperfocus on what’s going wrong. That’s why most people couldn’t care less about business development right now—there are a million things going wrong in the world, so why focus on that?

Well, there are also a lot of things going right at the moment. You have things in your business and life that are working better than ever. Real business development is all about figuring out what’s working versus what isn’t, and the first step in that is recognizing what’s working.

This business development tool helps us do exactly that. By recognizing what’s working, we can continue our business development and growth despite all the things that are seemingly going wrong around us.

“Keepers: Old Scary, & New” focuses on the foundational skills we already have. Whether you realize it or not, you’ve already got plenty of skills from the “old normal” that have prepared you for this moment, are keeping you stable right now, and will allow you to come out of this situation stronger than ever. Those skills will be vital for business development and long-term growth.

Here’s how it works:

  1. The first three columns—Old Normal, Scary Times, and New Normal—represent three distinct time zones. In the first, Old Normal, you’ll identify three capabilities worth keeping from your previous way of doing business.
  2. In the second time zone, Scary Times, you’ll identify three new capabilities that have emerged during this period that are worth keeping moving forward.
  3. In the third time zone, New Normal, you’ll outline three new things that will be great “keepers” when the new normal period starts.
  4. For each capability, you’ll also reflect on why it’s such a valuable asset and how keeping it will assist your future success and growth.

This is an amazing exercise for business development because it can help you weather any change in the world, in your life, or in your business. It will show you that times of change are actually a great time to reflect, learn, and grow, and often the best time to focus on business development.

It also shows something that may feel counterintuitive at first, but is incredibly valuable to understand. When most people think of business development, their minds immediately go to learning new concepts and implementing them in their businesses. But we often forget that we already have incredibly useful skills that can help us grow our businesses—it’s just a matter of stepping back, recognizing them, and understanding how to best utilize them. This exercise will help you do exactly that.

 

 

About the Author

Dan Sullivan

Dan Sullivan is the world’s foremost expert on entrepreneurship in action. He is the founder of The Strategic Coach Inc. and creator of The Strategic Coach® Program. Visionary, creative, wise, playful, and generous, he is a true champion of entrepreneurs worldwide.

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