How Big Companies Think

You probably know that inside your skull there is a brain divided into two halves, a right brain and a left brain, that collectively control the way you think, react, and behave.

Similarly, decisions at Big Companies are a team effort, the result of a shared opinion between two forces that guide a company’s thinking: the Organizational Mind and the Individual Mind.

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You Solve a Person’s Problems, Not a Company’s Problems

I had coffee with a smart entrepreneur today, and he said something that struck me. He said: “We had a great meeting with Microsoft.”

It’s a line we all utter so naturally, but when you think about it, that’s kind of a strange statement. We often tell others and ourselves that “I’m meeting with Big Company” without stopping to consider the obvious: that we do not have meetings with Big Companies.

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How I Built a Career in Business Development

I’m often asked questions like “what steps should I take to build a career in business development?” and my first instinct is to relay parts of my personal career story. It’s my feeble attempt to provide a thoughtful, structured answer for how they can do the same thing.

I’ve spent over 10 years working in all facets of partnerships, but labeling myself a “business development” guy is a relatively recent phenomenon. Here’s the story of my winding road to a career that I’ve loved.

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Wouldn’t It Be Cool If

Perhaps the 5 most dangerous words one can ask in the early stages of Business Development are “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?”
Wouldn’t it be cool if we integrated our waffle toppings recommendation engine into Google Maps, so you could always find the nearest bottle of maple syrup?

All too frequently we see the results of partnerships (or attempts at forging partnerships) that are borne from this seemingly innocent question: they fail. No product or partnership can last (if it gets off the ground at all) for long without a well-defined source of value for your customers, your partners, and your own company. Pursuing on an opportunity whose value is rooted only in the sexiness of the idea is a recipe for wasted time that no startup can afford.

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Full Stack Business Development

In the language of technology, a “Full Stack Developer” is someone who understands how to code every level of a computer: from the fundamentals of server processes to backend programming to database architecture and front-end design. They’re among the most valued members of an organization, able to translate between the layers of a system. A Full Stack Developer can be your best resource whether you’re planning for top-notch performance, diagnosing a tricky situation that’s eluded your best specialists, or are just quickly hacking your way to an MVP.
Allow me to introduce the idea of a similar unicorn: the “Full Stack Business Development” person. Read More…

Why Deals Die

Marriage is hard. Half of marriages end in divorce, so say the oft-quoted statistics, and keeping committed to a relationship over a lifetime of bumps in the road is no simple task.
Just like a marriage, the road to a successful partnership is a long, hard, and winding one that requires attention, energy, and effort to maintain. The voyage can be treacherous, so avoiding the potholes in the partnership road requires a good map, a keen awareness of the obstacles on the path, and a steadfast focus on reaching your destination.

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Choose Your Own Biz Dev Adventure

When I was a kid, I loved Choose Your Own Adventure books. Do you hike up the mountain or take the shortcut through the cave? Every page had a decision to make, and every decision had a consequence that impacted how the story played out.
In Business Development as with those books, every decision you make about how to pursue an opportunity to create long-term value will determine the fate of your journey. Do you train your sales force to sell a new product, or do you find a distribution partner to take it to market? Every decision has a consequence.

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The Value Hypothesis

Every time you propose a partnership with another company, you are making a guess as to why they’d want to work with you. According to the Grand Unified Theory of Business Development, business development is fundamentally focused on creating long term value. But whose value are you taking into consideration?
When two companies are evaluating an opportunity to work together, each is weighing the relative value of the same deal from their own unique perspective. While you approach a company with an understanding of the value that they can bring to you and your organization, they are making the same judgement what  you  can bring to  them  – and will decide accordingly on how to proceed.

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