Why Choose a Career in Business Development?

Back in the early the 2000s I decided to throw myself into the industry and cut my teeth in the world of new business. At first, I didn’t expect a lot. I had done a college job in a call centre and imagined it would be more of the same. However, it seemed a good route into the industry and the opportunity to learn at the coal face what it was all about. And it paid, with potential for a good salary, as long as you delivered…

I soon realised there was a lot more to the world of new business. I was lucky to have a great boss who gave me the opportunity to take on responsibility and encouraged me to think creatively and try new ways of doing things. I worked across a wide range of clients and speaking to lots of different sectors and decision makers really accelerates your understanding, experience and industry knowledge.

Within my first few months I helped a client win a project with Coca-Cola, after securing a meeting with their President of UK & Ireland. Now that was a buzz. And whilst my client had done it all and been behind famous advertising campaigns such as Nike ‘Kick It’ and ‘You know when you’ve been Tangoed’, they were just as excited about it.

After a few big wins, you soon realise that new business is a great way to get attention and stand out in a very competitive industry. For agencies, there is nothing quite as exciting as a high profile pitch, or as important as a healthy pipeline and new client wins.

Nearly 20 years later, I’m still working in business development, continuing to learn and set new targets. From research, developing your own tech stack, to content writing and recording podcasts, to building relationships, running events and pitching, the role can be very varied. As marketing, PR, digital, technology and business development all converge there are fantastic new opportunities opening up. And if all else fails, you now have LinkedIn, giving you 24 hour access to all your top prospects!

Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of working with so many great agencies (and great people) and enjoyed helping them win exciting new clients. This included a number of what I describe as agency defining wins, an account that changed the direction of an agency, helped it to step up to the next level, or was just worth a lot of money. Whilst never doing any of the actual ‘work’, you always feel a sense of pride knowing that a client account was initially down to you.

I have employed and worked with many brilliant business developers. Some I’m lucky to still work with, whilst others have gone on to take on senior roles at high profile agencies across the world, or run their own agencies. Business Development attracts ambitious and target driven people who want to progress. It’s important to embrace this when hiring for business development roles and make sure there is the opportunity for progression and success is celebrated. 

Whilst many companies understand the importance of new business, I’ve often found business developers and new business professionals to be under represented and under recognised within our industry. This led me to co-found The BD100 in 2018 with Richard McHardy to shine the spotlight on the best in the business – of business development, as well as encouraging collaboration and support across the business development community.

Click here to find out more about The BD100 and how you can get involved.

It takes a certain type of person to do business development. With the right direction and experience, they can really be the driving force behind a business. The required skill set, attributes and mindset needed for success in Business Development provide a great foundation for future business leaders.

The real secret to success in business development is the ability to spot an opportunity and most importantly, do something about it. If that sounds like you, then there is no limit to what you can achieve.

Nominations for The BD100 are now open!

We know many of the business development community have gone above and beyond this year to help steer agencies through these difficult times and this provides a great opportunity to show how much this is valued. If you know someone in business development who deserves to be on the list you can nominate them here.

The BD100 has simplified the process this year. Once nominations have closed on 31st October, there will be a judging panel who will select the top 100, as well as the Business Developer of the Year and Rising Star awards.

Watch out for more announcements over the coming weeks and be sure to join The BD100 for a virtual awards ceremony that celebrates all things new business as part of the Winning Together online conference taking place on 26th November 2020.