Director of Business Development: 2012–2013
Favorite Part: Meeting many local business owners and having candid conversations about the decisions and hurdles they face.
Biggest Lesson Learned: When I first considered the Business Development Role, I was concerned I might be a poor fit for sales. I was pleased to realize that I am excellent at conversations, from which the best sales pitches are indistinguishable.
Hardest Part: Trying to maintain and improve upon on our predecessor Directors’ systems while learning how to run the firm and work as a team. It felt like taking over someone else’s start-up with no idea what the business produced and no employees.
As the Director of Business Development, I began conversations with over 30 potential clients, from which I ultimately developed 11 engagements. I evaluated each client’s fit with our educational objectives, scoped out right-sized projects, and transitioned the engagement to the client’s new team. One of my objectives as a Director was to refine the client selection criteria, as we always had more client interest than consulting capacity, so we selected partners that had time to support our teams, optimism for our efforts, and enthusiasm for hearing and implementing good solutions.
As a Consultant, I worked on a team of four to build a market segmentation and targeting strategy for a local graphic design firm. We were fully responsible for project scoping, deliverables timeline creation, and client relations.
What I Learned
I joined BR Consulting to gain experience working with a real client to tackle ambiguous problems and create solutions that yield sustainable returns. As a small business owner, I know that it is frequently difficult to identify exactly what the problem is when business slows. Through my many conversations with potential clients, I’ve learned to listen for underlying causes and push past simple explanations to explore unobserved issues. For example, I’ve helped evolve three similar sounding requests for marketing plans into three very different engagements: a customer segmentation map, a new pricing model, and, most unexpectedly, an exit strategy for a fatigued entrepreneur.
Additionally, as a Consultant, I learned a great deal about the importance of cultural fit when delivering a recommendation. Some in-class case studies suggest that businesses can be radically transformed in times of trouble. The reality of working with risk-averse business owners is quite the opposite; the tougher the storm, the stronger the urge to hunker down until it’s over. I gained valuable experience translating our ideas for improvement into bite-size pieces that could be tackled one at a time.