7 business development ideas for small enterprises

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Growth hacks

Business development can be loosely defined as any effort that leads to customer and revenue growth. Bigger businesses have entire teams and high level executives devoted to business development, but smaller businesses need to take a more agile approach.

Business development includes any activity that creates value for your company. When done well, business development goes beyond just sales or marketing efforts. The success of these efforts is often quantified in terms of new sales or the ability to keep a customer from leaving.

Given that there are no out-of-the-box rules to grow a small or medium business, the concept might seem complicated. Here are seven good ways to create business value. These ideas work for any business of any size — even those that don’t have leading brands as clients.

Business development ideas for smaller companies

Your business doesn’t need to be huge to make these strategies work for you. Smart wins the day.

  1. Offer something no one else has.
  2. Do market research.
  3. Develop an analytical mindset.
  4. Lead generation hacking.
  5. Adopt enterprise technology.
  6. Increase efficiency in operations.
  7. Last but not least, good old-fashioned marketing.

Scan through our list and choose one or two to try this year.

1. Offer something no one else has

In these times where things can change overnight, you might consider analysing your product or service market fit regularly. This is about the fundamental reason your business is in existence. In other words, the problem you solve for your customers.

Here’s how you could understand the fit:

  • Identify unspoken or unmet customer needs in your industry
  • Conceive a product or service that meets those needs
  • Create a minimum viable product
  • Roll it out, testing customer response to it
  • Continue to improve it

This means you can grow your business by meeting consumer needs that are not being satisfied at present.

2. Do market research

At first glance, this might sound like an expensive option, as research involves a decent budget. However, there are some freelance consultants who can work with smaller businesses, or you could buy off-the-shelf research reports written for your industry.

You can benefit from research findings on:

  • Your target market niche
  • Emerging or missed market opportunities
  • The industry mix of players to strategise better

As an alternative, you could use your own email database or social media accounts to research and identify potential ideas. You could experiment with this for two following quarters, selecting one idea to pursue each quarter.

3. Develop an analytical mindset

You must have an analytical mind regardless of your stage of growth, to enhance your reputation. This includes:

  • Setting measurable goals for every business development effort you undertake
  • Tracking performance numbers regularly (leads, sales, etc.)
  • Tweaking your business processes along the way (the “agile mindset”)

As you generate data, you could analyse it to detect patterns. By regularly checking your data, you can develop ideas that better meet the needs of your customers.

4. Lead generation hacking

Businesses of all sizes focus on bringing in leads because more leads often result in more customers. But there are many ways to attract leads.


Leads garnered through unique methods can generate serious business growth.

For example, a few leads could be transferred to your competitor (yes, you read it right) and vice versa. Here’s how this could work:

  • You agree to send certain leads to your competitor when the competitor is better suited to meet that particular client’s needs.
  • Your competitor agrees to do the same when your business is best suited for a particular lead.

All that’s required is for both enterprises to agree to work together to become a force multiplier.

Resulting clients from these leads could be co-serviced by both (if that makes sense). This is just one example of how going off the beaten track could increase the number of leads you turn into sales.

5. Use enterprise technology

Technology today is often the deciding factor between successful firms and all the rest.

Software like customer relationship management, business process management and even marketing tools can help you:

  • Analyse large amounts of data, sifting through for useful ideas
  • Manage lead generation, freeing you for other tasks
  • Create more effective sales campaigns

While it takes time to find, select and learn to use an app, they often save time and increase results in the long run.

6. Increase efficiency in operations

This is a business development idea that many overlook. Making your business more efficient and less wasteful is a tactic that can offer long-term benefits to the bottom line of any company.

Business Development Stack of White Paper


This idea aims to use less of the resources you have.


One example is outsourcing non-core work to experts who could deliver better and faster results. Cost-saving measures that reduce waste by employees is another example of this growth strategy.

7. Last but not least, good old-fashioned marketing

New forms of marketing have shown their potential in today’s digital-driven world, unlocking many opportunities to get the word across and promote business growth.

No longer are small businesses required to send staff physically into neighbourhoods to advertise their products or services, nor are they required to spend on expensive traditional advertising. Digital marketing allows even the smallest businesses to reach an enormous number of people quickly and efficiently.

Business development ideas for all

Small businesses must never limit themselves to the rulebook, as the term ‘growth hacking’ is a whole new philosophy in marketing. It centres around:

  • Actively looking to innovate
  • Experimenting and testing
  • Failing and refining the product/service
  • Retesting and succeeding

Business development must be approached as a continuous learning curve, with business owners rejecting the conventional way of ‘how they did it.’ Instead by using modern, data-driven approaches, they can create positive outcomes that can boost any company’s growth.

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