How Do You Transition from Product to Business Development? Three Thoughts

Interview with Trevor Shanski, Founder, eWORDofMOUTH, Inc.

Situation: A company with a new lead generation solution is ahead of the curve for their market segment, and ready to transition from a product development focus to a full-scale business development focus. This means developing new capabilities on a limited budget. How have you made the transition from product development to business development?

Advice from Trevor Shanski:

  • The reality of early stage companies is that they live on scarce resources. Founders and early executives have to be able to work for lean base salaries during the learning curve. They will be individuals who have selective characteristics.
    • They will be able to accept conservative salaries near-term, as well as during financial bumps in the road. Their focus will be growing the company’s value and their incentive will be having a material stake in the company.
    • They will have limited outside demands on their time and attention so that they can work long hours.
    • They will appreciate the challenge of heavily performance-based compensation, with the potential to win big if they can deliver.
    • They will have a network of connections and relationships upon whom they can call to gain early business traction.
  • Characteristics for successful early stage executives include the ability to work intimately with the founding team. Early stage companies are idea and capability incubators where things change quickly. Players must be able to get the job done with little support.
  • It is critical to have a clearly defined set of expectations for the first few months as you bring on new executives. Early foci will include:
    • Immersion in understanding the product capability and possibilities.
    • Sitting down with a white board and openly looking at fresh thoughts for how the market should be approached. Founders frequently suffer from tunnel vision after a long period of development and need a fresh outside perspective on the market and messaging. What partnerships could accelerate market development? What knowledgeable experts should be leveraged to build awareness? What potential is out there that the founders are not seeing?
    • After these factors are defined, the next step is to develop an action plan and milestones to guide plan execution, plus a budget and alternatives under different resource scenarios.
    • Once the plan is in place, the focus will be to gain early feedback on the company’s product and capabilities, and then iterate quickly to find the right message to target significant segments of the market.
  • The focus of early stage companies has to be on quickly developing plans, and then executing.

You can contact Trevor Shanski at tshanski@ewordofmouth.com

Key Words: Product, Business, Development, Limited, Budget, Transition, Resource, Scarce, Incentive, Focus, Compensation, Performance, Network, Expectations, Action Plan, Execution

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