Business Development - Growing Your For-Profit or Nonprofit OrganizationBusiness Development — Growing Your For-Profit or Nonprofit Organization.

Whether your organization is a for-profit or nonprofit, you have to address certain considerations and make certain decisions if you set out to intentionally expand — or grow — your organization, products and/or services. You can grow your organization, products and/or services just by managing them well, for example, by having very good products and services that are sold with strong sales and customer service. However, this topic in the Library is for those with an explicit goal to intentionally grow the organization, product or service.

Notes About Terms:

The phrase business development is so common and broad in nature that it means many different things to many different people. In this Library topic, the phrase means growing — or expanding — an organization, product and/or service, including by starting a new product or service, if necessary. The phrase “business development” traditionally does not refer to starting a new organization. For information relevant to that activity, see Entrepreneurs — Are You Really Ready to Start a New Venture?, Starting a Business or Starting a Nonprofit. The term “development” could mean strengthening, rather than expanding, the organization, products or services. However, business development traditionally has not meant primarily the process of strengthening; rather, it’s meant growth or expansion. Certainly, many people would agree that it’s more important to be sustainable than to grow (although growth could be done, but sustainably). For those people, see the topic Organizational Sustainability. Although the guidelines in this section apply to growing an organization, product or service, the term “organization” is used to apply to either of these three — this is to avoid tedious duplication of terms throughout this topic.

Sections of This Topic Include.

Understanding Life Cycles of Organizations, Products and Services.

Organizations go through certain life cycles just like other systems, including people, plants and animals. When setting out to intentional grow, it really helps organizational leaders to understand the nature of each of these cycles and the challenges in moving from one cycle to another. When reading the following articles, think about what life cycle your organization, product or service is in. Find Your Business Life Cycle Basic Overview of Life Cycles of Organizations Founder’s Syndrome — How Organizations Suffer — and Can Recover.

Deciding Whether to Grow or Not.

There are certain considerations that must be made when deciding whether to grow or not — you don’t have to grow it if you don’t want to. To Grow or Not to Grow How to Expand Without Losing Your Indie Culture Are You Ready to Grow Your Business?

Evaluate Your Organization — What Are You Starting From? What Do You Need to Fix First?

Before you start major activities to grow your organization, you should first get a realistic impression of how your organization is doing now. There are a variety of tools that you can use to get a quick impression. Organizational Assessments (For-Profit) Organizational Assessments (Nonprofit)

Growing Your Organization — Are You Personally Ready?

There are certain considerations about yourself that also must be made when deciding whether to grow your organization or not — again, you don’t have to grow it if you don’t want to. Are You Personally Ready to Start a New Venture? Taking Risks: Your Attitude Toward Business Growth 33 Small Ways to Expand Your Comfort Zone.

Typical Challenges in Growing.

General Advice to Grow Your Organization.

Getting Professional Help.

There are many sources of help, especially for small to medium-sized businesses. Many of these sources are the same as those for helping you to start a business. This link is to many free sources of help. Free Help to Start a Business.

If you hire a consultant, the following link may be useful. All About Consulting – Types, Skills and Approaches.

Lastly, you might need an account and lawyer, for example, to review contracts. Getting an Accountant Getting a Lawyer.

Planned Growth — Strategic and Business Planning.

One of the best ways to carefully think through how you want to grow your organization, product or service is through the use of business planning — many people might refer to this as business development planning to produce a Business Development Plan. Business planning applies to for-profits and nonprofits (in the case of nonprofits, business planning is sometimes associated with Social Enterprise.) (Many people believe that strategic planning should focused on the entire organization, while business planning should be focused on a particular product or service — thus, business planning is repeated in the section, below, about growing a product or service.) All About Strategic Planning All About Business Planning New Business Models in Emerging Markets Finding the Hidden Gems in Your Business Model.

Guidelines, Methods and Resources for Organizational Change Agents.

Significantly developing an organization involves significant organizational change. Organizations are changing today like never before. Over the last ten years or so, there has been a dramatic increase in the amount of literature about accomplishing long-lasting successful organizational change. Guidelines, Methods and Resources for Organizational Change Agents.

Ways to Grow — Organizational Alliances.

Another way to grow your organization is to merge with another organization or form a joint venture. Organizational Alliances (collaborations, joint ventures, acquisitions, mergers)

Ways to Grow — Buying a Franchise.

In some cases, you may be better off to buy a franchise, that is, a business strategy and structure that has been proven to work in other markets and your challenge is to set up your franchise in your locale. Many people might assert that this is not a form of business development; rather, it’s entrepreneurship in starting a new organization. All About Franchising.

Ways to Grow — Buying a Business.

You can also grow your organization by buying another organization, or one or more of its product lines. Note that a nonprofit typically cannot be “bought,” as it is owned by the public, not by individuals or stockholders. Similar to buying a franchise, many people might assert that this is not a form of business development; rather, it’s entrepreneurship in starting a new organization. Buying a Business.

Ways to Grow — Product and/or Market Development.

Quite often, the best way to grow an organization is to grow your markets. For example, organizations can generate revenue from understanding the Product/Market Grid:

Selling more of the current products to more of the current customers (customer maximization) Selling more of the current products to new customers (customer development) Selling new products to current customers (product development) And/to selling new products to new customers (diversification).

You May Need to Increase Staff.

The following link is to a collection of well-organized articles in regard to staffing planning, recruiting, screening applicants, hiring applicants, training them and managing their performance. Staffing.

Leading and Supervising Staff, and Managing Resources.

Development won’t be successful unless the people in the organization are successfully led and supervised, and the organization’s resources are successfully managed. Leadership Management Supervision.

Financing Growth.

It’s very likely that you’ll need some form of financial assistance from investors or funders to help fund the growth. Many of the sources of funding to start a business are those that might fund expansion of a business. How to Get Money to Start a Business Financing and Managing Growth Fundraising in For-Profits Fundraising in Nonprofits.

Learn More in the Library’s Blogs Related to Business Development.

In addition to the links on this current page, also see the following blogs that have posts related to Business Development — Building a Business. Scan down the blog’s page to see various posts. Also see the section “Recent Blog Posts” in the sidebar of the blog or click on “next” near the bottom of a post in the blog. The blog also links to numerous free related resources.