Business Development -- Growing Your For-Profit or Nonprofit Organization

© Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 Organization?, Starting a Business or Starting a Nonprofit.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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
Deciding Whether to Grow or Not
Evaluate Your Organization -- What Are You Starting From? What Do You Need to Fix First?
Growing Your Organization -- Are You Personally Ready?
Typical Challenges in Growing
General Advice to Grow Your Organization
Getting Professional Help
Planned Growth -- Strategic and Business Planning
Planned Growth -- Organizational Change and Development (Managing Change)
Ways to Grow -- Organizational Alliances
Ways to Grow -- Buying a Franchise
Ways to Grow -- Buying a Business
Ways to Grow a Product and/or Market Development
You May Need to Increase Staff
Leading and Supervising Staff, and Managing Resources
Financing Growth

Also see
Related Library Topics

Also See the Library's Blogs Related to Business Development - Building a Business

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.

Library's Business Planning Blog
Library's Building a Business Blog
Library's Consulting and Organizational Development Blog
Library's Strategic Planning Blog


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
10 Things I Know For Sure About Building a Business
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.
Taking Risks: Your Attitude Toward Business Growth
Expand Your Comfort Zone
Growth Requires Focus - Taking Action Now Can Insure a Brighter Future

Typical Challenges in Growing

Organizations often face the same types of challenges when growing. Organizational leaders often face the same types of challenges, as well.
Founder's Syndrome (founders sometimes struggle to change themselves)
Getting Over Growing Pains

Managing a Young and Growing Small Business
Managing Growth and Mature Stage Small Businesses
The Perils of Expansion
Busting Down the Obstacles to Growth

General Advice to Grow Your Organization

Keep in mind that the following general advice can apply to nonprofits, as well as for-profits.
Grow Your Business Slowly -- A Cautionary Tale
3 Ways to Grow Your Business
Alternatives to Hiring Employees
Scale Your Business by Streamlining Basic Processes and Focusing On Your Core Competency
10 Steps to Grow Your Business in a Difficult Economy
Recording and Reporting (during growth)
Are You Using The Wrong Business Model?
Fraud Symptom 4 Growth strategies based on financial numbers
How to Scale Up Your Service Business
Don’t Take the Sales Order
10 Tips on How to Get More Clients
Getting that Sales Growth!
Got Structure? Need it?
Marketing’s the Engine of a Growing Company
Are you an Innovator, an Entrepreneur, or a Manager?
The Data-Backed Secret to Sales Growth
Gain Insight – Get a Board

Getting Professional Help

You may need to raise funds to finance your growth (we'll address more on this consideration a little later). For example, an Organization Development expert can be very helpful. Organizations often face the same types of challenges when growing. Organizational leaders often face the same types of challenges, as well.
Consider hiring an Organization Development professional, by posing your need in the free online forum, ODNET

Seriously consider getting an accountant who is experienced in matters around growing businesses.
Getting an Accountant

If you hire a consultant, the following link may be useful.
Getting a Consultant

Lastly, you might need a lawyer, for example, to review contracts.
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.)
Strategic Planning
Business Planning
Room to Grow
New Business Models in Emerging Markets
Finding the Hidden Gems in Your Business Model

Planned Growth -- Organizational Change and Development (Managing 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 organizational change.
Organizational Change

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.
Buying and Financing a Franchise

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:

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

The following resources are listed in the order in which you might need them.

Business Planning
Product and Service Development
Intellectual Property
E-Commerce (online businesses)
Basics of Marketing
Market Planning
Marketing Research (tools & methods to examine markets, their needs, competitors, etc.)
Competitive Analysis
Pricing
Positioning (including writing your positioning statement)
Naming and Branding
Advertising and Promotions
Public and Media Relations
Sales
Customer Service
Customer Satisfaction
Social Networking
Sales
Customer Service
How To Make The Shift To High-End Customers
Operations Management

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. The following links will be helpful.
Financing and Managing Growth
Financial Management for the Growing Business
Fundraising in For-Profits
Fundraising in Nonprofits


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For the Category of Business Development

Related Library Topics

Recommended Books

Product Development

Growing Your Organization



Product Development

The following books are recommended because of their highly practical nature and often because they include a wide range of information about this Library topic. To get more information about each book, just click on the image of the book. Also, a "bubble" of information might be displayed. You can click on the title of the book in that bubble to get more information, too.



Growing Your Organization

The following books are recommended because of their highly practical nature and often because they include a wide range of information about this Library topic. To get more information about each book, just click on the image of the book. Also, a "bubble" of information might be displayed. You can click on the title of the book in that bubble to get more information, too.

Also see

Strategic Planning -- Recommended Books

Financing Your Business -- Recommended Books

Product Development -- Recommended books

Planning and Project Management -- Recommended Books

Managing Organizational Change -- Recommended Books




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