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Business development for startups: Powerful strategies that drive optimal results

‘Business development’ is no easy task. When it comes to startups, it follows a tactful combination of strategic thinking, project management expertise along with a robust focus on sales and negotiation skills.

Business development for startups can be fun since it is a mix of creativity and analytical skills. When implemented correctly, it propels growth and ROI. Although, startup business development is a common term used nowadays, not many people understand how it works.

Typically, the function of business development for startups comprises a range of activities such as an efficient brand positioning strategy, strategic collaborations, content licensing, product disbursements, monetisations and also acquisitions, if needed. But, it usually varies depending on the size and type of a startup.

According to experts, business development primarily focusses on bringing long-term value to a startup. The work profile of a startup business development professional differs from a business development manager at an MNC. The logic is simple – business development transforms as an enterprise registers growth. In short, as a company evolves, so does business development.

Here are a few tips and time-tested strategies that will help your startup bag more partnership deals –

  • Maintain focus on the goals

It is true that every success-oriented collaboration demands attention from the management. This is important if you are keen to keep the business afloat, strengthen employee count, raise investment and manage other essential activities.

Since the founder of a startup usually faces a time constraint, creating a partner list that will be able to maximise results is of utmost significance. Strategic targeting comes in handy due to its ability to lower the work burden and offer improved return on investment. Selective hunting has been found to be effective in this regard as well.

  • Display your asset and strengthen your position

It has been noticed that larger corporations enjoy an upper hand when it comes to collaboration as companies feel more secure with them. There is a natural bias against partnering with companies that are evolving, unfunded or early stage startups. Hence, every startup eyeing to bolster its position should display its ‘uniqueness’ and asset.

Highlighting a specific asset of a startup should be able to create buzz, grab eyeballs and offer something noteworthy.

  • Use creativity as a weapon

One of the advantages of being a startup is that you can draft your own terms and conditions in the collaboration agreement. Experts suggest that the most efficient business development deals are the ones that are able to unveil new models of business. Brainstorm ideas and explore different possibilities that will eventually help both the enterprises.

  • Aim to help your partner

Every startup before pursuing any deal should understand the goals of the partnering enterprise. Spend time on research to get a clearer picture of the market trends, competition analysis, etc.

Realising the pain point will help a startup to craft the pitch and a business case from the problem-solving angle. The lucrativeness of the deal will enhance further if you are able to share details related to revenue, profit and market share.

  • Introduce competition

Considered as one of the most powerful techniques, mentioning the competition helps to negotiate better, enhances the discussion tempo apart from increasing the chances of fructifying the deal. This tactic is well worth the effort. Moreover, it will also let your target partner know that you are negotiating deals with other enterprises as well. This is an efficient way to handle the bias associated with startups and implement deals in an accelerated timeframe.

  • Display operational promptness to ink a deal   

Startups are believed to be under-staffed, over-worked and most often under-valued. Before opting for any deal, every startup should ensure that they are positioned to offer ample support. Find answers to questions like – Is the startup entity equipped to work on technical details and timelines? Are there sufficient resources to create multiple drafts of an MOU? Does the startup have engineering bandwidth to implement technology collaboration, nurture it via launch and offer post-marketing support?

To create a stand out effect, being ‘operation ready’ is crucial. It makes sense for a startup to venture into partnership endeavours only when they have answers to the above questions.

  • Know when to quit

Out of all the skills, this is the toughest. With time, the company’s target will undergo changes, making you realise that the partnership negotiations are not a strategic fit. The clock ticks faster for startups as markets are consistently evolving and funds are drying up.


A good and efficient business development team for a startup should include a strategic thinker, a technical expert, a gifted relationship builder and more.

Keen to learn about the varied nuances of startup business development? Reach out for our strategic consulting services to recognise growth opportunities and drive client acquisitions successfully. You can share your opinion, thoughts and queries in the comments section below.

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