Congratulations – after a lot of planning, you’ve started the journey of your startup! There’s so much to do in this exciting phase of your business, that you may feel pulled in many directions. Some days you may feel you’ve got so much on your plate that you don’t know where to start.
Over the course of growing your business, most of your tasks will fall into 3 large buckets:
1.) Staying in contact with business relationships you’ve already created through past work
2.) Nurturing business relationships and the associated work you currently have
3.) Planting seeds for future business relationships you want to cultivate
In the first month of your business, you will likely find that much of your work falls into the third bucket. You’ll be reaching out to existing contacts and to contacts you’ve received by referral. You may be doing a lot of research, outreach and marketing, initiating the first contact with potential new customers, and preparing introductory pitches. If you ran a pilot of your business before formally starting up or if you ran the startup as a side business before making the move to full-time, you will have some customers from that pilot whom you will want to keep close.
In my business, I chart my progress and organize my time in this matrix to keep me focused and steady even in the most chaotic times.
The 3 X 3 X 3 Plan for New Startup Business Development
The 3 X 3 X 3 business development plan provides an easy way to slot and scan your weekly to-do list to make sure you’re devoting some time to each of these important components of business development. With your list of to-do items in front of you, see if you have three weekly to-dos in each of the following buckets:
This bucket could consist of researching new potential customer bases, new uses for your products or services, or drafting up a list of dream clients, customers, or supporters of your brand. It could consist of research that you do through your own online searches or it could be speaking with experts and relevant contacts to get their advice and guidance.
This is where you put your research to work. Make initial contact with that dreams list of clients, customers, and supporters. The contact could take the form of a marketing campaign, press outreach, or a personal note to explore the possibility of a future pitch. While it’s always nice to get a quick return response on these outreach efforts, recognize that you may need to make several professional and polite attempts. It’s always possible that you may not get a response at all despite your diligence and ingenuity. That’s okay – the important thing is to keep throwing your hat in the ring with a variety of angles and contacts. You never know what will hit and what won’t so you’re always better off trying than wondering.
You’ve done your research, put it to work through outreach, and now you have a return response asking for more info. You’re rounding second base with third in sight. While it’s nice to have business just fall into your lap, it’s often the result of a lot of work over a long stretch of time. Pitching is your chance to step into the spotlight with your bold idea and flesh out the details of it: Who are you targeting, what does that target need, and how are you going to deliver a solution?
From week-to-week, month-to-month, and even year-to-year, you will find the ratio of the to-dos in these different buckets will vary. This fluctuation is completely normal and necessary. To keep your business fresh and to guard against the inevitable peaks and valleys, keep your eye on this 3 X 3 X 3 plan and be aware of how your efforts are spread over this matrix. Your business, and customers existing and new, will thank you for it!
About the Author:
Christa Avampato is a product developer, freelance writer, and yoga and meditation teacher based in New York City. She blogs daily about the art of creative living at Christa In New York: Curating a Creative Life and is an advisor for LaunchHouse, a seed capital fund