Looking for Guidance in running business development arm of a startup


I'm looking to join a very small company (5 employees) and run all of business development/sales and marketing. My professional experience lies in 8 years of Sales in the online media and enterprise software segments. After having discussed with the CEO of this new company the objectives that need to be fulfilled, I have realized that besides managing the HR and Finance activities, I will practically have to be directly responsible or involved in everything else (some Operations, Sales, Marketing, Product Development, Customer Service, Testing etc..) The good news is that the engineer who developed this product works for the company but I believe that I will need to make sure he does his job or else it may reflect poorly on post sales and the customer’s experience with our product. In these areas, where I don’t have much experience, is where I am looking to leverage a or couple of resources to help me get through. Any suggestions on books, sites, services or even coaches that I can connect with?

Thank you,


Software Development Business

asked Feb 18 '10 at 10:35
113 points
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  • re: "I will need to make sure he does his job or else it may reflect poorly on post sales and the customer’s experience with our product" -- The engineer is probably saying the same thing about you... – Tim J 14 years ago
  • I am sure he will, but my goal is to succeed, egos aside. I care about results and in order to achieve them, to the best of my abilities, I need to run my area as well as be aware of activities that are not under my control but can directly or perhaps even indirectly affects sales, profits and company growth. – Danny 14 years ago
  • Thank you all for your answers/help. Much appreciated! – Danny 14 years ago

4 Answers


I'm sure you'll get lots of great answers and recommendations. But one I'd throw out there is to look to your network. Are there friends and colleagues who have expertise in the specific areas that you don't who could help?

If so, they could help just as friends and through a phone call or lunch periodically. Help you with specific key situations you face or help point you towards resources they find beneficial. Or use them within an advisory board structure where there's a little more formal involvement. (There have been threads about pros and cons of advisory boards and how to create.)

Best of luck,

answered Feb 18 '10 at 11:03
4,214 points


First, hit the basics - it's important that you build strong teamwork with your new peers. Don't make this a "I drive sales and work to overcome your product deficiencies". In a tiny company like this, it's way more important to drive processes and execution together in an open and collaborative way.

I'd suggest you first meet with each of the new team members - particularly the key engineer - and listen aggressively to them about the company, the product, the market, key clients, and how they see the value of the product.

Lay out your approach to the market and to driving sales - how you'll get leads and then the key progression steps you'll drive to move the leads to signed contracts. Find ways to include the various members of the team in key sales efforts. Do a weekly update to the whole team in which you show your pipeline and see where and how each member of the team might be able to help with key transactions.

Second, do something new and different - look at how you can leverage social media tools to help identify prospects, progress key transactions, and then support clients. There's lots of references here at answers.onstartups.com on that front.

Good luck!

answered Feb 19 '10 at 23:51
Warren E. Hart
2,181 points


Been there. In 'sales'. Know exactly what you are facing.

First of all, how 'set' is your employment agreement with the company? You are going to require specific authority, in writing, to perform cross 'function' supervisory and policy enforcement actions. You cannot to be tied to a 'permissions' tree, or you'll find it impossible to function effectively, if at all. Responsibility cannot be assigned without conferring the requisite authority.

Second, you are GOING to face the classic 'rice bowl' issue. Whether the company realizes it or not, simply by hiring you on, and assigning this kind of range of responsibilties they have instituted a 'structural re-organization'. This ALWAYS generates fears and feelings of 'imposition', especially in a small, tightly knit group. Office politics and 'back channel' whispers will be rife. Sounds silly, but can be the most damaging issue to surface.

Best advice, SAY NOTHING to anybody about their jobs, the company, your plans, what the company wants, how or if any changes will be made for at least three days. (Better a full week if you can.) 'Don't know, yet.' 'Can't say, yet.' "What do you think needs to be done?' 'Where would you start?' are about all you should say, and LISTEN.

Be happy to talk further if you feel it could help. www.abusinessmentor.com

Good Luck!

answered Feb 18 '10 at 11:08
A Business Mentor
215 points


Join 1M/1M network I like it it startups helping startups.

answered Jun 17 '10 at 10:16
Dean Hamton
112 points

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