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A Career in Business Development is the Best Training in Entrepreneurship

By Ashley Nicholson ....December 7, 2022

Today the new hot jobs—especially among the younger Gen Z generation—are influencers and founders/entrepreneurs. At the same time, Gen Z eschews sales roles.

Sales roles are seen as passe and not interesting.  The grand irony is that being an entrepreneur is largely being a salesperson.  You are the first hire and the first business development person.  You have to believe in your company and product and be able to bring in clients. 

For this reason, young people should seriously consider a role in business development if they are entrepreneurial or have entrepreneurial aspirations.  Business development is simply the best job in the world and the best training for entrepreneurship there is.  Also, it is a fulfilling job that makes people happy in their career.  Fortune magazine conducted a study and business development executive was rated as one of the top 10 happiest career paths in the US

Why Business Development is the Best Job in the World for Entrepreneurship:

EXPERIENCES

The companies you work for over the years pay a lot of money to give you life-changing experiences and open up your aperture to new possibilities.  Over the years, I have had top management coursework and degrees paid for by companies.  I have eaten at some of the best restaurants—including Michelin star restaurants—across the United States on the company’s dime.  I have tried exotic foods and wines that many of my fellow colleagues have not.  I have traveled to various conferences across the United States and have met clients in various cities and have stayed in top hotels in San Francisco, Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, and others. I was invited to a networking party on a yacht in Miami.  I have traveled to Paris and Switzerland for work meetings—all on the company’s dime. At one time, I had Delta Gold status because of the amount I traveled, and I did not pay for any of it.  These are not just interesting experiences that can help you grow as a person; the experiences expand your horizons and connect you to diverse people and ideas which can help you in entrepreneurship. 

GROWING YOUR NETWORK & MEETING DIVERSE PEOPLE

With a career in business development, it is literally your job to grow your network. At the same time, you are interacting with diverse people from all walks of life and all industries and cultures.  Many are from all around the world.  This grows your network–which you can use for your business–but also for yourself.  You can use this network to get a new job and you use this network in the future for future clients for your own business.  This diverse network also opens your eyes to new ideas and new industries to establish your own business.  At conferences, I will often meet people who have their own companies in industries and areas I did not even know existed previously. 

EVERY COMPANY IS AN INCUBATOR

In the world of entrepreneurship, you have to hustle and quickly try to create a viable business model.  This is often through trial and error and quick feedback loops.  As a business development professional, you have an advantage and every company you work for is an incubator.  You can learn what works in sales and what works in marketing at each company.  You can learn which go-to-market strategies work quickly.  You also get to learn firsthand and see others’ successes and failures.  This allows you to theoretically succeed faster as you have learned from all the other businesses you have worked at. 

GROWTH IS THE MOST ESSENTIAL ELEMENT OF BUSINESS

Simply stated, if you do not have customers, you do not have a business. Most small businesses fail not because the products or services are lacking in quality, but simply due to a lack of sales. Operations and finances are very important to a company, but arguably nothing is as essential as sales and growth.  The sales training and experience you receive—both through official training and real-world training—is very helpful in entrepreneurship.  It gives you a huge advantage in selling yourself and your products and services and it helps your confidence and mindset.  Business development is a unique field because it is less about tenure and more about results.  Believing that you know how to sell your services or product and believing you can grow based on your past experiences, is essential. 

THE OPPORTUNITY TO HELP OTHERS & SOLVE COMPLEX PROBLEMS

Business development teaches you to listen to clients and understand their problems and then work with them to develop solutions. In government contracting, client problems are often very complex.  Business development allows you to craft innovative solutions while helping people and is very fulfilling for this reason. 


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Ashley Nicholson Guest Author at Hi-Q Group

Ashley Nicholson is the CEO of Avenir Technology, a woman-owned small business that offers business development, management consulting, and technology consulting services. She formerly worked as a director of business development at CALIBRE Systems and Cognosante, and has over a decade of experience in business development in federal government contracting. She specializes in healthcare technology in the federal civilian space and holds a master of arts in international relations from Webster University. Ashley is currently pursuing a master of data analytics at the Georgia Institute of Technology and is an active member of AFCEA, ACT-IAC and Women in Technology.

These views are my own and do not reflect the views of my company or any organizations in which I participate. Follow me on LinkedIn for more insights.


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