What’s in a name…Business Development

01 Dec What’s in a name…Business Development

I love Shakespeare and if the concept of past lives is real, he was probably my mentor in another life. With his acerbic wit, he was able to make a point better than I can ever hope to do with my amateurish sarcasm. But I digress; let me get to the point. In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare wrote: “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose…By any other name would smell as sweet…” And so I ask, what’s that thing we professionals call “Business Development?” I’m beginning to think it’s a euphemism, meant to take the offensive sting out of the words “marketing,” “sales,” “lead generation,” “PR,” “networking;” words that simply mean generating new or repeat business for the firm.

Why is a euphemism needed? Because traditionally it has been distasteful for professionals to market themselves or sell their services. Why are euphemisms dangerous? Because they can de-focus, distract, and they can also mislead. Business Development, or “developing a business” can include many long-term activities that could eventually yield new business–like developing strategic alliances, entering new practice areas, finding a new source of capital. However, the day-to-day discipline of attracting new clients and developing programs and communications to keep your existing clients and generate referrals, is marketing, it’s sales, it’s networking, it’s… what it is.
That said, I like the fact that the phrase “business development” contains the word, “business.” After all, every professional is also a business person, yes? A good thing to remember also. Now I’m starting to sound like Carlin.

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