Scroll through our blog archive and you’ll find a number of posts related to networking and business development. (Like this one Business development is about creating opportunities, not sales and this one Networking-stop asking WIFM) Why? Because successfully growing your business requires putting the time and effort into both.

Business development is a slow relationship-building tactic that includes starting relationships, maintaining and growing those relationships and then converting them into paid work. It is the business of creating opportunities, not sales — although the end game is to generate sales out of those opportunities.

The two big questions, of course, are:

·         How much time should be devoted to business development?

·         What exactly counts towards that time?

According to a study by the University of Philadelphia that looked at successful business practices over a 100-year span, businesses that spent less than 20% of their time on business development activities had a rough ride and most couldn’t survive. Businesses that spent 20% of their time on business development activities grew faster than their competitors, and maximized their growth if they reached 30%. Businesses that topped 30% saw diminished returns as well as lacked focus on executing business.

It’s therefore safe to say that business owners (or the person responsible for generating new business) must spend between 20% and 30% of their time on business development activities to have the best chance at success.

Before patting yourself on the back because you’re sure that you spend enough time on business development, think about it for a minute. In an average 40-hour work week, 8 to 12 hours need to be devoted to business development activities in order to achieve that target.

Reaching that target takes thought and planning. And it may be a challenge to achieve that target every single week — after all, you need time to run your business as well. Map out your time, and even consider colour-coding your calendar so that you can easily figure out how much time you’re spending on business development each week. Some weeks will be heavier than others. This is fine, as long as you’re averaging your target over the course of the month.

The big question now, is what exactly counts towards achieving that monthly target and what is simply a cheater’s way to pad the timesheet? We’ll take a look at that question in our next blog post.

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