Dec 21 2023

When it’s Time to Hire Your First Chief Business Development Officer

(Post 1 of 4 in the series of Scaling CPDO’s).

For most startups the idea of hiring a CBDO is a pipedream, it’s a role that only global corporations have, right? After all, strategic partnerships and M&A are rare events for a startup and can be handled by the founder/CEO, or potentially by someone in Sales.  If a startup is partner or channel heavy, those areas may be the focus of the Sales team in general.  Or, if there is sporadic M&A activity that can be handled by external advisors or bankers. So how do you know when it’s time to hire your first CBDO?

You know it’s time to hire a CBDO when you are spending too much of your own time on things that a CBDO could be doing. When a deal shows up, it’s a mountain of work because there are countless meetings and conversations both internal and external to the company and with your board; there’s a ton of due diligence that needs to be done, and there’s always thinking about the strategic roadmap moving forward. The problem is that you can’t control when a deal shows up but once it does, a series of processes and tasks that are time-dependent kick in and it can consume all of your bandwidth. It’s worth it to hire a CBDO if you think you’re only going to do one deal just to take all that effort off your plate.

Another sign that you should hire a CBDO is if your board asks you for your M&A roadmap, and you don’t have a great answer and aren’t sure how to get to one. For a startup the stratetgic roadmap might just be to grow the company any way they can, but for a scaleup you’ll have to be much more thoughtful about strategic growth, you’ll need to have metrics, benchmarks, and timelines, you’ll need to know whether you can hit those milestones organically or whether you need to partner, acquire, or sell off parts of the business. A CBDO not only thinks about all the nuances of a stratetgic roadmap, but has done the work to make it easy to pull the trigger when the opportunity arises.

A more practical solution for many startups is to consider a fractional CBDO. A fractional CBDO may be the way to go if you need help defining your partnership or M&A strategy, or you need help creating a market map and you don’t want to rely on an external advisor or banker for those. A fractional CBDO can also help execute a couple of M&A transactions that are too small for a banker so if you’re not sure about whether or not a full-time CBDO makes sense for you, you can experiment with smaller deals first. A fractional CBDO could also help define a major new strategic building block like “creating an indirect sales channel” or “international expansion,” and work with you and your whole leadership team together to create that, especially if no one at your company has experience in doing that. 

You can find this post on the Bolster Blog here.