August 31, 2007

A look at business development service providers


Business rendezvous for August 2007

A Business Development Service Provider (BDS) is a private or public sector organisation with specialist business development skills. There are many variations in the types of services that are provided by these organisations as each agency must shape its programmes to reflect the unique needs of the local environment with which it functions.{{more}} However, there are common services such as entrepreneurial training, loans, business service centres, financial assessments, marketing and business counselling that may be provided. In many countries, it is not always possible for any single organisation to have the internal capacity to address the wide range of needs that may arise in the business sector. Hence, the common-sense approach is to have agencies complementing each other by concentrating on the area of business development that best suits each individual organisation.

In many parts of the developed world, Business Development Service Providers (BDS) are highly recognised for the assistance they provide to potential and existing entrepreneurs to enable them to acquire the mindset and know-how to make their businesses successful. Unfortunately, developing countries, where there are often high levels of unemployment, are more likely not to make enough resources available to BDS providers so that they could do their jobs more effectively. Sadly, rather than taking a longer -term strategic approach, focus may be placed on a shorter-term solution, ‘fixing’ the problem temporarily. In the long run, the situation may be worsened. Thus, it cannot be overemphasised that in countries where self-employment is promoted as a viable employment alternative, that Business Development Service Providers have a critical role to play in ensuring that the enterprise culture is developed and nurtured. This role is even more important in countries where enterprise and entrepreneurship education are not key elements of the national curriculum of schools.

Thus, if the profiles of Business Development Service Providers are to be enhanced, these institutions must have certain characteristics. These should include

1. Being staffed with individuals who possess the relevant experience and qualification for the different business interventions that would be provided to clients. These would include, but are not limited to, key areas such as:

a. Financial Planning and Management
i. Accounting
ii. Book-Keeping and Record-keeping
iii. Money Management and Budgeting
iv. Financial Analysis
v. Application of financial knowledge to business decisions
vi. Setting up and maintaining accounting systems

b. Business Management/Administration
c. Developing Entrepreneurial Skills
d. Marketing
e. Business Planning
f. Business Counselling
g. Monitoring of Business processes, etc.

2. Being able to provide clients with a competitive advantage.

3. Having a distinct difference in the approach taken to the delivery of business development services in which the time constraints of the average business owner is taken into consideration when designing programmes.

4. Building relationships with clients that help them to succeed by focusing on the achievement of results and how these can be constantly improved.

5. Providing real value to customers.

6. Having a demonstrable track record of being able to deliver quality business development services to a large volume of customers within given time boundaries.

7. Demonstrating the capability to translate key internal strengths into value-added services to clients, thus consistently winning new engagements and introducing new initiatives to meet the changing needs of the business sector.

8. Getting clients to become interested in Business Development Services, especially where funding is not provided.

9. Winning the recognition of regional and international agencies as a quality Business Development Service Provider.

10. Supporting networks of entrepreneurs.

The ten factors listed above can perhaps be considered the ones that are most critical in determining the effectiveness of the Business Development Service Provider.

Submitted by the Centre for Enterprise Development Inc. (CED), a non-profit company that provides business development services to the local private sector. We are located on the 1st Floor, Methodist Building, Granby Street, Kingstown. Telephone 784-451-2235/6. Email cedsvg@vincysurf.com or cedsvg@hotmail.com. ‘’Developing the Local Economy One Business at a Time”