I have been really busy the last few months raising  a convertible debt round for my company. It has been exhausting, and I'm looking forward to closing the $300K round soon. In this process my blog has been neglected. I decided I could at least be posting some of my answers on Quora.  Interestingly enough, it is becoming my creative writing outlet these days.

A little while ago I answered a question another person posed. I had several people upvote the answer in approval so I thought I would pass it along here. The question posed was:

I have a profitable, boot strapped business with over $5 million in revenue. We already have a sales team but not a business development manager to facilitate partnerships, alliances etc. When is the right time to hire a biz dev manager for my  software startup?

I have also just added the text below, so feel free to read it here then read some of the other answers on the live question thread on Quora here.

Seems like two different scenarios here: One for your situation, and one for most startups.

If you have bootstrapped a business to over $5M in annual revenue, then cheers to you! That's impressive. In your particular situation, it seems as if you are asking about hiring someone for biz dev exclusively. I'm assuming you've already had several team members excel in this area already.

With revenue, comes the luxury of choices. It seems like a sustainable and scalable revenue/business model, and it sounds like your company is ready for the next level of growth. So hire someone who is experienced and can help. BUT, if you don't feel like its the right time for your company to move into larger partnerships and strategic alliances, then wait until you do.

In short, a biz dev hire is usually great for a proven product/market fit. Just make sure they are driving revenue and/or at least some other positive metric.. but preferably revenue. : )

For most companies, the growth stage you are in ($5M revenue) is not where most startups are. For that reason, I will try and tackle the larger question:

Business Development is important in all companies and the process should be being executed on from the very early stages (concept, pre-product). All founders, particularly those who are not technical, should be spending a large amount of time in sales/biz dev. I say both sales and biz dev because one can lead to the other and vice-versa.

More importantly: Start selling your idea immediately. Before you build anything. Before you start spending money. This will show you:

  1. What your customers really want to buy, not what you think they want.
  2. Whether your industry is ready for your disruptive startup.
  3. If they price they are willing to pay, creates a sustainable business.

Business Development is a large part of this and I would encourage any startup to begin the process early. Even if you don't hire a person working exclusively on it yet.

Feel free to add some comments below if you have any thoughts on the best way to handle hiring and HR at startups.