I was speaking with an engineer last week about business development strategies for his small business. We mused together about how little civil engineering has changed since the pyramids were built.
Well, of course there have been major advances in technology. The cubit isn’t the unit of measure. Logistics and transportation of construction materials definitely have improved. The labor force involved is hired in, rather than being composed of thousands of “involuntary” participants.
Yet the structure of engineering firms remains pretty constant over the millennia. Have you made the same observation?
There’s a fairly uniform business model involved. There are specific job functions and reporting responsibilities. The hierarchical pecking order has been preserved. The structural integrity of those departmental and functional silos is rock solid.
Because it works, you will tell me.
Could it work more efficiently, creatively, productively and profitably if the hierarchical divisions were deconstructed, I ask? Are there opportunities for horizontal throughput across divisions and functions?
How many individuals were involved in securing the gig to build the Great Pyramid? I’m sure it wasn’t left up to the BD (Business Development) entity. Chances were, that team of individuals remained involved throughout the project, from inception to design development to implementation to creation and post-launch involvement and maintenance.
What does your firm look like? Do you have business development individuals who are responsible for identifying opportunities? What is their involvement in negotiating and closing the final contract? What is their involvement in creating the demo and short-list presentation of proposed design? What is their involvement when the project comes in-house?
Chances are, the BD folks are perceived as hunters: identify prey (leads/opportunities), nurture, develop and then let the internal folks run the demo, negotiations and close . The PM runs the project once in-house.
- How many new business opportunities are created along the way?
- How many new business opportunities are missed because the BDs, architects, engineers, and PMs don’t huddle up and compare notes on what they saw and heard along the way?
Ask the solopreneurs and under-5 person AE firms how they develop business. Chances are, they originally set up their business along the lines of the great legacy companies. If they are sustainable past year three, they deconstructed themselves after year one. Everyone serves multiple functions, providing a nimble and robust set of solutions to satisfied clients coming back for more.
Creating monumental construction doesn’t necessarily mandate having a monumental, legacy business model.
How are you building pyramids these days?
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers, LLC, catalyzes revenue-producing business transition, startup growth and professional development. She works with manufacturing and engineering firms and small business entrepreneurships. Download her newest White Paper at her Free Resources Page.