4 Business Development Constraints Holding Your Small Business Back

According to our 2018 Villepreneur Survey, Louisville area small business owners identified business development as their organization’s biggest challenge. I was not surprised by this data.

Business development is hard.

In my experience, there are four primary constraints that cause organizations to struggle with business development.

The following constraints are listed in a specific order. If the first constraint isn’t corrected, efforts taken to deal with 2 – 4 will likely be fruitless because there isn’t a significant market for what you are offering. Once 1 has been addressed, 2 needs attention before tackling 3 and then 4.

1. Your product or service does not solve a significant market need

My first business was a martial arts school. A popular discussion topic during that time was the challenge of looking at your martial arts school “black belt eyes.” In other words, school owners had a tendency to present the benefits of training at their martial arts schools from their paradigm rather than working to understand what prospective students wanted to get out of martial arts training.

Sadly, many small business owners approach their business in a similar manner.

Entrepreneurs succeed when they find a way to solve a market need profitably.

You may be the best in the world at making widget x or providing service y; however, if the market doesn’t want or need what you offer to offer, it will be almost impossible to succeed.

Your passion about something doesn’t necessarily mean there is a market willing to pay for it.

2. The target audience is not correctly identified

Audience misidentification is closely aligned with the first constraint. Entrepreneurs must have clarity about the problem they are solving AND who you are solving it for.

For example, the audience who is looking for a quick meal with their family is completely different than the audience looking to celebrate an anniversary dinner at a fancy restaurant.

In both cases, food is the product; however, the quality of the food, service, and overall experience are completely different. As a result, the audiences are completely different. In some instances, they may be the same people; however, they are looking for different things based on what they are trying to accomplish. In this case, a quick family dinner vs. a romantic evening with a spouse.

A carefully defined target audience is much easier to communicate with than a broad, general audience.

3. The brand story does not connect with your target audience

Stories are powerful things in the human psyche. We are hardwired to connect with stories we can relate to.

Crafting an authentic story of your brand and how it solves a problem (alleviating pain or providing pleasure) is an invaluable tool to connect with your target audience.

People will buy a good story long before they will buy a thing.

This is a topic I could write about for days. Thankfully, Donald Miller wrote a book on this topic called Brand Story. I highly this book if you are having trouble connecting with your brand.

4. Ineffective lead generation tactics

Lead generation can be successfully approached in a variety of ways. Much will depend on your product or service, target audience, price point, and other salient factors.

No matter the tactics you use, value must be given with each interaction. People are overwhelmed with marketing messages and have become skilled at tuning out things that don’t add value, especially in B2B markets. The Go-Giver series, particularly Go-Givers Sell More by Bob Burg is an excellent resource on this subject.

The PDCA model will help you take action and make adjustments based on your results.

Plan – create a strategy reach your target audience, tell your brand story, deliver value in a way that motivates a prospect to take action, and define goals

Do – roll up your sleeves and get to work executing your plan

Check – review results after a defined period of time

Adjust – revise your tactics as necessary based on results

Your business development strategy and tactics will change over time as technology advances and new avenues arise to communicate with your target audience. You must be flexible and willing to adjust to the market where the market wants to go if you want to be successful in the long term.

If you pay attention, the market will tell you where to go.


Business development is a grind. Some days you win. Some days you lose. Most days are filled with planting seeds with the hope for a future harvest.

It is nearly impossible for you or your business development team to succeed if they aren’t passionate and confident about what they are selling.

Passion compels one with grit to push through a difficult season or long sales cycles.

Action to Step

Schedule a free 60-minute consultation with one of our Entrepreneur Advisors to discuss how to identify and overcome the business development constraints holding your business back.


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