As a small business owner
or a solopreneur, business
development relationships
are among the most difficult to manage.

To start exploring these
challenges, we’ll need some common language to describe the types of
relationships that exist. 

We’ll start simply (by
clarifying terms) and add detail as we discuss how to make these relationships
work (a later post). 

The least complicated
relationship is where one person (the subcontractor) works on someone else’s
contract (the contractor). The
subcontractor and the contractor determine a compensation rate in advance. It could be hourly, flat, or based on a fixed
price per deliverable.

The important distinction
is that the subcontractor has not brought in the business and is compensated
only at their predetermined rate.  

They are also not immediately
entitled to follow-up with the client to pursue future work. The client is the contractor’s client.

Qualified Lead
Suppose you introduce a
strong business lead (a customer) to someone outside of your company (an

Through your relationship
with that customer, you determined they had a need in line with your
associate’s capabilities. After gaining
the customer’s permission, you introduced your associate to the customer.

That’s a qualified lead.  

If a qualified lead
develops into a signed contract, you may be entitled to a “finder’s fee” from your
associate (a percentage of the contract or a flat amount) – even if you don’t
work on the contract in any capacity.

After that initial
contract, both businesses (yours and the associate’s) have a relationship with
that client and either may follow-up with them in the future.  

In this case you and
another entity (a partner) pursue work together. You both contribute equally to business
development efforts and, while a contract with the client may be signed by one
party or the other, the financial risks and benefits of the contract, as well
as the client contact itself, are shared in some predetermined manner.  

It is possible to combine
these roles. You may be the
subcontractor on a project for which you provided a qualified lead. In that case you might not only be entitled
to your predetermined rate, but also a “finder’s fee”.  

All of these arrangements
are based on relationships: between you and other businesses, between you and
your customers.

Everything we’ve covered
so far must be viewed through the lens of your customer’s needs and

Those needs trump all