What does a business development executive do?
Kitty Harris
Monday, March 28, 2016
6 min read

What does a business development executive do?

‘Business development’ jobs crop up in a range of industries. Although it might sound like a tricky concept to get to grips with, the role is a straight forward one. The focus is on creating more business for the company through a variety of methods, in a similar vein to the way that an account executive works. It's a little sales-focused but not necessarily a telesales role!
If you are looking for a career, or even just an initial graduate job in business development, that doesn’t require too much previous experience beyond a solid undergraduate degree, then heading into business development/biz dev/BD could be a good call. It is great experience to have on your CV, regardless of what you head into afterwards, because it is demonstrative of an ability to be proactive, creative and efficient – essentially showcasing that you are a good all-rounder.


What a business development executive does 
There can be a stigma around this type of role, thinking that it involves endless cold calling, but this is untrue. The aim of a business development executive is to proactively create more business revenue through increasing clients. This can be done using a variety of methods, with the most successful in their field finding new ways of approaching potential individuals or companies. Phone calls might be one way of doing this, but so might be creative personalised email campaigns and utilising social media networks such as LinkedIn. Thinking outside of the box is highly valued in business development executives, as is using your initiative when spotting an opportunity.
Where success for account executives is based on the happiness of their clients and the amount of repeat business they bring in, business development executives usually measure success by looking at the amount of new business that they can create. They will also be expected to look after current clients and encourage repeat business, but primarily their focus will be on building entirely new relationships.
If you hate being stuck behind a desk all day, then this job will get you out and about. Your main working hours are likely to be 9 – 5, but with all the client entertaining you are required to do there is a high chance that much of your working day will be spent in meetings or networking events around the city.

Skills and education for a business development executive role
Business development executives are often preferred to possess an outgoing and energetic personality, as the ones that perform best at networking events are the ones that are sociable. They are also those that can work autonomously and are motivated to seek out opportunities and track down new partner companies. If you are a positive person full of energy and confidence, then you are likely to shine in this type of role. You will need to be a natural talker, with enthusiasm for the company and industry that you work for.
Other useful skills include being logical and good at solving problems with a ‘make stuff happen’ attitude towards life. An extension of this is being entrepreneurial, as many business development executives go on to start their own companies further down the line. Working in this type of role at a startup is a particularly good chance to get hands-on experience about the way that building a company works – so if your long-term aim is to have your own business someday, then working in business development could be perfect for you.


Candidates that are results-driven usually do well in business development because you can see the way that your work directly impacts the company. There is also far more instantaneous gratification that comes in the form of steady commission. While account executive roles may or may not include some form of commission, it is much more likely to be a certainty in the realm of business development executives.


There is no typical route into a business development role, as it is heavily dependent on personality and raw skills. Whilst at university you might have studied English Literature or History and think you aren't the obvious choice for business development, rest assured you only need to be naturally intelligent, inquisitive and a creative thinker. Psychology graduates can be great for jobs that require intricate client interaction, as their course focuses on human behavioural patterns. Finance, marketing and business degrees are usually thought of as more classic degree choices for graduates wanting to move into this area, but anyone who can demonstrate a level of intelligence, resourcefulness and interest in the industry will be in for a good chance of succeeding. Often students who were heavily involved in running societies at university have a sense of business acumen.

Career progression for this type of role is straight forward and easily attainable. You can move into a business management position, then onto head of business development. Potentially after that point you will be in the right place at the right time to found your own company and use all that knowledge to push it to success.
Salary expectations
Salary will also increase as you move up in the ranks. Starting salaries are likely to be between the £18k - £22k mark, moving up rapidly as you gain experience. As a business manager, you can expect to hit the £30k - £50k mark and then into £70k and beyond. Remember that these figures don’t include bonuses for those that hit their targets, so you may end up pocketing much more.
Drive and ambition are vital for business development, so bright grads straight out of university are often some of the best candidates. If you think you might have the tenacity for this role, then consider whether your skills are a good match and begin seeking out relevant opportunities – this could be the next step in your career!

Ready for a business development role at a startup? Check out the BrighterBox Business Development jobs page for a range of roles that need filling ASAP!

Add new comment

Graduate Jobs