What do I do?

Ok, this is a question I get a lot, mostly because i work for myself. Now, I’m going to divide this into what I do now and what I’ve done in the past. I’ve made several changes, including getting out of the Defense and Homeland Security business, narrowing my scope of work, and focusing into a specific market and function.

In other words, when I first ventured out of Defense I basically took any job I could get. And there were some strange ones. But now I’m getting established and findng a niche. So what is that niche?

I am a “Business Development Consultant.” Now, most people look for a “grant writer” but that is a bad term for people like me actually do.

A grant writer is just that – you give me all the infomation I ask for and I write it into a format. No graphics, no printing, no program design assistance, and most importantly, no information management functions.

Now this may seem like a small thing, but a Grants Manager actually builds a plan over time and manages the whole process. A Capture Manager or something of that sort will take it a little further and actually develop the program being written alongside a current Program Manager. But this person will often go on to manage the program and will rarely be a direct member of the grant writing team.

Ok, so this is actually the abbreviated version, but a Business Development Manager or Consultant if you’re a contractor does all of the above, plus some.

I build project plans for the entire developmemt of a business… or in other words, I design a war plan to fill the war chest… to make the company more money. This often includes marketing plans, communication  plans, fundraisng plans (for non-profits), and other overall plans that usually stretch from one to three years.

Often I am asked to hang around and help implement a plan or a group of plans or the whole business development plan. Imagine a tree – the trunk is the business development plan. The big limbs would include marketing, fundraising, etc. The fundraising branch would include public funding, private grants, donations, etc. The public grants limb would include federal, state, and local grants, not to mention any contracts that may come along to directly link with a governmental agency for services or products.

That’s my primary branch right now. I’ve recently done a marketing limb and a communicatoins limb. I was only asked to write the marteting plan. I was asked to complete the implementation of the communication plan.

Writing any ‘plan’ in business is a lot of work. It involves a heck of a lot of research, personal interviews, immersion into the culture of the business, business acumen, a knowledge of the history of the business and the industry, and an idea about timing and budgeting.

Implementing a plan goes all the way down to tactics (from goals, objectives, and strategies)… For example,  implementing a communications plan may involve public relations work, advertising (print radio, TV, and new media), and grass roots level work. It also involves timing and controlling information, responding to the opponent’s moves, and developing formal and informal relationships with people that GSD (get shit done).

Now I never do all the tactical work myself. Sometimes I manage a team directly, sometimes I am just dotted-lined into the management team, and sometimes I just feed the project plan to a middle manager.

In short, my specialty is in collecting, organizing, managing, and disseminating information as a project manager, strategist, or tactician, depending on what the job demands.

I don’t know if that sheds any light on anything.

Right now I am focusing on working with non-profits, developing funding, especially in grant writing where I have an especially well-developed skill. I can thank the DOD for that skill. I fell into the work and just happened to be ok at it.

I’ve also learned not to be foolish and take on jobs I either can’t handle or don’t know how to do… don’t take me wrong, I don’t turn them down. That’s what sub-contracting is for. That’s where my personal business plan is going… I want to be able to take on multiple contract in all the above and go through them simultaneously, which of course means having a crew on-hand.

I’m know 3 things:

  1. There is tons of work for proposal writing in contracts and grants.
  2. There are tons of people who are trying to do this work who have no idea what they’re doing (I’ve seen some crap you wouldn’t believe)
  3. For whatever reason I have been blessed with a talent for this work and I know I’m good at teaching others, which lends me to building a business out of it.

So the trick is working and saving money, getting more established, perfecting my business plan (which will include all of the above), and getting a business loan.

2 years… we’ll see how it goes. Wish me luck.

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