A look into the science of business development

People often assume that I have an MBA or an advanced degree in management. When I tell them I have a doctorate in organic chemistry, their first question is “how does a Ph.D. scientist end up working with entrepreneurs to create and grow their businesses?”

There are many components of my work in chemistry that have influenced my work as a business development specialist.

As a scientist, I had the luxury of operating in a factual world. The arguments we used to prove or disprove our hypotheses were all built upon substantiated facts, meaning they were tested, verified and are repeatable. The world of science showed me that one can understand and accept ideas based upon fact, never having to take someone’s word for it.

Understanding how a scientist develops and establishes an idea can be quite helpful in business. Scientists build a model to represent an idea that is used to describe and explain phenomena.

The model uses all relevant and substantiated facts, but if a new fact is established that doesn’t fit the model, the model must evolve to conform to this new finding. Over time, the model progresses in accuracy, granularity and strength as more facts are discovered and incorporated.

A new business or expanded business model can be built upon knowledge of the market, the product, finances, etc. A product can be tested and validated, financial analysis can be quantified, but market conditions can be quite variable.

When a business idea is first conceived, it is based upon an understanding of a market and a set of assumptions that lead to the belief there is an unmet need for the product or service. Often, in an early stage of a company, these ideas aren’t verified through data or scientific measurement.

However, there are opportunities to qualify concepts and business ideas through the use of customer discovery techniques.

Customer discovery, which is used in Lean Launch Pad, I-Corps, and similar approaches, is catching fire in the business world and for good reason. In essence, these models take a somewhat scientific approach and involve substantiating one’s conception of the market through a multitude of customer interviews.

While an individual’s description of product or service needs varies, companies can effectively validate a market need of their product through a consensus of potential customers’ opinions.

The customer discovery process can only lead to a more substantiated understanding of the market, giving the entrepreneur the ability to continually refine his/her model. This ability to refine the model allows them to evolve or pivot their product/service into a better direction that leads to a winning business model.

You don’t have to be a scientist to use scientific practices in your businesses. By getting into the practice of “model, test, and refine,” you can put your business in a more secure and confident position.

Anthony Margida is CEO at Akron Global Business Accelerator