Learn how to leverage passion in business development. Passion allows you to combine different concepts and build your personal way to work.
During my career, I learned one important skill that helped me create a personal and effective way of working. I learned how to leverage passion in business development. What does it mean precisely? Well, at some point, I decided to merge all the things I loved the most, and that helped me have a unique positioning as a business developer.
It all started with my passion for architecture. The ability to design the most sustainable and circular built environments is what gives me purpose. During almost 12 years of working in a leading firm in modern sustainable architecture, business development crossed my path.
Very quickly, business development became my new passion because it allowed me to cultivate and realize the company's ambitions. It gave me the opportunity to create the best of both worlds and design “sustainable modern architecture” for our newest clients.
Combining the yachting industry with architecture
Sailing is one of my biggest passions since I was a kid. So the “high-tech development” in the yachting industry became a huge inspiration in my job as an architect. The offshore racers are developing towards high-performance racers, for example by introducing lightweight carbon material and or foils to lift the hulls and accelerate boat speeds.
Quickly I became fascinated by the use of technology in sailing. So much so that I started talking about the high-tech approach in the sailing industry, applying it to sustainable architecture. I basically combined two different worlds and created a unique metaphor.
Leveraging this metaphor helped me get speaking engagements both in the Netherlands and abroad. Everybody loved the combination of these concepts because it was a new approach to sustainable architecture. In addition, it helped me get in touch with many new clients. One of my favorite moments was winning a project for a client with the ambition to develop an “off the grid” sustainable high-rise housing development.
Bridging the gap between real estate managers and developers
During almost a year of sabbatical, my ambitions became clearer and I found out I had a greater passion for Business Development than I noticed earlier. Therefore, I decided to start my own practice Willand Business- & Concept Development in the spring of 2018. In the beginning, I started working as a business developer with a focus on architectural design and Start-up firms.
Parallel in the first year, to stay close to my profession as an architect, I started with Concept Development to design-think new concepts in real estate. In this process nowadays we (co-)initiate new projects, work on feasibility studies and form final design teams. By combining these two concepts I managed to bridge my real estate portfolio managers with developers. After two years of being an entrepreneur, this department became a unique selling point when pitching my services to new clients.
Developing new skills
In these past two years, I saw the benefit of mixing all my passions into business development as it allowed me to have a unique profile. And most of all, it enabled me to build a career that makes me truly happy. But, there was still something missing until in 2018 – together with Hans Bouscholte – I created the foundation Holland Ocean Racing. The Ocean Races Academy in high-performance sailing educates young professional sailors.
Hans taught me the skills to run a professional sailing team and to host team-building events with corporate guests. So, in the last 2 years, I developed towards the role of Operational manager to run the day-to-day operations. Since 2018 we spend many nautical miles at sea on two Volvo Ocean Racers³ (BOUdragon / Kings’ Legend).
Leverage passion in business development
As I grew in my roles, I started to leverage my passion in business development exponentially.
“A second metaphor” was born as a result of the knowledge I gained from team management and team building on high-performance race yachts. I began to relate this to Integrated collaboration in architecture, which nowadays is a key aspect in real estate and architectural projects.
For example, projects run by governments, schools, corporates, or developers are mainly led by integrated collaborating teams. One of these methods is a composition of Design, Build, Finance, Maintain, and Operate (DBFMO), or a split-off.
These integrated collaboration methods became an integral part of my company where business development meets concept development. And finally, the last piece of the puzzle: the sailing business which is merging these two together.
Sailing as a business became the cross-link between these roles.
Connecting the dots
Business development was the fuel that allowed me to create a unique professional path. Using metaphors from one field to another made it very easy for me to follow my passions and fully enjoy my career. This is the process I went through when shaping my journey.
1 – Come up with the best strategy to generate a business DNA
The first and most important thing to do is to develop a long-term strategy. Therefore I worked with a business coach that helped me define a strategy for the upcoming 15 years. With the goal to develop Willand’s core values, vision, and mission in a One Page Strategic Plan. This resulted in overall brand identity, as the “Sailing Architect” in Business- & Concept Development.
2 – Define priorities and roles
We have two major branches at Willand a Business Development department that works with architectural design firms and start-ups to acquire new project acquisitions. Typically we are involved with sustainability and circularity projects.
On the other hand, the Concept Development department works with real estate portfolio managers and developers. As their concept architect and process manager, we are involved in a process of exploring concept developments in several countries. In The Benelux and France, and also on the African continent in the countries of Zambia, Togo, and Burkina Faso.
Splitting the two roles allowed us to focus and bring our vision to life. But we needed a few more steps to realize our unique position.
3 – The merging process
We had two types of stakeholders which had a lot in common. Real estate developers have a big interest in architecture…and vice versa! So I decided to merge the two and function as an intermediary between them.
As a concept architect, I am able to introduce my Business Development clients to real estate portfolio managers and developers. In these cases, the architectural firms become lead architects within the design processes of running concept development projects.
4 – Finally, cross-link and create the best team spirit.
During the sailing season, the next level overlap comes into play, when it comes to actually team building. We invite our business- & concept development clients to team-building events on the Volvo Ocean Racer BOUdragon. Within these training sessions, we focus a lot on building trust and a sense of reliability among the participants.
To make it easier for you to navigate business development, we created The BD School:
The first platform is entirely dedicated to business development.
Our mission is to help ambitious BD pros and companies acquire the skills they need to be successful in their job.
If you’re looking for a complete course to help you advance your career, check out our Business Development Course.
And if you manage a business development team and need help making them more effective, visit our corporate training for teams.