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Business Development with Tristan Wright

Business development is something most businesses, in fact all businesses, will have to talk about. Today, Tristan is talking to us specifically about small business development.

The Next 100 Days Podcast, Business Development

Tristan’s experience of business development 

If you dreamed to climb Mount Everest, you wouldn’t go alone would you? You would want someone who has already been there to take you. These people are called sherpas.

Interestingly, Tristan calls himself a business sherpa. He is someone who has been up to the top of his Mount Everest (this being his previous business) – he actually fell down the side of it – and he learnt a lot from that journey. Now, he uses those experiences and knowledge to help others in their own small business goals; he helps them reach their own Mount Everests.

Tristan the business sherpa

Sherpa’s are really important because they steer you in the right direction; they tell you where to put your feet and where not.

At the end of the day, Tristan doesn’t know everything – nobody can know everything. However, he is can be a helpful outside perspective, drawing on his own experiences to help other businesses. Yes, there are still going to be mistakes made along that journey, but they’re going to be realised a lot quicker and worked through a lot quicker.

As a business coach, Tristan has learnt a lot more from working with other small business with Evolve to Grow.

Evolve to grow

With the human mind, when we want to be happy we need to be growing and learning new things. Once we get to a certain stage of growth, we need to evolve to start our new period of growth. Hence, “Evolve to Grow”.

A three-step process – or not?

Within Tristan’s business, he has developed a three-step process. In fact, it’s not three anymore but a FIVE step process called the Ultimate Objective Ladder.

  1. First of all, you need to begin with the end objective in mind. What do actually want to achieve? What is the end goal?
  2. From there, the next step is to research. Work out if the end goal is viable and the right end goal to be directing your business too.
  3. Strategy; how are you going to achieve this end goal?
  4. Execution plan – how are you going to get there? So many people get stuck at this point but execution is vital for achieving your goal.
  5. Step back, review and analyse to make sure that your execution is helping move forward toward the goals that you have achieved. Funnily enough, you need to be stepping back every 90 to 100 days, which links nicely with the name of our podcast! The human brain works in 90-100 day spreads so, if you go much beyond that, you will get lost. Make sure that reflection is a regular priority.

Purpose and process

This is a five-step process that is very similar to other processes. What Tristan has done is draw on lots of different business development processes – corporate systems, for example – and translated it into layman’s terms, considering small businesses.

The interesting thing with this process is that 1 and 2 are not the other way around. Tristan is very specific about knowing what you want out of life and your small business – then you can do your market research and figure out how you can get there.

This fits in a lot with the idea of purpose, which has been discussed a lot on the show recently; do what is right for you. It is so easy to get sidetracked by a shiny object but, if it’s not tied into your own purpose and goals, it can lose it’s shine and become a burden very, very quickly.

Shiny object syndrome


a) What makes you happy?

b) What is the ultimate benefit that your business delivers to the end client?

Try tying in those two factors. Once you can link those two, you can then start working out what the ultimate objective is.

For example, one of Tristan’s clients has a passion around the business’s industry, which is marketing to those to whom English is their second language. At a personal level, she understands that she has life pretty good and she wants to be able to improve other people’s lives. She has a message to share with people. However, for so long her business and her passion have been disconnected. Tristan is helping her to link her passion and business, which can help her take the next step to her small business development.

Out of this process, her sales manager now understands what the benefit of the business is; he’s not just selling a product. With values comes an understanding of business and the services/products which can improve sales. This certain business has seen an increase in sales from 50% to 90% which is amazing. This all comes from knowing the purpose and goals of the business, which then stems into knowing and believing in the benefits of the business.

The sticking point…

What is really interesting is that execution of a process toward a goal is where most businesses get stuck. Why is that?

So, lots of people go straight into execution and don’t plan; they then realise they have been executing the wrong thing – they’re going down the wrong direction. Or, they create a strategy which demonstrates the big picture, but they don’t know how to shape that into small blocks of 100 days. Businesses can then get stuck because the big picture becomes overwhelming. Putting that into a strategy is really hard.

That’s not just a small business thing – that can happen within corporate too. Communicating a plan to more than one person can be really difficult, because everyone has a different interpretation of what that plan means. What needs to happen is that the team of people concerned within a business, all need to be involved in the vision at the very start. Also, they all need to take ownership of that company vision.

What’s Tristan’s personal take on strategy?


Practical turn-arounds

So Tristan almost lost his business and had to turn it around. How did he do that practically, in a way that he now attracts clients that he earns a fee from?

With his sportswear business, he had built it up, had big issues with it and thus realised he had to let go of his ego and arrogance. He realised he couldn’t do it all by himself. That’s when he started asking questions and was able to rebuild it.

After selling this business, Tristan took the time to think and fully understand what it was that he wanted from life. He learnt what made him happy – when he was leading sports teams and running his business. That’s when he realised that was his passion.

Naturally, he had people coming to ask him for support because of his personality and the fact he was open with people about his journey.

Initially, he attracted clients by crafting a basic business plan and took on free clients from whom he could get client testimonials. Through testimonials he was able to gain referrals and build brand credibility. And now, Tristan is business sherpa for clients all around the globe: Melbourne, Sydney, Singapore, New Zealand…

Brand credibility

Just having run a previous business was not enough credibility. Tristan could get referrals and he could create marketing collateral, but you need to have runs on the board. The easiest way was, and is, to get testimonials. For Tristan, this meant offering his services for free; sometimes you need to do that to get into the world of business.

What does a business coach do?

ASK A LOT OF QUESTIONS – Tristan challenges people a lot. A lot of it is about challenging thoughts and the way that businesses have been doing their work. However, at the end of the day being a business coach (for Tristan) is about working out what his clients want out of their business and life, and creating a strategy that helps them get there as soon as possible.

He cannot do the work for them. Rather, he asks questions of them and pushes them to work at it themselves. Tristan offers an impartial (…or independent?) view on what the business is doing to help them think differently.

Finding clients who want business development coaching

Most of Tristan’s international clients are predominantly through referrals. However, he does have and use social media also, posting content on LinkedIn and Medium. Saying that, nothing beats a referral. It’s an easy sale!

What Tristan prioritises is relationships – you can’t rely on referrals. You want people to contact you for the first time and them feel like they already know you. The best way to do that is to be an open book and be vulnerable – share your story online and through podcasts and videos so that people can get to know you. Also, share your knowledge and expertise online. Allow yourself to be an open book and people will come to trust and rely on you; when they’re ready, they will then turn to you pre-sold.

This is where Graham fondly brings up Dan Kennedy! Dan Kennedy says he expects people to know about him, have done the research about him, and gone to see him in his quarters. In effect, it’s a mindset of “well, I’ve got to that position in life where you need to market yourself to me before I will take you on as a client.” This sort of technique works time, however.

Clair Kim, guest in our last podcast, has a similar attitude. One of the aspects of her website says ‘We’re a fit if you want to’. This is very polarising and you need to know your specific target market. However, it turns off the people you don’t want to work with, which is useful when you really want to be spending your time with clients that you do want to work with.

Time, and time, and time again…

Something Tristan finds himself dealing with time and again is the complexity of small companies – simplify it. Keep it simple, keep it safe (or rather, less overwhelming!).


Instead of serving 50, you can follow Graham’s business ethos of targeting the affluent. That way, you can spend quality time and business with 10 clients rather than spreading yourself too thinly with 50 or more clients.

Starting at the bottom and working your way up isn’t as successful as you may think. If you look at the businesses that grow rapidly and successfully, what they do is position themselves at the top and exceed that.

Once again, Kevin brings into play that these issues are not just for small businesses. In bigger companies, you can also find that the bottom 20% of the customers are dragging 80% of the costs through. The top 20% are driving 80% of the profit. You must look at who your biggest and best customers are, and work accordingly.

The key really is to attract the type of customers that will give you 10 eggs, rather than those who will give you 2!

If you want to know more about Tristan and his business, feel free to click here.

The next 100 days podcast is sponsored by Linked Professionally and is brought to you by Kevin Appleby and Graham Arrowsmith