Large companies are always considering new growth ventures in the form of new product lines, geographic expansions, or new lines of business. But the process of developing and launching these ideas lays down a gauntlet for those looking to lead them.

Of course, you already know that. Because over the last 12-18 months you proved the market exists, made countless presentations, and ‘laid the groundwork’ for your revenue-generating growth venture.

But there’s just one problem… You can’t seem to get any support from functional leaders in marketing, supply chain, or sales. No matter how well you leverage your senior executive support friendships, you aren’t getting the support you need, and you can’t figure out why.

Brian OConnor Growth Venture TractionPhoto by KhalidAlbaih

Without the right functional support, your growth initiative will fail. And along with that failure goes the 5-10 percent revenue growth your company was counting on and your future career prospects. When your new venture reaches roadblock after roadblock with functional departments, it’s a clear sign that you haven’t factored in an important element in the success of the venture. And if you don’t proactively address what’s missing, your plan will meet its untimely end in a pile of forgotten paperwork.

Here’s how to reevaluate your existing plan and get the positive support you need from functional leaders.

Properly Position Your Business Plan

Functional leaders certainly want see a business plan that will help the company achieve its
growth objectives, but they’re equally interested in understanding how your plan will affect their departmental goals.

Start by understanding that a functional leader’s primary responsibility is efficiently supporting today’s revenue and business model. Your initiative is at best a distraction and at worse a risk to a functional leader’s ability to do what senior management has tasked them to do. It’s your responsibility to appeal to each functional leader’s risk-averse nature to get them excited and invested in your initiative-specific milestones and deadlines.

Answer The Unasked Questions

If you have received positive feedback but still can’t get support for your growth initiative, that’s a sure sign that you’re missing an important detail. To avoid destroying your chances of moving forward with unspoken missteps, ask yourself the following three questions:

1. Are you the right person to lead this effort?

As a driven individual, it’s easy to assume that you are the perfect fit for every idea that you have, but that’s simply not the case. If you have access to experts, you must make use of them. The best person for the job is the best possible person available. And because of your education, background, or current workload, that person simply may not be you.

To make headway with functional leaders, it’s on you to demonstrate that you have the skills to lead this initiative, or to find another person in the organization that is a better fit. You can prove your worth as the champion of this idea by highlighting your expertise and experience within your business case, or you can collaborate with your internal network to identify a better candidate to take the helm.

2. Does this opportunity compete with other priorities?

Senior management is tasked with monitoring and organizing every project and initiative that goes on within your company. If you’re presenting your plan without complete knowledge of all of these initiatives, the odds are very high that your initiative conflicts or competes with other priorities and initiatives. This scenario can easily lead to a brush off of your business plan that appears to be a rejection but is in actuality a conflict of interest.

Once again, a proactive approach is the best one. You must show how your initiative is complementary to your company’s goals by educating yourself about the most recent projects and initiatives and providing a narrative of how your project dovetails with these important efforts.

3. Have you demonstrated a commitment to winning?

Saying, “Yes,” to a new venture is much like shorting a stock. You sign over hard earned money today for the hope of a better future. But you can’t make this decision lightly, or you risk more than you want to. In much the same way, successful companies are not in the business of handing out opportunities freely to any and everyone. Without a proven, established track record or reputation of doing everything it takes to succeed, you may not qualify as an acceptable or appealing risk.

Set the background for your business plan by excelling in all you do. Demonstrate a commitment to winning and communicate these efforts to key decision makers in a factual, non-bragging manner to make it clear that this new initiative is not only a solid business venture but a bet they’ll be commended for taking. Also, take a step back to evaluate your track record honestly. Not everyone can maintain a perfect track record, but winners aren’t perfect– they’re aware, strategic, and driven. Consider how you have reacted when you experience a failure in the workplace, and how can you change your reaction to reflect the confidence and drive of a winner in the future.

Garnering support for your growth initiative and is an important step to take to realize both personal and professional actualization. You help your company generate new business and new revenue while gaining valuable leadership and business experience. If you believe in your plan but aren’t getting the traction you want, get out of your own way by evaluating your environment realistically and answering these unasked questions.