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Developing business ideas for drone technologies
Developing business ideas for drone technologies

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4.1 Internal and external stakeholders

When you start to identify stakeholders for your business idea, you can think of them in two different but related ways: internal and external stakeholders, and primary and secondary stakeholders.

The first is to think about internal and external stakeholders, an approach more easily applied to organisations. Internal stakeholders would include shareholders, employees, managers and board members of an organisation. External stakeholders are then all those stakeholders that sit outside an organisation, such as customers, competitors, regulators, creditors and local communities (see Figure 15, adapted from Hill et al., 2020).

Internal and external stakeholders that are able to influence an organisation
Figure 15 Stakeholders and the organisation

In Figure 15, you can see that two-way relationships exist between stakeholders and organisations that are based on contributions (to the organisation) and influence (by the organisation). Applying this approach for stakeholders of a business idea, you can identify what stakeholders might contribute to the idea (or indeed how they might influence it), and what stakeholders your idea might influence (or contribute to, such as other organisations). Because stakeholders often bring necessary resources (ideas, funds, and other inputs) to your business or future business, it is important you maintain smooth relations. Oftentimes stakeholders may have conflicting demands. For example, suppliers may increase prices for inputs, and this may increase prices for customers. For this reason, understanding stakeholder perspectives is an essential part of getting an idea successfully off the ground.

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Stakeholder impact can vary widely. Some stakeholders can wield a significant amount of power in how you shape and develop your idea. For example, obtaining licensing for drone pilots can be very expensive, especially when combined with liability insurance and seeking legal advice (Carli et al., 2023).

Internal stakeholders, too, can exert powerful influences over the development of your business idea. Business partners, investors and employees may have important perspectives you’ll need to consider when developing your idea. Indeed, often stakeholders are essential contributors. These can range from ‘sponsors’, for example funders or managers who control resources, to ‘users’ (Horton & Pilkington, 2014), which can include customers. Many successful business ideas will engage with customers or users of a service at the design stage to make sure that the product or service meets their expectations.

How then do you prioritise which stakeholders are the most important for your project? In the next section, you’ll look at how you can identify ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ stakeholders.