Guess what skill is most often missing that dooms the greatest number of startups. Ironically, it’s the same critical skill that is generally not taught in entrepreneurial schools. It’s the same skill that drives business, provides the feedback, and improves the product. Give up? It Sales! Not sales management, not sales analysis, not sales projection, but how to get from “Get-out-of-my-office” to “I’ll-take-3-truckloads!”
We have spoken at more than 50 schools that teach entrepreneurship. We found only one, the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater, that included real sales training in their entrepreneurship curriculum. How come?
During the 2009 Great Recession, the business school grads couldn’t get a job. Entry level positions in middle management were the first to go. And now these business schools, adept at creating C-suiters, were beginning to lose their purpose. But then they thought, “Well if our grads can’t find a job, maybe we can teach them how to create their own jobs!”
So, they reasoned, “Entrepreneurship? That’s the same as business, isn’t it?” And who in the school knew the most about business? The business school, of course. And the business schools stepped right up to the plate and taught what they thought entrepreneurs needed: a good business education.
A good business education is always welcome in any established business. But what about a startup? How does a good business education differ from a good entrepreneurship education?
Your ability to write a business plan, read a set of financials, make projections, or do analysis is a real plus, but only if you have sales! The business schools will also teach you how to get your idea financed, how to read a term sheet, and how to share your equity. You will be prepared to establish a burn rate (of someone else’s money) to pay for overhead and production, even without sales – for a while!
In The Barefoot Startup, we believe that sales is the best alternative to trading your equity for outside funding. We believe the day you open your business, your cashflow report takes the driver’s seat and most of the stuff they taught you, including the business plan, takes the back seat. We believe in being resourceful and postponing capital outlays for production, salaries, and offices until they are justified by sales.
So, for The Barefoot Startup, sales is king! That’s why we recommend courses that will help you build relationships, including psychology, philosophy, social studies, history, religions of the world, composition, critical thinking and communication. It is also why we recommend starting small and learning from your mistakes.
There’s nothing like being told by a buyer that your product stinks and why. It’s heartbreaking, sobering, but ultimately powerful. Because now you know what you have to do to make that sale. What if you put sales off because you were funded and still had some bucks left to burn? What if you scaled fast without knowing what your customers really wanted, or what it was going to cost you to support your sales? What if you invested in a ton of hard assets that were draining your funds every month but weren’t performing?
Startup entrepreneurship is not a middle management entry level position! It’s a real hot seat where you must make sales or go bankrupt! So why not focus on sales and the skills required to make them happen faster than you run out of money? Why not focus on how to be resourceful so you can reduce your need for capital in the first place? All this and more The Barefoot Startup teaches.
Most businesses fail in the first two years. Why? “We ran out of money,” or “We lost our funding,” you may hear them say. But the real reason is simple: they just didn’t have the sales required to stay in business!
We want to change all that with a different, slower, but more sustainable approach to starting your business. It worked for us, and it can work for you! Check it out for yourself at The Barefoot Startup.