ABC’s of Island entrepreneurship
Business on P.E.I. moves in ebbs and flows like the tides surrounding our shores. And as tempos of change drift through North American business culture, the vernacular and approaches also splash into Island boardrooms and cubicles.
For anyone observing the Island business landscape, local entrepreneurs have been very successful. In fact, over the course of the last few years many of our local start-ups have been acquired fully or invested in by entities foreign to our province. This has created opportunity and wealth, but also a loss of local autonomy and control.
Well-intended agencies, such as the Startup Zone, have liberally seeded and fertilized the entrepreneurial soil and new batches of companies are sprouting and flourishing. A renewal process that organically replaces the organizations which have prospered and been culled.
I came across an article this week that spoke to the atmosphere of mechanically scripted start-up environments and the optimistic jargon that fills corridors and enthusiastic business models. “Disruptive, Investable, First-Mover, Elevator-Pitch, Seed-Round” — all important concepts but many missing the fundamental qualities of a successful business, and the success factors that local exiting entrepreneurs possessed.
To recalibrate and ground my focus, I returned to a classic cinematic moment that underscored the fundamental of success. An oration of such fervor that it may appear as a Saturday Night Live parody to young impressionable start-up aspirants. Without the fundamental of sales, or sales prospect, no idea is really “investable” because investors demand investment return.
ABC! For those familiar with the 1992 film “Glengarry Glen Ross” about a sales-focused real estate firm, one of the strongest moments is the dressing down from an unscripted Alec Baldwin: “Always be closing.”
It is a direct, and crushingly delivered, sales beratement that demonstrates in business, sales are essential or achieve the alternative – failure. This classic video clip is a reminder that without the execution of sales, there is no business. A decade later another film captured the enthusiasm of the 2000s era, “Boiler Room.”Ben Affleck also provided an emotional and motivational sales closing monologue. These should be standard course curriculum for all startup entrepreneurs.
Both these tirades are hard to watch for most people, but motivational to business owners and entrepreneurial participants. Sales are what drive the economy, not ideas or pre-revenue concepts. Education on share structures or tax avoidance are irrelevant at a start-up stage. Formative organization, business plan generation and of course sales execution are the foundations necessary for success.
An Alec Baldwin delivery would probably frighten many start-up entrepreneurs, so that approach may be a little harsh. The concept of sales focus, soft skill training and relationship management are the fundamentals absent from educational institutions and startup training.
The ABC’s of sales and sales management are critical and necessary skills that need to be introduced early.