Sunday, August 12, 2012

Entrepreneurship, Not for Everyone, Salesmanship Is for Everyone

It may be because of where and with whom I hang out, but these days Entrepreneurship seems to be the magic word of the day. Policy makers and economists tell us that with more of it the country will be more competitive, jobs will be created, we will stand up to China, we'll fix the national debt, we'll have a credible national medical insurance, etc. If only we had a Steve Jobs at every corner, the American Dream will be assured. It is all true, but it does not follow that it is true for all.

The message to high school and college grads these days seems to be: it's easy, be an entrepreneur, be a Jobs, or a Zuckerberg, or a Gates,  have an idea and make it a Google. All true and as possible like winning Olympic medals, entering the NBA, winning the lottery, but let's be honest with the youngsters who struggle with figuring out how make a living for their future.  The odds of all of that are pretty low and it takes much more than an idea.

To keep the discussion short, I developed the roadmap below as a way to look at the principles and the details of what I think is in play. As in some of my other posts, I try to synthesize the issues and the logical relationships to be considered to reach a clearer understanding.  The objective is to not waste energy in impossible quests (see "Working Backwards" and "Angelcalc" for when not to bother seeking funding from angel investors, or "Should I Get a Patent?", etc.)

This roadmap, as in other cases has no absolute answers or recommended solutions, only considerations to be explored and used in seeking a best answer for oneself (notice ONEself not ALLself). 

One, and only one of many conclusions, is that a temperament for risk-taking is mandatory for entrepreneurship. Salesmanship on the other hand is a skill fundamental to entrepreneurship, BUT also applicable to all other activities in human activity and commerce.

So, the question for which unfortunately I have no answer is: Why salesmanship is not a primary skill taught at all high schools, colleges and graduate schools?  Why as a society we leave it to Xerox, IBM, Proctor & Gamble and similar companies or to multi-level marketing companies to impart that training with a planned and focused process?  The Introduction to Dale Carnegie 's How to Make Friends and Influence People pointed out that tragic circumstance decades ago.  Why are we still at the same point?
Why is it so hard to find a high school or college grad with even only a cursory idea of how to sell an honest product to a respected customer that has a need?
Perhaps it is time for some bright entrepreneur to design and roll out an effective online sales training program for all those recent grads that are not finding the job they trained for or the countless unemployed displaced by technological change.

Marco Messina