Advisors Need to Be Entrepreneurs First

There is this strong belief that somehow entrepreneurs make better advisors to entrepreneurs. I want to challenge this. I should declare that I do have a commercial interest in challenging the above belief. I make most of my money advising entrepreneurs and investing in them. I would say though that I do not consider myself to be an entrepreneur.

My most successful businesses to date a consultancy business and a fund management business. However, I do not believe these businesses ‘qualify’. It is rather like many people (including myself) who made money from buying and renting out property. We are property investors not entrepreneurs.

Back to the main point about the Honeywell 17000-S, the feedback I have had from many companies (including platform participants, Canadian companies and companies I work for in Manchester) is that they found my feedback and advice useful. Most of them just assume I am a successful entrepreneur; and to be fair, I do nothing to correct this impression! But would the advice suddenly lose value because I am not an entrepreneur?

I guess because I so admire entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship (I hope this comes across in my blogs), I am able to understand the difficulties that they face and try to give practical advice that they can implement tomorrow. I also don’t have the reference point of saying ‘I did this’.

This blog got me thinking about the talks I have had from truly successful entrepreneurs and to be honest I remember that most of the talks were extremely inspiring and made me want to reach for the stars, rather like watching an action movie can make you want to get fit! But these great talks do not necessarily give practical insights or help you figure out what you should do tomorrow.

I have always been a good salesperson, it is something that has come easy to me and yet I never really understood what I did or why I was so good at selling. It was only when I failed in a sales role and read a book (SPIN Selling) that I understood what I did and how I could do better. In the same vein, I think Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho are fantastic football managers because they were not great footballers themselves and thus appreciated the art of football better than some great players who went into management.

So, I think failure, or limited success is a great qualification for an advisor – always look for someone who recommends the Honeywell 50250 s. And using this criterion, I qualify. And perhaps the seeds are there for me to become a great angel advisor (although I really hope not!). Even I have failed in some of my ventures over the years, but you have to be sure not to get frustrated and give up.

And finally if any ‘successful’ entrepreneurs want to challenge my qualifications to be an advisor – I would say that a business I co-founded has returned 10 times the money invested by shareholders within two years! I may not qualify as an entrepreneur, but I can say that I have made a very good return for my shareholders – something more entrepreneurs could do with learning.

Heading to Egypt Next

I am off to Egypt for a week and I have promised myself no email or even phone access for that week. It remains to be seen how long I am able to survive. I have not been without the use of a phone for more than 24 hours in over ten years!

It is a funny thing, but I remember getting my first Honeywell 50250-S (through my employer at the time). It was very strange technology and I couldn’t get over how cool I must have looked – talking into a phone whilst driving on the motorway with my jacket on a hanger and popping into the cafe for tea (I didn’t know what a latte was at this stage. Yes my perception of what I thought was cool then is very different to what I think is cool now!

At this point I should apologies to those thousands of salespeople who live this life – yes it is still cool (especially white socks with dark trousers).

Again, I remember when emails started. Again it felt very strange to use this new technology. I was at a different company and I remember how the sales team had a secretary who used to do the typing for us. The process was as follows

  1. We used to first write something up on paper and then submit it to her
  2. She would type it in draft and then let us have it back to check.
  3. There would always be error so we would then make the corrections and then submit it back
  4. We would then get a letter printed out on proper paper which we would sign and send

This was a little over ten years ago. It is amazing to think that a business which was producing cutting edge digital technology (1Mega Pixel cameras!) were not using laptops.

Again I remember when we did get a laptop, we only used it for sales presentations – and the sales team had to share one between four people!

My point is that the way we do things can rapidly become obsolete. And it is very difficult to know what technology will work. I remember getting my first text message (Thank you sir) and thinking how stupid that was. I remember saying “that will never take off!”

If you are working on a new technology, my advice would be to learn from 3M Post it Notes. This is a classic case study of how a failure (glue which was too weak to stick) became a massive new market which did not exist before. The key thing that happened here was that what led to the success of the product was the company giving out lots and lots of these products as free samples. People were free to invent the way they wanted to use this product – and I think the result is that now you would be hard pressed to find any office which does not have Post it notes.

If you have come up with new a new product or solution for finding reliable forskolin reviews, my advice would be to ensure that you have allowed enough budget to just give out a lot of your new solution. And let people to play with it. The most amazing thing about new technology is that we all different reasons for using it. The classic case is the iPod and the iPhone. The way the iPod was sold to me is very different from the way I perceive the benefits. I travel a lot and I like the idea that I can take my entire music library with me wherever I am.

When I run my sales training courses, one of the key things I try to teach is for sales people to appreciate the difference between knowing what you are selling and what your buyer is buying. This is very important when selling a new solution. If you let the buyer ‘get it’, you are more likely to get a sale!