2017 arrived last week right on schedule, and with it the standard self-analysis that comes with a lifetime of indoctrinated New Year’s cliches. Hard as I try to fight the power, I’m not above the “New Year, New You” hype that account for annual surges in gym memberships and drastic spikes in self-help book sales. We’re such suckers for self-evaluative milestones, present company included. What’s my purpose? How am I doing? Where am I in relation to my goals? As I find myself contemplating these existential questions, this year they have taken on a decidedly more business focused turn.
As an entrepreneur in the tech space, I literally eat off of my ability to set and achieve my business goals. The hustle is real out here. Back in my cubicle days as a Fortune 500 techie, the consequences of not meeting objectives, while stress inducing, were not dire. Falling short of the occasional quarterly goal amounted to little more than a missed opportunity to max out the quarterly bonus or at worst, earning the dreaded “below objectives” rating on the performance evaluation sheet. Today, my brand, my reputation and livelihood are 100 percent dependent on my ability to churn out high-quality results on a consistent basis, no matter what. If I am to continue to grow my start-ups into thriving and successful ventures, having an off day (both literally and figuratively) is a luxury I simply can not afford. The margin for error is zero, and I’m okay with that. I signed up for this life. As my business grows beyond my ability to manage every facet of it, my number one priority is sourcing a team to co-sign on this vision.
I need people – exceptional, self-motivated, smart people who consistently deliver to a standard of excellence. While I’ve been successful in recruiting and onboarding an amazing team of developers and product managers who have met and even surpassed my expectations, I have not had the same success when it comes to staffing sales people. Why? Well, for one, Austin happens to be a mecca for techies and creatives, and with my background in the field, I know exactly what I’m looking for and I can spot it from a mile away. Conversely, when it comes to sales, my lack of experience makes for a poor b.s. meter. I’ve been lured in by some amazing pitches and promising bids that just haven’t panned out. The sales people that I’ve encountered are great at selling me on their desire to join the team, but when it comes to actually showing up for the role…not so much. I have courted, interviewed, and contracted a handful of individuals only to be met with unfortunate performance and disappointing results that ultimately lead to nulled contracts and place me back at square one in a revolving churn of sales sourcing.
As I expand my team to meet growth goals in 2017, the big question for me is: How do I attract and retain solid, reliable sales professionals? This is just one of many rhetorical questions that I intend to explore, in full transparency, as I engage on this journey. If you’re a creative, entrepreneur or techie, then you know that so much of what we do is trial and error, and just learning as we go. That’s what this blog is all about. I welcome your feedback and best practices, and I invite you to learn from my experiences, blunders and successes, in real time, as we meet here weekly. Stay tuned!
Also published on Medium.