We recently commissioned some research to get insight into the portrait of a successful business founder in UK. The operative word here is “successful” – we only surveyed businesses that had successfully been in operations for over five years, therefore cutting the wheat from the chaff and ensuring our results weren’t skewed by business failures – after all, start-up failure rates are still at 50% in the first couple of years.
So we only concerned ourselves with businesses that has passed the three-year start-up curse; we were keen to know whether there were any commonalities in terms of age, gender and job experience – what type of person would be most likely to succeed if they went solo?
Here’s where we uncovered something interesting – both sexes had something in common; they mostly hailed from a career in sales. Nearly two in five (42%) men came from MD positions and 29% of had career history in sales. 71% of the women came mid/ senior management positions, with a quarter (25%) working in sales.
Personally, I don’t find these results surprising. When it comes to building a successful business, selling is an invaluable skill. A great idea for a product or service means nothing if you cant get anyone to buy it.
Selling does not come easily to everyone – it’s a skill that is often misunderstood and can always be improved. From working in sales you’ll know many of the pitfalls and techniques that can hugely impact whether you close or go home empty handed. Think about the average entrepreneur; they often have no idea what mistakes lie ahead, which is why their first encounter with prospecting can feel like a baptism of fire.
So remember, as a salesperson, you have an innate advantage if you decide to go it alone. You already possess a wealth of knowledge that can help you leapfrog other startup founders. With that in mind, if the opportunity presents itself don’t hold back – the odds are stacked firmly in your favour!
By Shaun Thomson, CEO of Sandler Training in the UK, on of the UK’s leading sales, management and leadership training organisation.