Monday, October 29, 2007

Your Hard is Another's Easy

Entrepreneurs are often very independent. You generally don’t choose the risks and pains of starting a company unless you’re pretty dead set against having a boss tell you what to do. But don’t let this independence blind you to other perspectives.

I recently worked with a great team of young entrepreneurs. They had done a phenomenal job of building a product that their customers loved, but were having problems figuring out how to sell it to big companies.

Off the top of my head, I ticked off the usual things you need to make an enterprise sale: analyst coverage, trade press, white papers, case studies, etc. They were amazed, because trying to figure out this world had been so difficult for them.

The key to remember is that your hard is another’s easy. Maybe you’re great at programming, but you think “the revenue thing” is a dark and somewhat sinister mystery. To a business guy, it’s a simple matter of selling a product to the same customers that he’s sold to for decades.

That doesn’t mean that the business guy is any smarter or more capable, just that he has different skills and experiences. Remember, to a business guy, extreme programming is what you call it when coders drink Mountain Dew and code while skydiving.

The ideal path is neither the arrogance of believing that what you do is more important, or the cringing self-flagellation of always looking to others for approval. Focus on doing the things that others find hard, but you find easy, and find partners who can do the things that you find hard.

2 comments:

Tim Taylor said...

One of the tricky parts of this is that a pre-requisite of what you suggests is the destruction of ego. I see it, regularly, with entrepreneurs who think they can do more than what they can do.

Even if they bring someone in who can do it for them, they still don't see it. And, unfortunately, as success starts to hit the streets (via coverage or white papers or investor momentum, etc.) the ego gets stoked even more.

The very best leaders I've met are the ones who are humble enough to know what they don't know and confident enough to ask someone to do it for them.

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