From the community

Recalculating Route

Posted Feb. 09, 2012, at 7:02 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 10, 2012, at 9:45 a.m.

STATEWIDE — We all have the experience of driving somewhere with our GPS navigator and missing a turn and hearing the dreaded “recalculating route”. This is not the end of the world because your navigator will soon get you back on track to your goal.

Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart and we all realize this. But taking a wrong turn or two is not the end of the world. With your mentors, business advisers, employees and professional consultants you can always get back on track by recalculating your trajectory.

I got that “recalculating route” voice in my head this week. While doing the reading before our Top Gun class…. (think of Top Gun as getting a MBA in 6 months while you are actively trying to run or start a business) I realized that I was potentially putting our business into a sales box. The topic was a blog post by a 5 time entrepreneur and now Venture Capitalist, David Skok. He wrote a blog on “How Sales Complexity impacts your Startup’s Viability” (www.forentrepreneurs.com/sales-complexity/)

The blog post involved how the more complex your sales process from the no touch website that people buy product off the internet or all the way to outside sales forces that require sales representatives to fly all over the world you have to understand the cost of Customer Acquisition (CAC) . The internet sales business model is the cheapest while the outside sales force is the most expensive often costing over 100,000 in sales cost to get a single customer.

While I am a Sustainability Engineer by degree and spent a good part of my career as an Architectural Designer I have also spent extensive time as a Sales Manager of outside (field) sales forces in the construction and design industry. With that history and the confidence in being able run field sales forces, I was unconsciously pushing our company, Introspective Systems, toward a large sales business model. (500 thousand to million dollar account). But for a start-up this is fraught with danger. If you don’t get that big sale you run the risk of running out of cash. My ideas may have worked but this blog and others of similar direction have gotten me to step back and “recalculate” my assumptions about the sales process.

This is what I am learning at Top Gun look at everything even your most closely held beliefs. This is a lesson that every business person in Maine should take to heart. It could be new competition, a growth opportunity, a product launch failure…. Whatever it is be ready and open to recalculating route.

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