Entrepreneurs are nothing if not genuine. It’s one of the reasons I love the company of entrepreneurs. Our motives tend to be clear and straightforward, and the most typical way an entrepreneur gets what she wants is by heading straight for it.
I had the privilege of spending a lot a time with a young entrepreneur whose business is rocketing last week. I noticed how different types of meetings, in quick succession, called for three different facets of her personality and engagement styles.
- Potential investor meetings. Since the company is venture backed, it will likely continue to raise capital. In investor meetings, the investors responded best to sales-aggressive but risk-managed language. They didn’t enjoy general questions about entrepreneurship, talking strategy, or hearing about slightly zany-but-still-successful exploits. They did not particularly want to share their own challenges (nor really hear ‘too many’ of hers). It was pretty clear the facet of the entrepreneur they wanted to relate to was simply understanding how the business makes money, and avoids risk. This style of interaction can be tough facet for the entrepreneurial personality to master, but it’s important.
- Potential partner meetings. This is another meeting where the facet of upside has to be clearly on the table. Partners are a broad category–from potential vendors/suppliers, to trade organizations, to potential hires. This type of audience the entrepreneur has to master tends to want to come to an understanding, be heard and appreciated for what they offer, and move on. Key facets for the entrepreneur to focus on are her reliability, history of stability, history of other successful relationships like the one being proposed, and agreeing. Again, this is not necessarily an easy “mode” for the native entrepreneur, but it’s an important one.
- Sales meetings. This mode is where most, but certainly not all, entrepreneurs shine. Successful entrepreneurs have to be able to sell their product, but even more importantly as they grow, be able to reverse engineer why clients buy so that others can learn to sell and the entrepreneur isn’t the company’s top sales engine. This requires a fast growing entrepreneur to not only sell, but also learn to watch themselves selling, so they can hire and train sales. Not an easy mode to master.
What other distinct modes of engagement to successful entrepreneurs have to master?