They call them “churn” positions, sales jobs where there is an expectation that most will be unsuccessful. They are horrible places to work and you’ll likely burn out before the end of your first year. I’m going to recommend that you take one of these horrible jobs before you ever think of becoming an entrepreneur.
My first sales job was as a “financial advisor”. I had to take my NASD series 7 and 66 licenses along with the state insurance license, all on my dime. When I completed them and was officially “hired”, I got a bonus to make up for the cost of the licensure. It was an office of around 40 financial advisors, many of whom tried and failed as I was to do as well.
I would love to tell you that I made a fortune and was the best financial advisor that ever existed, but that simply isn’t the case. I was straight out of my college experience and knew next to nothing about finance, I was assured that was alright. I would learn as I sold. That was the key, keep on selling.
We got a list of leads upon our first day on the job, they must have been years old. Every name and number was excruciating to call, hang ups, cuss outs and the “Do Not Call” list had just gone into effect. The goal for the financial firm was for me to grow weary and reach out to family and friends to sell to. Then, upon my departure, they’d pass those accounts to one of the 2% of advisors who survived.
Sounds awful, right? It was. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything in the world.
I learned about every style of management technique. I learned about every type of sales technique, including the smarmiest that I thought were exclusive to used car salespeople. I learned about growing a backbone, communicating and where my ethical boundaries were. Eventually, the morality kicked in and I split.
I had a terrible alpha male leader who ran our office, he was a car salesman with more money. He was abusive, rude and dishonest. He invoked fear. He was everything I hate about managers and I learned what questions to ask to avoid his type in every job interview since.
My direct manager was kind but weak. He was at the disposal of the alpha male office leader and he knew it. He was a ladder climber who, when given the chance, bolted to take his next position. I learned little from him.
I got to see the spectrum of management from overbearing to weak and learned what I didn’t want to be. You can’t be an entrepreneur without a vision of your management style.
Yes, the sales were smarmy, but they did pay for training. I got to take multiple sales courses and half of them weren’t half bad. I learned sales and without the ability to sell, you’ll never have success as an entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur you’ll have to sell to everyone from investors, to partners, to employees; you’ll sell your vision.
I know this may sound like a cliche , but you don’t know your strength until you’ve had it tested. Taking on and attempting to surmount the task ahead of me in my “churn” sales position was a life lesson that I wouldn’t ever give up. I was exhausted, broken, and unrelenting. I learned what I had within me and that I was up for any task.
Take The Job
If you’re going to be an entrepreneur, who cares about your resume anyways? Go for it. Take the horrid sales job. Use it to strengthen your skills and your knowledge, just don’t try to sell crap to your friends and family along the way.
Nick Inglis is the Founder/CEO of LeftGen Information Management Group (InformedIM, SolveIM, ClearIM & AgentIM), an expert on enterprise software, and is the author of the AIIM SharePoint Governance Toolkit. Nick has worked with companies as diverse as Ernst & Young, Shell and Canon. Nick is a SharePointM, ECMs, E20m, & IMCP. Nick is a keynote speaker on the topics of SharePoint, Information Management and Collaborative Technologies.