Ask anyone why small businesses fail and you may get multiple answers. But one reason you’ll hear over and over is: cash flow. Many small businesses fail because the owner simply runs out of cash.
The business wasn’t inherently a bad idea. The product wasn’t terrible. The owner wasn’t incompetent. In the end, what mattered most was whether the business had enough money to weather the lean times, let alone grow.
And that brings me to the one skill that every business owner needs to deal with cash flow: the ability to sell. In fact, this skill is important for a business’s very survival.
The crucial skill of selling
The crucial skill every business owner needs is the ability to bring money in the door. In short, it really comes down to your selling skill.
You’ve probably heard the old saying, “Nothing happens until someone sells something.” It applies even more starkly to a small business because small organizations often lack the established “selling machine” that large enterprises are fortunate to have.
In small businesses, you may not have sales managers, experienced sales representatives, or a large established customer base you can count on to renew. Instead, you may have to scratch for every sale. Often the owner “carries a bag” for sales and may have only the support of an inexperienced or part-time sales team.
The ability to sell makes all the difference when it comes to achieving your dreams of growth. Even if you don’t start off with this ability, focusing on sales can be the difference between a business living and dying.
Many of us dislike selling
Speaking as a business owner, many of us are not natural salespeople. Let’s face it: we got into business in the first place because we wanted to do what we love. For many of us, that’s not selling.
In fact, some of us may hate selling. At the very least, we see selling as a weakness in our skills.
In 2002, John Warrillow wrote a ground-breaking book called Drilling for Gold. In it, he identified behavioral factors that motivate small business owners.
A full 74 percent of small business owners, he wrote at the time, are “craftspeople.” Craftspeople, he said, are “so named because mastering their particular craft motivates them … They think of themselves in the context of their particular skill or services: as jewelers, plumbers, and photographers.”
It’s no surprise that a software company founder might choose to code rather than cold call prospects. An independent fashionista might wish to design and create handmade fashions than work with customers. A self-employed author often prefers writing over selling books.
After all, we love our craft, and that’s why we got into business in the first place.
But being able to sell is what’s going to help you realize your entrepreneurial dream. If you want your dream to be a reality, you’re going to have to be able to sell something not just create it.