I got some new business cards recently. They are nice, if not a little anachronistic. I have 1000 of them. I rarely hand them out. But, my kids are enjoying playing with them. My 11 year old picked one up, and said, “You are the CEO. Does that mean, like, you are the boss?” I responded, “Yeah, Q, that does mean that I am the boss.”
But as I started to reflect on what I really do as the CEO of Adchemix, I am totally not “the boss” in that captain of industry, autocratic way my son might think. I might change my title, at least in my own head, from Chief Executive Officer, to Chief SELLING Officer. Because what I really do all day is sell.
I have a lot of sales targets. I don’t track them in Salesforce or anything. The most important selling I do happens pretty close to home:
- ME: My first sales target was (and continues to be) me. I started with selling myself on starting a company. In some respects, convincing myself that I should was easy. But if you look into the eyes of any founder, you look into the soul of their very best sales target. Regardless of how convinced they are that their idea is phenomenal, every day they have to sell themselves on the idea that they are the one to lead the charge. Trust me, they all do it, every day. Wake up, convince yourself that you deserve another day at the helm, and start kicking some ass. Selling yourself is really hard. You carry baggage, you carry fear, you carry responsibilities, you carry dreams – that sale needs to be made each and every day.
- SAM: Then I needed to sell my co-founder on the idea of jumping in on my concept. That was a hard sale. Not because Sam was unwilling or overly cautious, but because I needed to sell him on the idea that I was the right partner, with the right idea at the right time. Now, honestly, entrepreneurs are a pretty optimistic bunch, and consequently, I think we are pretty easily sold. We see opportunity everywhere. Sam was no different. But that is a sale that took gumption on my part and faith on his. The difficult thing about this sale is that it never ends. Every day, I need to re-close this sale, and Sam has to sign up again. We are going on on our 372nd sale. So far, so good.
- SPOUSE: This, too, is a sale that needs to be made every day. I need to be able to look at my wife and convince her that this is the right path. She needs to understand that this dream of mine is a dream for us. I think the entreprenuer’s spouse or significant other shares our optimistic outlook. When I tell her that revenue is headed up, she believes me. But regardless of her willingness to be part of this process, I need to continually reinforce the value proposition of the unstable nature of startups. Now, honestly, my wife is as big a part of Adchemix as anyone, and her buy-in is really high, but everyday, I feel like I need to prove the value of what we are doing.
- COMPANY: Yeah, this sounds funny, but you need to sell your own company to your own employees every day. You need to sell the mission, the tactics, the direction, the fun, the joy, the fear…You need to sell it every day to everyone who relies on you to feed their families. This is your most important audience. Because without their buy in, your company fails. Your employees are your MOST important audience every day.
- CUSTOMERS: This is pretty obvious, but you need to sell customers to get business, and also to keep business heading in the right direction. Lots of folks talk about this, but as an entrepreneur, you should know that no business is ever safe. You need to reinforce your value proposition to your clients every single time you speak with them.
- INVESTORS/BANKERS: This is an easy one. They have the money. You need to sell them on your business, its potential, and YOU.
So, that is what I do all day. And while I might sell like a boss, the CEO isn’t the boss – the CEO is in charge of selling – at least this one is…