Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Real entrepreneurship and networking

Hi everyone,

I thought it would be nice to send you an update on my progress and daily activities given I am now an entrepreneur again. How much more 'back to basics' could it be?

Well.. here's the low-down:

After registering my company, receiving the tax forms, launching my website, opening a Twitter account, updating my blog and printing business cards, it seemed all the work was done, right? Wrong! This is where it starts!

Too often, I run into people that are busy with the above and think they will be making money as soon as their business is up and running. The question of course is, what is our definition of up and running? Sending invoices for services delivered and collecting money from those invoices. THAT is when a company is up and running.

In other words: I'm just getting started. I am very busy, don't get me wrong. Another misconception for being 'up and running'. Being busy means nothing unless it means working on either getting clients or doing business for clients. This exactly what I am doing now.

Funny how it always comes back to sales: Identifying your anticipated core group of potential clients, formulating your business pitch and going at it!

From the start, I have been working on setting up my prospect list, and a list of people or companies that can help me find clients (by proxy). In the past 6 weeks I have been calling those people to get appointments and introduce myself, and to discuss if and how we see fit for my business offering.

As a result, although still in the early stages, I have accepted an assignment as CEO for an e-commerce start-up called Traffical. (

This awesome Blackberry application allows one to automatically generate your estimated travel time by car (based on historical data and some complex algorithms) when booking a meeting in your agenda.
The application then books the travel time so that others, like your assistant, know that you will not be available for other (physical) meetings or, alternatively, are available for a phone call (while in your car) during that time.
In addition, 90 minutes before your suggested time of departure, Traffical periodically (every 10 minutes) checks actual traffic information for congestions and alerts you ahead of time if you need to leave earlier to be able to make it to your appointment on time.

Isn't that great? Now who would not want to spend less time in traffic if you can avoid it?
Obviously, we are aiming at (large) enterprises with many mobile professionals that run into traffic all the time and hope to save them time, money and hassle. I have now connected with companies like Vodafone, KPN, KPMG, PWC, and others to explain our application and see if there's a fit.

While the group of investors in this start-up already is very reputable and certainly makes my life easier opening doors for Traffical, I now meet or speak with new people every day, which, in turn, opens up discussions about my company Salesguru and my company's offering - which in turn leads to more conversations about sales training, coaching or business development advise.

This is my version of networking on the go. I don't lose as much time now as I do with a beer in my hand at a social networking event in some bar (although entertaining).
In fact, I am actually doing business, while doing some prospecting at the same time.
Great combination! However, I had to build up my social and professional network to get there - and have actively been building this for the past decade and more. It takes time to connect with people and become effectiver at it.

If you are working on a start-up, and haven't (yet) built a large network, I recommend digging into and attending some of the business events in your neighbourhood. Spend some time going out and meeting new people, but always try to make combinations in your mind as to how you could fit into their business, or perhaps solve some of your conversation partner's business problems.

In addition, and perhaps even more important, always try to figure out if you can help someone without charging them for it. Maybe you know someone that could help them, or have a contact that might be interested in their services. Not charging them for it makes you a good person to be in contact with, not so much a philantropist that -therefore- never makes any money. Remember: what goes around comes around. You should not expect to get anything in return, but in many cases you will.

Open Coffee is one of those initiatives, but there are many breakfast tables, business round tables or other types of meet-ups that allow you to do the above. All of a sudden, opportunities will present themselves at you. As a matter of fact, this week I was invited to be in an interview with Traffic Radio this Friday afternoon at 4pm. Obviously, I hope to get some airtime to explain both the ins and outs of Traffical as well as Salesguru NL.

Go out and meet people, enhance your social and business network at the same time! It is really much, much easier to call someone you have met before or have some connection with than calling them out of the blue without any personal connection or reference.
Plus, you might make some new friends while doing it!

Happy selling!


PS My apologies for the shameless commercial plugging.
PPS If you have any questions about Traffical, please e-mail me at

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