SURVIVING IN A START UP

 
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Imagine working at a business where logic is non-existent and leadership is just a buzz word. Where micromanagement is a favorite past time and some rinky-dink sales manager threatens you with your job on a near-hourly basis. Where your VP of Sales watches your every move from a mobile robot because it’s “fun.” Where morale goes to die…

Actually, anyone that’s worked in a start up venture probably knows that feeling all too well. Sad to say that my experience in a start up was none too different.

I spent nearly two years of my young career surviving in a local online technology start up that focused in Email Marketing and Reputation Management. (Due to a Gag Order, I will not mention the name of this company.) It was my job to grow the company’s Reseller Partner Program. That means, I had to contact professionals like advertising & marketing agencies, marketing consultants, sales advisors, graphic designers, web designers and convince them that:

  1. Our product was better than any software with which they currently worked
  2. Our tools would provide them with more ways to make money
  3. Our software was “state-of-the-art” and “the next level” of Email Marketing, with more features, functions and sending success than any other company

In essence, I became one amazing bullshitter. After all, that’s what sales is… Hot air with the slight scent of bull shit. Every day, the lies piled on. In all honesty, our product had more flaws than most, the revenue share for partners was less than or equal to other programs, and our sending success (aka deliverability rate) wasn’t any better than the industry standard of 70%+.

Despite our technological limitations, I still grew that program by leaps and bounds. In one year, BJC, and only BJC, was responsible for over 400% growth in the partner division. I was successful in “sourcing” more than 100 partners from Constant Contact and others like iContact, MyEmma, and AWeber. (Funny thing is I’m now a partner of Constant Contact!)

When I started, we had 15 active partners, and when I was all done, we were well over 400 active partners. Each active partner had an average of 3-5 clients, so our program had attracted over 1,200 paying clients. The program’s growth was thanks in large part to my marketing campaigns, consultative sales approach, and ability to speed dial the client services department when a pissed off partner was on the line. Even the disgruntled partners loved me – just look at BJC Branding’s REVIEWS!

All that being said, I hated my job. Each day was more miserable than the last. It was really a catch-22 in that I had to convince these professionals to work with my product, but I didn’t believe in my product at all. I’d always justify it by telling myself, “I’ve got bills to pay and a life to live.” Trust me, that self affirmation only works for so long.

Finally, as I watched my close friends and co-workers get the axe right before New Years 2011, I decided it was time for BJC to move on. I’d done what I came to do, and the numbers spoke for themselves. Why sell a defunct product to businesses in need, when I could find the right products and solutions for businesses and help put money in both of our pockets? With that, I left the start up and began BJC Branding.

We just celebrated our official 1 year anniversary at BJC Branding, and I couldn’t be happier. No more phony leadership, no more job threats, no more robot espionage; just good ol’ BJC helping his clients grow.

 
Jake Burns