Sunday, 10 February 2008

Stating the bleeding obvious

Stating the blindingly obvious is something which can get you a long way in business. Before anyone gets worried that I'm talking about them, relax, your cover is safe, this is a general post.
I wrote a while ago about the channel in the UK, something which Americans seem to struggle with, hell, the English seem to struggle with it too, it's not that simple. The basic premise of the channel in the UK is that companies on the West Coast of the US who do not have a presence in the UK can ship out some kit to our little island, maybe spend some time training up a few engineers and Bob's your Uncle, a ready made sales and engineering force exists in a new region. Of course it's never that simple, if you don't watch the channel a bit more closely it dries up and withers.

I wrote even more recently that it would be a good business proposition to start a company which watched a number of these US companies on behalf of the US side as they were positioned in UK distributors and resellers. Indeed I may still do it one day, when I get the time and the job offers dry up.

In the meantime I'm enjoying where I am, very successful and very lucrative, especially when we're selling so much. A friend who I used to work with as an SE, and now occupies a management position at a previous company (on the West Coast) just wrote to me saying:

I've found that most venture-backed small companies have two common traits:

- they don't promote from within since they have a addiction to hiring someone who's "done it before." Unfortunately, this practice often results in hiring someone who did it once out of sheer luck and can never repeat his/her success.

- they have a very difficult time accepting the thought that a remote employee can contribute in any way other than field sales. Even if you can convince them otherwise you are then fighting a constant battle to be included in decision-making...out of sight; out of mind.
Ouch. I guess I knew all of this though. It's true to say that I'll never be in upper management at any US based company, that would, after all, be silly, based from my house in Winchester, Hampshire, UK. Maybe I'll never be someone who did it once out of sheer luck on the US side, but if/when I am one on this side of the pond, I can see a lot more business coming my way. In fact, I have a steady stream of jobs coming my way just for being in the right business.

However, if you are one of the guys on the West Coast thinking that you don't need anything other than field sales, be very careful, this is very short-sighted. Personally speaking I get to have a huge say in decision making. I am included in Product Management, in fact they go out of their way to have a call with me at a different time every week so they are getting proper regional feedback. I am included in Sales decisions because I have to know what's going on in my region. In short, I'm not used as a tool, but a self governing part of the whole. Currently.

I'm pretty pleased about where I am at present, and I think it will take me to new levels both within the company and in terms of reputation. Then of course I have a ready made business plan just waiting for me.

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