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Tips for an ESD Practitioner and Entrepreneurs

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Many of my clients ask me about my learning as an ESD practitioner.  Below I have listed some of the top 5 tips for those in the field.  Working in the ESD space I have to constantly remind myself about these areas and get my mindset right.  If you find yourself in the role of an ESD practitioner then hang on to this, you will learn more about business and politics in a shorter period of time, than in many other roles.

It takes a company to develop a company

What is your job description? “I develop companies”, I hear you say  – Think again.  As a young Enterprise and Supplier Development practitioner I thought I was the responsible person for developing suppliers.  What I should have realised is that our company was responsible for developing Suppliers.  You need to get the buy in of your procurement department, your end users, your MD, your Finance Manager and in some cases even the Business Development Support provider that you pay. Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it will take various resources in your company to develop a supplier.

Hey Wena – this is not your company!

Altruistic intentions are for nurses and missionaries.  High growth entrepreneurial businesses are not there because they want to create a better world.  Yes – this might be the byproduct of the process, but good Entrepreneurs are those that follow the money and do so responsibly.  You are not the CEO of the company that you want to develop, and as such, you can only facilitate.  Yes, an entrepreneur will respond to your suggestions after seeing your Enterprise Development budget, but unfortunately this will not lead to a sustainable business.  Keep on acting like you are the CEO of your supplier company and you might find yourself doing business with a shell in two years’ time.

Have you considered a career in sales?

Developing companies is one small part of the picture and you might not even be directly responsible for this.  Your biggest task will be sales.  You will be selling to the procurement department, selling to end users, selling to the board and selling to your manager.  Once you have sold the why you can then start selling the how.  In most cases you will be involved in the most difficult sales process – selling a concept rather than a tangible product or service. Think about it – a career in sales, now doesn’t that sound attractive?

A skilled person does not make a company

A highly skilled person is a highly skilled person, not a potential company.  Developing suppliers is not like cooking.  You don’t add one skilled artisan, one skilled entrepreneur, throw in a pinch of start-up funding, add a contract for seasoning and out comes one successful business. Rather consider the companies that are already in business and have made or even lost some money.  Now were talking Entrepreneurship!

You work for a boss, who works for a boss, who works for a boss…

As an ESD practitioner the chances are high that you work in a corporate company.   If you cannot create the link between your objectives and ROI for shareholders, then get ready to be called into the next round of budget cuts.  If you know what that link is develop it into a 2 minute elevator speech.  Once you have done this then start frequenting the elevator… or consider a career in sales.