Are you in a job where you feel like you are on the outside-looking in? The big kids are not letting you play in their game because they don’t understand your value. So they haven’t provided you with the secret handshake or password and you can’t get in the door. You are that odd person out, that employee with startup mentality and entrepreneurial mindset, in a status quo corporate infrastructure.
Are you an entrepreneur who has been entering competition after competition and speaking to any and every VC and Angel investor….without overwhelming success? Are you becoming jaded and cynical and frustrated that the big kids are not letting you play in their game because they don’t understand your value?
I’m not proposing to sell yourself out to these folks. It does make sense to understand the context of their decision making process. In order to do that, you might want to take a step back from the situation, and keep stepping back until you have a broader and deeper perspective of the situation than you’ve ever taken before. Take a 10,000 foot eagle’s eye view of the landscape before you signal defeat.
Perhaps you are too short-sighted and tactical when it comes to You.
Inclusion of You into what They have going on may involve risk. So what reward do you offer? What is the relevance of your product, platform, core competencies that provides business value? How does your inclusion in their investment portfolio, on their team, in their social media circle, enhance what is trying to be accomplished? What is your strategic value?
Inclusion of You into what They have going on may move them 1 millimeter outside of their comfort level. Perhaps their platforms and brands have been exquisitely niche-specific. For all of their expertise and reputation in the marketplace, you actually make them a tad uncomfortable. You are disruptive to a tried and true formula that has worked for them. They have their own status quo, even if it’s outside everyone’s box. You are that disruptive element in their comfortable persona. How can you coax them off the ledge of their disruption by demonstrating that you bring hybrid vigor to a stable ecosystem? The last time I checked, the more vigorous a population, the more robust in terms of survival.
Inclusion of You into what They have going on may stretch your limits far beyond what you ever thought your capabilities are. Business development and entrepreneurism isn’t a fairy tale. No one is going to wave a magic wand and cash will be delivered at your door in exchange for pitching. There’s one heck of a lot of work involved, including being all things to all people, at least initially. Not for the weak of heart. Understanding the agendas of the Already Established can expand your own world view and business model, and inspire you to be far more than what you ever thought you could become. They have a lot to teach you. Are you ready to learn?
Inclusion of You into what They have going on involves researching their context and history of decision making, where they all came from, how long they have been doing what they’ve been doing, what is the history of the types of projects funded or their business sweet spots. Do you think as broadly and deeply as they do? Do you factor in from their perspective as well as yours and your professional discipline? Should your eagle’s eye view be increased to, say, 15,000 feet?
Communication is the hallmark of humanity. If you feel like a square peg that doesn’t fit into that round hole, evaluate the situation from all perspectives, not just yours. You will find the answer to their reluctance to let you in.
Then it’s up to You, not Them, to decide whether it’s worth your time to keep beating your head against that proverbial wall.
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, brings entrepreneurial mojo and business- and revenue-producing collaboration and communication tools to small and mid-sized businesses and startups. Download her newest White Paper at her Free Resources Page. She was named one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers 2013. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business? focuses on technical / non-technical collaboration strategies and tools. You can download the first chapter here.