Aside from some workshops, legal help, exposure to venture capitalists (and other such influential people), and while I was super excited to be chosen as a fellow, I didn't see what was coming.
My business partner and I have the eternal chasm that plagues most sales vs. operations relationships which is - the salespeople believe that they need to go go go (which is true) and the operations people look at the bigger picture and the mechanics of the business. They don't treat the day like a catch as catch can, but look more at the strategical projects. While I'm racing around getting in front of wine buyers, Alec is often taking care of the controls of the business. These are 2 functions that heavily rely on each other - but which don't always mold together perfectly. Such as, for me, getting back to a client and having ample inventory is #1. But that can take all of your time and leave the foundation building fallow. We once said our goal is to have global operational excellence. Of course we can't build that unless we have revenue and hence, sales. So being forced to sit down and hammer out a solid plan with projections and structure, not just for ourselves but for our mentors in the program, has been an exercise that I, as a true salesperson, had undervalued.
Our company structure is increasingly fortified with every workshop and exercise we do. We have now looked at our myriad issues from many different angles and what we see is that we have a real business on our hands. Thanks to the fellowship, the foundational work that has always been an afterthought has become the centerpiece of what we are doing, and we find ourselves happily working until 8 pm on a Friday night. For the summer program, while I also have a full time job to pay the mortgage (I am the eternal Taurus) I don't have a lot of time to do the day to day sales. Luckily, I built in a foundation that has allowed for a doubling of our numbers every month while I can focus on the lessons of the fellowship that look at, you name it, brand strategy, online presence, forecasting, legal agreements, etc. We are in 6 states now and we have annuitized business at this point. When we go back to the sales side in a major push, likely as the fellowship concludes, we will have infinitely more strength and legitimacy.
Mary Taylor of Mary Taylor Wine