There is this illusion that working long and hard on your product and launching will be a path for entrepreneurial success. The build it and they will come mentality was popular in movie lore, however, there are several problems with this approach to entrepreneurship:
If you are starting a company, you have no brand. Thus, you are selling to people who are not familiar with what you do. Building a product from an unknown brand is difficult to break through the noise even if it is a valuable and high quality product.
Give me a salesperson that knows how to connect over an inventor that tinkers on their product before real sales are made any day. The early days of a startup should be about learning, growing and figuring out what the market wants. Selling a vision or making agreements based on custom work helps to define more specifically what customers are seeking.
If you can sell, you can write your own ticket. It may be days of selling the invisible and trying to gather requirements for what a product or service should look like. If you see a pattern repeated from one customer to the next, it’s a sign to invest more and deeply into developing something more standard.
As entrepreneurship continues to grow from the new economy’s relentless flattening of Industrial Age models, the entrepreneur that can sell first and listen carefully for what product should be developed will save themselves from missing the target and failing needlessly. It’s a game of small bets done quickly and iteratively than a large bet on a dream.
If you can’t sell, then learn to sell by taking risk, getting coaching or reading relentlessly. It is the lifeline in the early days of a startup.