There’s an old adage that nothing happens in a company until somebody sells something. In fact, it’s also true of you, when you’re trying to sell yourself or your idea.

I do a bit of work as a mentor in the technology sector and so I come into contact with quite a few very early stage companies. In the tech sector in Ireland there is plenty of support, guidance and funding for building your software product. Once you’ve built your product, and you have to start selling it, in other words commercialising your idea, the funding is not so forthcoming.

This is a problem, because many of the people who have the idea for and develop their software product also have a lack of knowledge and confidence when it comes to selling it. Start-up companies can avail of a few meetings with sales and marketing mentors like me, but that’s nowhere near enough. They either need to start full-time selling themselves or else find the funds to get someone with the expertise to do their business development. They don’t have the money to do that, and the business development specialist is probably not going to work for free, or even equity, if they can’t see the promise of steady sales. Which brings it back to the fledgling business owners, who have to do the work themselves.

Start-ups have to start, but if they’re not capable of starting, then the money already invested in them, by them or others, is wasted. We need to train our entrepreneurs to sell, or else fund the sales expansion efforts and increase their chances of turning their idea into a functioning, growing business.