I'm entrepreneurial but can I get a job?

By Ray DePaul

This is the time of year that I get asked by graduating students about the types of jobs they should pursue.

Entrepreneurship students are often generalists. While they may not have the discipline depth of an HR or accounting student, they have the unique perspective of understanding the complete business and more importantly, what makes a business grow: creating value for customers. Their in-class and extracurricular experience has forced them to get out of the comfort of the university and actually engage with potential customers, partners, and mentors. Our graduates know how to ask questions, listen and identify problems and opportunities. They know how to craft solutions to these problems that will create value for the customer.

A while ago, we organized a roundtable of CEOs who led growth-oriented businesses. These were the types of companies that were looking to hire rather than hunkering down and reducing costs. We had a simple question: what role do you find most difficult to hire for in Calgary? The top answer was unanimous: sales and business development. So these graduating students shouldn't be surprised when I encourage them to apply for any job that involves developing or nurturing customers. (FYI, the next most popular answer from the CEOs was product managers, which I'll talk about in another blog.)

Ozzy Lang, the co-founder of Green Cup, recently received a priceless gift - a free seat in Carey Houston's 321 Sales Academy. Ozzy is what you'd call a natural salesperson. He is personable, passionate, hard working, and not afraid to approach anyone. These characteristics made him the great founder that he is today. But to be honest, few of us naturally understand the mindset and process of sales or business development - this is a learned skill. The opportunity to join a group of business owners and learn from an expert like Carey will change the direction of Ozzy's company and his career. Allan Luu, another MRU student, received a similar transformational gift when he won a scholarship to Hamish Knox's renowned Sandler sales training program.

If you haven't yet graduated from MRU, you're in luck. We are thrilled to be offering a new course in the Fall of 2017 on Business Development and Sales (ENTR 4420). If you are following an entrepreneurial path, you must take this course. Imagine being one of a handful of graduates in the city who can claim to truly understand the mindset and process of acquiring new customers. You will be among the most sought after talent in the province.

If you don't think you will like sales or business development, ask yourself why you like entrepreneurship? Do you enjoy the process of understanding problems and offering solutions to those problems? Do you love the rush of adrenaline when you find that solution? Do you like controlling your own destiny? Do you crave a career that isn't chained to a desk? Would you prefer to deal with people rather than spreadsheets? Do you want to make an impact in your 20's not your 50's? For those of us that don't uncover our "big idea" while in university, a first career in sales and business development offers many of these same benefits. It also sets you up perfectly for a future opportunity as the founder of your own company.

Enroll in ENTR 4420 and set yourself apart from the thousands of peers that will graduate with you in this city. If you're not sure, reach out to me and I'll "sell" you on the idea.