Ideas, Connections, and Ownership (i.e. Throw away the box)

This one is for the wine wholesale reps out there, especially those feeling down or disenfranchised. 

With the rise of the gig economy and the proliferation of freelancers, certain aspects of the wine sales game have changed tremendously.

Two things to ponder, plus one radical idea:

  1. You own your contacts and relationships. Your boss might disagree, but in my opinion your boss’ job is to use you to develop new contacts for him or her (“Hey Jane, this is my boss Bob … Bob meet my great long time friend Jane”). In other words, the years of networking and relationship building that you have done does not go away if you change jobs. Own it. A good way to make sure it doesn’t go away should you change jobs is to structure your contact list and email communication carefully. Build a way to blind carbon copy yourself on work emails, going into an email address you own. Be sure to back up your contact list constantly.
  2. Creative ideas that you develop for the betterment of the company you work for are owned by the company that pays you. Keep this clean and clear in your mind. If you develop a new sell sheet style, or a new catalog for your company, or some software or a website then that is owned by those that paid you to develop it. If you’re thinking about leaving a job, be sure to get screenshots, print outs, links, etc. to show off your good work to others, but never forget that you don’t own it.

On that note, if creative idea development is a big part of your job, and you feel bullied or ignored at work regarding your ideas (not getting recognized, not paid for creation of new things, not allowed to have occasional failure) then start looking for a new job. It’s not going to get any better at your current position.

So here’s the radical idea: if you are an idea person, plus you’ve developed a great contact list full of wine buyers, sommeliers, restaurant owners, etc., and at the same time new tiny distributors with small books are opening up left and right in your city (distributors that are hiring inexperienced sales staff, and paying them only on commission) then there’s an opportunity. Could you be a wine wholesale consolidator or broker? Could you as an individual represent the wine portfolios of four or five distributors at the same time, in exchange for them getting access to your years of contacts along with your idea generation?

It would have to be set up carefully, with contracts involved to preserve your relationships and income flow (key provision: no accounts can be taken away from you for a set number of years). Basically, you’d set up shop as a wholesaler without the investment of your own money or the paperwork involved. Lots of work, but lots of self ownership in the end as well.

It’s a whole new world, and this might be a good gig.

Don’t just think outside the box. Throw away the box.

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