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Entrepreneurs aim up

Pitch and Polish is a National competition sponsored by Engen and held in 8 regional cities. The College was one of three local partners and the event in Cape Town was held late in August this year. I was privileged to be a judge to evaluate and comment on the 5 competitor’s pitch and business idea.

I would like to share 5 lessons that I learnt from the event. I trust they will add value to your own journey……upwards!

Show up

This free event, like many held in our City, is held on a Saturday to give more people an opportunity to attend and learn in an interactive and fun way. It does however, take up the entire day.

It therefore takes a commitment to your own growth that prioritises long term growth over short term pleasure. Big ups to those that chose the former!

Here is a quote that may help to set your commitment to long term growth.

“Without involvement, there is no commitment. Mark it down, asterisk it, circle it, under-line it. No involvement, no commitment.” Stephen Covey

Speak up

One of the biggest fears that many people share, is that of public speaking. Yet an entrepreneur will surely have to engage in this skill at some point in their journey. It is by attending such events, and seeing how others overcome nervousness that the savvy entrepreneur can grow. Incidentally, all those in the public speaking arena have nerves; but successful ones have learnt how not to show it!  For me, I have learnt to welcome nervousness before speaking and translated it into “staying on my toes”

An analogy of controlling nerves is that of tuning a guitar. When the strings are too slack, they give off a dull sound. If too tight, they give off a sharp sound and may even snap. The lesson?

We need a certain amount of nervous tension to both “show up” and “speak up”. By great preparation and practise, anyone can improve their public speaking and control their nervousness.

Tally up

The reason an entrepreneur should grow in the skill of pitching is that inevitably, they will need to pitch their idea to an investor or funder. In doing this, the resilient entrepreneur needs to have a good idea of the numbers relevant to the pitch and be able to share this in a compelling manner. Numbers like “how much are you needing?” and “how will you pay it back?” and “how will you apply it?” are key in the investors’ minds.

The more you can succinctly show that you know your numbers and that these numbers tally up, the higher your credibility with the investor.

“Don’t ever let your business get ahead of the financial side of your business. Accounting, accounting, accounting. Know your numbers.” Tilman Fertitta

Give up

Entrepreneurs have a deep love for their idea or business, but sometimes they need to adjust, shift and even pivot their ideas where in doing so, it will be to their advantage.

Don’t be so blinkered that you don’t see the value in constructive feedback and “give up” that area that you feel is being challenged…..that you may grow.

“Working at Pixar you learn the really honest, hard way of making a great movie, which is to surround yourself with people who are much smarter than you, much more talented than you, and incite constructive criticism; you’ll get a much better movie out of it.” Andrew Stanton

Step up

One of the words that is synonymous with entrepreneurship is that of hustling. There is a negative connotation to hustling which is not what I am referring too. (Fraud or swindling) Rather it is about obtaining by forceful action and persuasion.

The primary agent of this persuasion and action is…..you! After gleaning lovely lessons from such an event, are you going to “hustle” and hold yourself accountable to action and persuade yourself to go the whole 9 yards?

Magic happens when we learn the habit of healthy hustling.

Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle. Abraham Lincoln

Entrepreneurs….aim up!

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