So you may have seen my excitable statuses online last week - I've got some great news to share with you! Last Saturday I pitched the Less Ordinary vision at the Start Up Brixton festival and we won first place!
This is the first time I've pitched for funding for the business in the two+ years we've been running. To date I have bootstrapped and covered all start up costs with personal savings so this is a real milestone and a real achievement for us and our plans to scale up our operations & social impact over the coming months.
A couple of months ago I applied for the opportunity to pitch and found out we were up against 60 other great mission driven businesses who has also applied - HIGH STAKES!
We'd been so busy at Less Ordinary HQ in May working on the #5StepstoLead webinars, delivering new leadership programmes and preparing for the launch of the 30 Day Personal Leadership Challenge that I totally forgot about the pitch application until an email from the organisers popped up saying I was invited to pitch to the Dragon's Den judges!
I was so pleased to be invited to pitch to the judges on the day, but also felt massively unprepared. I wasn't ready. I knew there were 20+ inspiring entrepreneurs who had also been shortlisted. And knowing a few personally- these guys have such strong business ideas & do such incredible work that I really didn't expect for us to get through the first round. So I thought, I'll just do it for the experience - What have we got to lose?
Fast forward to last Saturday morning, I was seriously considering not pitching at all, the week prior was a mammoth with lots of late nights and early starts. I was tired and felt more & more uncomfortable about pitching as Imposter Syndrome kicked in big time - Who am I to pitch?! I don't deserve this! I'm not prepared, I'm going to fail...
Feeling scared, I texted someone who I knew would tell me to sort myself out- my best friend, and he texted me right back "Babe, just own it!!!" That at least bolstered me enough to get myself on the bus and to the event.
But then I met the other pitchers. They were young, they were well rehearsed, they had props (!) and they were glowing with readiness. Me? I just wanted my duvet and an almond milk hot chocolate. But then I took myself to the bathroom and had a very stern conversation with myself in the toilet cubicle which went something like this:
"Right young lady, that's quite enough! You've been given this fab opportunity to talk about your vision & plans for the business. I don't care if you don't feel ready, build a bridge and get over it. Who are you to throw this opportunity away? Pull yourself together, get up there and share the Less Ordinary story with pride. Smile, show them how much you care. Talk about your hopes and dreams and give it 100%. Then you can go to bed knowing you did your best, whatever the outcome. Now go shine & fly the Less Ordinary flag high!"
So that's what I did. I just went for it. I wasn't as prepared as I'd like to be and so stuck with what I knew: I know my story, I know all about why the business matters and the great work we do, I know what we stand for and I know what the big vision for the company is. I know all about the positive impact the business has had on the 100s of people and organisations we've worked with & supported over the last two years (keep the emails & the tweets coming!) and I definitely know we want to be able to do more great work.
Next thing you know I'm told we are through to the final live pitch – in front of an audience of 100s. I was the last to pitch, and heard the other three finalists go before me - they were each so fantastic in their own right that I had to use the first 30 seconds of my time to acknowledge how inspiring they were. Then I did my best to clearly share my vision for A Life Less Ordinary Wanted with the audience.
Next, it was time for the live poll - I managed to tweet and post to Facebook the links to vote just before my phone died! (I really need a new phone!) And then guess what happened?
We won first place!
I was (unusually) stunned into silence, thinking one of the other three finalists had won and there must be some mistake. Their business ideas were so good & strong and their pitches so passionate.
So I've spent a bit of time thinking about why I might have won, given how unexpected it was. What made my pitch different?
I'm honestly not sure, but I think there are a few factors that might have contributed:
- I know myself & my story & am very comfortable sharing it
- I am now really clear about my vision & what I want to achieve
- I truly believe in myself and my wonderful team's ability to realise this vision & achieve our goals & plans
- I feel confident about my plans for the future
- I can connect with & communicate clearly & confidently to a variety of audiences
- I have a strong, supportive network
Would you like to confidently be able to say all of the above about yourself?
If so, over the next few months I will be running a number of personal development focused Masterclasses and webinars on topics such as confidence & self belief, influential communication, and story telling. We'll be setting dates & releasing tickets very soon, so sign up to the Less Ordinary newsletter so that you will be the first to get an invite.
We’ve delivered several #LessOrdinaryLife Masterclasses so far this year. Here’s how they helped a few of the Less Ordinary VIPs who have been able to join us:
"I want to say thank you so much for last week. I really enjoyed it and it was just what I needed. I thought your delivery was great. It was just the right amount of theory, activities and time for individual thoughts too. Thank you so much! You will be pleased to hear that I have already made some good progress since our session last week. it was brilliant for me to have some time alone to think."
- Karleen Smith, Freelance PR Account Director
"The Masterclass was just what I needed. You created a space where I was able to really reflect on myself and consider where I was going. It was a perfectly timed event and it topped up my motivation to focus on my self-development. Hours well spent! I only wish it could have been longer."
- Ifey Frederick, Founder, Chuku's London
"I'd just like to say how very much I enjoyed the session. Thank you thank you thank you for running it. I felt very comfortable, and I think establishing an open and friendly space where people could say 'I feel tired', 'I struggle with staying motivated' was really lovely. I really felt I could share."
- Georgia Bradshaw, Housing Options Officer, Hastings Borough Council
"The masterclass struck a perfect balance between vulnerability and action focused takeaways. The facilitators were engaging and had a knack of challenging me to think beyond limiting beliefs. For such a personal topic I was initially wary about attending, I'm happy to say those fears were totally unfounded."
- Gosbert Chagula, Founder, How2Crew
Interested in booking me as a Keynote Speaker or finding out more about our Coaching or L&D Facilitation services? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a chat.