Believe in your idea but not blindly
We learn something new every day! And if, like me, learning something new intrigues you then entrepreneurship is for you!
The past week and a half has been a time of learning and anxiety. I am lucky enough to be part of a Business Incubator called Shanduka Black Umbrellas. Part of the process of full incubation is to present your business to a panel of experts for funding purposes. This past week I had the privilege of presenting to a panel of accomplished individuals, including funders, business experts, and academics, and boy oh boy was I nervous. Logic told me there was no reason to be nervous because I would be presenting MY business, which I happen to know in and out. At least that’s what I thought as I prepared my presentation. “What’s the worst that can happen?” I asked myself the night before. I reasoned that the worst they could tell me was that my idea and business model suck. This could mean going back to the drawing board. That can be an unsettling thought when you have spent countless hours honing your ideas and your business model. But upon further reflection, I realised that though such an outcome would set me back in terms of execution, this would in fact be an opportunity to reflect further on where I was going and revisit my basic assumptions about how I want to achieve my goals. Ultimately, this was an opportunity to receive feedback.
Feedback is golden in business! It tests your ability to listen and teaches you things about yourself that you may not have been aware of. You learn to appreciate the views of a potential client and collaborator. To the extent that these are helpful, they can refine your focus and improve your value proposition.
The experience reminded me that fear, worry, and anxiety are ALL par for the course in business. Embrace them and they will serve you. Allowing them to unsettle you on the other hand will ruin your confidence and focus.
When I completed my presentation I was happy in the knowledge that I had given my all. I went in there open to receiving feedback and receive it I did. I might not have agreed with some of the points of view, but I appreciated the effort the panel took in engaging with my business plan and financials and actually applying their minds to give me feedback.
This journey is not without challenges; challenges are what characterise it. How you respond to these is what will set you apart from the rest. Far too many of us are content to talk about problems; how others can solve these and we neglect to accept responsibility for our paths.
My greatest take away from this process? Be confident and invite feedback whenever an opportunity presents itself. Confidence comes from knowing who you are, understanding your ideas, preparedness and committing to learn something new. If you cannot speak with conviction about your business, then why should anyone listen to you?