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Challenge yourself outside your comfort zone

Last week I went to the local Council offices to celebrate winning grant funding for a project I am involved in. I had taken the step to challenge myself outside my comfort zone, as I had never asked for any funding before, let alone within a competition!

There were some amazing businesses who were alongside me on the above photograph. There were a few companies who are in a business incubation programme at Hertfordshire University, a couple of established businesses (one was celebrating 25 years in business), and a couple of businesses like myself that had self funded everything until now.

And I mention the self funding because it is quite a big step to go and ask for money, whether it is for investment, or within a competition, like the one above. I spent a lot of time making my ‘ask’ really clear, with costings. The total amount you could ask for was £1K, but I asked for £750, because I knew this would cover the project. Although friends laughed at me because I didn’t ask for the full amount, it was because I was conscious that there was a limited amount of money, and my pitch might enable some money to be available for someone else.

Of course I have also learnt a lot from the experience. Here are my top tips for pitching.

  • Prepare extensively. Have lots of data and examples available
  • Practice, so you really know your way around the pitch
  • Personalise the pitch; people respond to a personal story that makes them feel good
  • Be clear about where you want to spend the money. The judges said that some applicants had been rejected because they were vague about what they wanted the funding for
  • Remember that the questions you are asked in the pitch can be invaluable and challenge to look at something in another way. It is not a criticism of you business idea.
  • Whatever the outcome you will have discovered far more about your business from independent judges.

And by chance, I interviewed someone who pitches for investment. Here is the interview and it is invaluable for the content.

I will share more about the investment and project I am doing in a future blog but in the meantime, if you would like to work with me, or discuss how I could support your company or team, why not book a complimentary call with me

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