#mystartupstory | Startup School and Investec First Place Prize Funding Finalist | because I dared to DREAM...
Long post- bear with me please :)
Let me tell you a long story short [from my heart]...
I was holding on to hope by a thin thread. I had already started looking out for options -marry a rich husband :) yep! That's how bad it was! Find a job - this - at 40 years - was hard, in this era of 'young people' being sort-after and given more opportunities - I would like to think that the internet-space was almost clogged with my numerous CV's floating around.
I had given myself till December 2019, put my dream aside, move into my sister's house and then...I didn't even have a plan after that. So I told my sister about my December deadline. I felt like a failure. I was not making headway. Or so I thought...
But I still kept looking for opportunities to grow as a business person because I knew I probably was not doing something right. One of them was attending the Startup School Africa in May 2019 (referred to me by another of the programmes - Business of Creative Entrepreneurship - I had attended March 2019). So the Startup School Entrepreneurship Programme is a 12-week intense course with the opportunity to win a R100,000 prize funding from Investec!
Now, I didn't think I would win the first prize because, prior to submitting my final pitch for the STARTUP SCHOOL and INVESTEC Entrepreneurship Course, 1. the first collection of sample coats I had used my last funds to produce in May 2019 did not make it into any retailers store, 2. I used to suffer from Imposter Syndrome, no matter how good I know I am, I would torment myself that I didn't deserve to be so good or I was going to be called out for being a fraud. I mean, I went to the school of Internet to learn Surface Design, and ALSO 3. I had gotten about five 'I am sorry you didn't make it' kind of email (from March - August 2019) and each one chipping away at my confidence, BUT, somehow I still held on to hope, with my pinkie finger this time. Wasn't a stronghold, but I held on, with my dear life.
If I failed I wanted to feel justified that I gave it my whole best.
Going through the course was exhilarating as well as exhausting. Exhilarating because, I started getting excited about the future. The course helped fine-tune my #BusinessModel (I mean take a look at the image above and see all the modules covered!!!!). And, exhausting in the sense that I couldn't see light at the end of the tunnel 'now-now', that things were going to get better - I just didn't know how, financially, I was going to go from 'Idea' to 'Building' to 'Measuring' to 'Learning' and then to 'Building a Business that would Last'.
So sometimes, I didn't have the energy to study and go through the modules because, I was physically and mentally drained, from worrying about the past, present and what the future held for ZURI and IMANI and me. I submitted my pitch a few hours before deadline - everything was working against me - my computer's microphone wouldn't work to record my pitch. The image quality was so poor. I tried with my phone, but it was so sub-par. Ish!
Despite the funding prize, which I didn't think I had a shot at, I worked hard to be dedicated at the course because, I did not have a concise business model. I was going in circles and making so many mistakes and sometimes no mistake at all, because I-JUST-WAS-NOT-MOVING-AT-ALL!
I was desperate. I needed a BREAKTHROUGH so bad, that I would go back to all the feedback notes over and over again, I would go through every single article sent to read, I would read the Blue Ocean Strategy and the Lean Startup, books (recommended in the course), almost at the same time. With the last bone of belief in my body, I believed in my designs, my skills, my dreams and a 'maybe' things could change...
Online schooling does require lots of discipline I must say! For my pitch submission, I went through Week 5 module on sales pitch over and over again, and came up with a different approach on submitting my pitch (bad microphone be damned)! After the 12-weeks, it was easy now to talk and write about the business, our vision, value proposition, target market, problems, solutions, growth opportunities...
And as they say, the rest is history!
Are you desperate for a breakthrough? Are you tired of having sleepless nights because you don't know how to move from ideation to starting? Do you want change so bad that sometimes it seems like you cannot breathe? Are you about to give up? Don't! TRY AGAIN. One more time. Give the 12-Week online Entrepreneurship Development Programme that changed my life, a shot.
Week 1/2 - I was all over the place with my business model- I wanted to do too many things at once.
Week 3/4 - The modules and the assignments this week had me thinking deep and a structure for the business started forming.
Week 6 - I finally put together a financial plan and budget. Seriously this helps put a lot of things in perspective. When I saw the figures, figuratively, I felt like 'packing my bags and running away'.
Week 8 - My People!!!! I finally had a BUSINESS PLAN. Do you know how important that is?! I was able to put in all the detailed feedback received from the course instructor from the past weeks and what I had learned and create a navigation system for ZURI and IMANI. A business GPS!! It all became clear. The first steps I needed to take. It was like I had mapped a detailed route for this entrepreneur journey.
Week 10 - This was my favourite week. It was the week everything came together. The 'Execution Strategy' week. This was the week that I put in the coordinates for the first phase of the journey. I wasn't circling anymore and coming back to the same place I started. The Execution Strategy had the launch codes I needed, to be able to lift-off.
So! Don't say I am not a good friend :). You can apply HERE. Applications close FEBRUARY 21, 2020 - Don't miss out! It doesn't matter what phase or stage you are- Ideation, Prototype, Growth Stage or maybe you are just trying to figure things out. You might even come up with a different business model from what you had in mind.
P.S. Entrepreneurs who want to apply for the course but are not able to afford the full course fee may apply for a bursary from Investec.
This is not a sponsored post. I am living breathing witness that if you can 'Dream it', 'Believe it', you can 'Make it Happen'. You just have to be desperate for change and hold on tightly to hope, even if it is with your pinkie finger.