To pitch or not to pitch?

Last week I was told off by a fellow member of my class of this year’s New Entrepreneurs Foundation (NEF) cohort. My crime. I didn’t tell my story when I introduced my business to the group. In my defence I’ve spoken about Packed Munches several times to the group, but said fellow had a point. For the sake of anonymity let’s call said fellow Mucy.* When I started presenting to the group I said

So as you all know my business is called Packed Munches and it’s an online subscription service that sends boxes of British food to expats

Mucy said that quite frankly, that was a weak introduction, and reminded me that it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve talked about my business, or how many times I’ve talked about it to a particular person, every time I should tell my story. It should be like a pitch. But not a pitch

HUH?

Haha it sounds harder than it actually is but through NEF I’ve learnt two ways to tell your story when you’re pitching your business – courtesy of Adele Barlow (of Escape the City). It makes your ‘pitch’ so much less offensive (you all know what I mean) and makes the conversation that you’re about to embark on just that. A conversation.

The first – A Good Story

FYI I’m really getting into this and at this point wish I had made this into a video post as after the first I would have an exciting duh duh duh sound effect

Rather than pitching your business to people you meet. Tell them a story so that you can create people who want to follow your story.

Now every good story needs a hero, a conflict and a resolution:

  • Who is the hero? You can think of yourself (or rather your business/product) as a hero.
  • Where is the conflict?  What problem are you trying to solve?
  • How does your product or service provide the resolution?

So for Packed Munches the answer would be:

  • Packed Munches
  • Difficulty finding British food abroad
  • Delivers the food to expats.

So my story would be, Packed Munches delivers food to expats who have difficulty finding British food abroad. Hmmm, it’s good but it’s no cigar. Which is where the second method comes in.

THE GOLDEN CIRCLE

Why, How, What

Why, How, What

People don’t buy what you do – they buy why you do it.

Simon Sinek explains this best in his TedX talk but I’ve summed it up here for you:

The traditional way that companies sell their product is exactly as I did above. By telling you what the service is, how we do it and why.

Packed Munches (WHAT) delivers food to expats (HOW) who have difficulty finding British food abroad (WHY).

But the great companies, like Apple, they tell you why first, then how, then what. So

Living in a new country can be difficult, new culture, new language, new people. We want to encourage people to shake off the feeling of being homesick and experience the joys of being abroad. (WHY) Every month we help expats to stay connected with home and reminded of the good times (HOW) by delivering a taste of home to their doors. (WHAT)

Granted it’s slightly longer but hell doesn’t it sound better! Cue sound effect:

So I guess the answer to the question to pitch or not to pitch is to pitch without pitching. Tell your story using the Golden Circle.

Mucy also told me her favourite part of our story is our tagline. It’s like a hug in a box from home. So in full here’s my story:

Living in a new country can be difficult: new culture, new language and new people. We want to encourage people to shake off the feeling of being homesick and experience the joys of being abroad. Every month we help expats to stay connected with home and reminded of the good times by delivering a taste of home to their doors. It’s like a hug in a box from home.

Now if you’ll excuse me I need to amend my About Us and every piece of promotional material about Packed Munches 😀

Ciao ciao xx


*Mucy is not her real name. In case you hadn’t guessed. But you probably had. #cantakethegirloutoflawbutnotthelawyeroutofthegirl #inappropriatelylonghashtag

The best laid plans

I’ve always been a big believer in Malcolm X’s quote

Tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.

malcolmx

Hell we grew up with a huge painting on the wall and my mum raised me on that saying, so at the beginning of each year write a plan for my year. Not new year’s resolutions but a plan for my year. I normally do this on new year’s day but being the obsessive that I am I obviously had planned out my plan before the New Year. Just after Christmas the hospital called me pushing an operation I had to the 31st December. No biggie I thought.

Oh. Fiona.

To cut a long story short I had the operation, which didn’t go to well, and turned into an infection, which spread to my ear, and I’m only now just somewhat recovered. Which is great… except my amazing plan has gone to pots! I’m 13 days into January and what was  meant to be a year that began with a bang has started off with a hiss and fizzle. Urggghhhh.

Amongst my friends I’m known as Murphy from Murphy’s Law (known more colloquially as s*d’s law). Whatever can go wrong will. I called my business partner to fill her in on my 2015 drama and one of the first things she said preemptively said is.

Ok well as soon as you get better you can start your plan. It doesn’t have to start at 1.00am on the 1st January. You can just shift things along a few weeks.

One of the great things about my business partner being my best friend is she knows me too well. The side effect is I’m no longer sad about being ill. I’m ready to get better to get my plan in action. Bring on 2015 – it’s going to be a corker!

Can you learn how to be an entrepreneur?

There are pretty much two camps when it comes to this question. Those that believe you either are born with an entrepreneurial ability, and those that believe you can be taught how to the be next Richard Branson. What if they’re both right? Well I’m going to put this theory to the test by both running a business and learning how to start a business at the same time. What? Madness I hear you say. I know, I know – what can I say, I’m a rebel!

Learning how to run a business:

As I mentioned in my last post I’ve been accepted onto the 2015 cohort of the New Entrepreneurs Foundation (NEF) programme. This is an intensive 12 month programme that teaches the highs and lows of the entrepreneurial journey. Throughout the 12 months I’ll attend workshops and networking nights, complete assignments and develop a company from inception to pitching all whilst working in a sponsor organisation (Free:Formers).

The running my own business part:

I’m currently working part-time at Free:Formers learning amazing digital skills and moving into product development. Working part-time is great as it means I can spend my days off focusing on Packed Munches. There are loads of people that manage to pull off working 9-5 for a company and then working 5-9 on their home businesses. After giving it a go for a few months, I have a new found respect for those people as it is hard. I’m talking H-A-R-D. And don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not one to shy away from hard work but it is also exhausting and this is what beat me in the end.

I was so tired and had the constant feeling of not sleeping that I ended up turning into a cross between a grumpy bear and Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh. It was not pretty. Luckily Free:Formers saw what was happening and were happy for me to move into part-time work. I use a lot of the skills I’m learning at Free:Formers to develop my business – it started with coding and has moved on to social media – which means that both the business and my work at Free:Formers is constantly evolving

It’s too early to tell how this is going – all I know is I feel like a new born child. Everything is new and I’m trying to hold on to all the gems of information I’m being exposed to. As usual I’ll keep you updated here but in the meantime I bid you good day sir. 🙂

A room full of crazy geniuses part 1

People who know how work for people who know why.

What happens when you take 35 21-29 year olds wantrepreneurs put them up in a hostel without WiFi and tell them they have two days to bond?

You want to say genius right? WRONG. You get a group of individuals that go so crazy they resort to building bumble hives and leaning towers of success.

Leaning tower of success

So my title was slightly misleading but my first two days of the NEF programme (the New Entrepreneurs Foundation) felt like an introduction into both crazy and genius and has led to the acceptance that in order to be a great entrepreneur, or more importantly in order to be successful in life, you have to accept the out-of-ordinary. Quite simply think out of the box. Nothing made us do this more than David Buffin of Buffin Leadership International who led us for one and half days through activities designed to inspire us to success.

Let me help you visualise this: We started each session dancing to 80s/90s dance music – and I’m not talking the good stuff. We screamed, we jumped and hugged one another. We wondered where he had been sent from to punish us and how we could return him (this was obviously the WiFi withdrawal kicking in hard). We learnt. We learnt. We learnt.

I repeat this not because we learnt continuously, or incessantly, but because what we learnt was empowering. We were given the tools to succeed, through careful identification of our goals – the results we want to achieve, how we communicate. I learnt how to evaluate not just my team-mates but use the evaluation forms to self-evaluate my work within teams and with others. We learnt the tools to building trust, how this impacts on customers and your colleagues.

If you look carefully you can see the bumblebee costumes

If you look carefully you can see the bumblebee costumes

If I share anything with you it will be this – take an hour each day to evaluate how you are doing, evaluate what results you want to achieve and how you are going about achieving this. More in the next post.

xx

** For those eagle-eyed readers you’ll remember I posted about NEF in the past, more about my journey into NEF in my next post!

Failing

Fail to prepare = prepare to fail

So the tech scene is really big on failing. By that I mean they really encourage you to experience failure, talk about failure and then ( and what is more than likely the most important reason for the importance placed on failure) is to learn from your failure. This works for me as one of my favourite sayings, and it really is something I try to adhere by everyday is

A mistake is only a mistake if you don’t learn from it, otherwise it’s a lesson!

With this in mind, I think it’s time for me to own up to some failures on my part. When I started working full-time I thought it would be really easy to continue running my business on the side. I mean, I read about how hard it can be, but in what I guess can only be called an amazing display of arrogance I genuinely believed I possessed the super-hero like Steve Jobs ability to seamlessly transition from full-time self-employment to both full-time self-employment + full-time employment. You can see from my blog updates (or rather lack of) that I have been unsuccessful in this. Furthermore, my lack of adequate planning has meant that not has Packed Munches suffered, but I’ve also been unable to fully get involved in the tech scene and entrepreneurial community in London.

This weekend I had to reevaluate my plans. Being the slightly controlling person that I am, this actually involved an A3 notepad, coloured pens and some white tack. After realising that I’ve been horrendous with my time-management skills I have re-prioritised everything I am currently doing, what it is I want to do and re-affirmed what my end goals are.

Public declarations of my lessons:

  1. Spend at least 20 minutes every morning setting up the daily social media for Packed Munches.
  2. Two nights a week should be spent on developing a customer base for Packed Munches.
  3. Spending two nights a week staying up to date with what’s happening within law.
  4. Whilst at work and not training, continue developing newly acquired coding skills. (I have now grasped HTML and CSS, continue to ‘master’ these and start on JavaScript sooo exciting!!!)
  5. Try to blog once a week!