03 Oct 2014

Earlier in September 50 of the chosen 100 businesses out of 1000 entries congregated at The Studio in Manchester for an intense day of learning involving different aspects of running a business. These were tutored in the form of workshops covering Finance, Digital Marketing, Pitching and Learning how to pitch to and interact with investors.

Arriving early to a buzz of excitement in the room, well you wouldn’t expect anything less in a room full of 50 entrepreneurs, all taking coffee and late breakfast in the trendy space of The Studio in Manchester, I scoured the room looking for a friendly face in the form of another contestant I had been tweeting to over the course of the last month.
Alas I could not see her and so engaged with my nearest other who happened to be a friendly warm Irish couple. I  downed a quick coffee for a caffeine lift.

The Pitch Competition grows year on year and what started as a small venture in Bristol has grown to be a nationwide competition inspiring entrepreneurs of all ages to enter and try to win an amazing array of prizes that gives business support worth thousands of pounds and the chance to receive business mentoring. Whether your business is trading or not and is under under three years old you are eligible to enter.

I thought I had prepared everything I needed however it soon became apparent (in the first workshop that just happened to be Finance my least favourite but absolutely necessary skill) that I was not as spreadsheet savvy as I thought and had completely missed out any Cash Flow forecasts! As an entrepreneur you come up with an idea and you think well I’ll go and make it and you become so involved in the design process and your passion to create your idea or service that you can overlook the steps afterwards to turn that into a profitable business reality. Fortunately there are people around like The Pitch that are there to support and offer valuable information that will enable you to get to the holy grail of turning your idea into a profitable business and they do just that.

The day itself was well organised and ran very smoothly but as a contestant it flew by with your head bombarded by the information given in the well thought out structured workshops. Each one challenging you and your previously well rehearsed comfortable ideas quite probably reached based on research, your experience so far, others perceptions and previous entrants that you had searched out on social media.

I found the day very challenging, but also very real. I don’t know how else to describe it. For me personally it was real, gritty, and surrounded by your peers making it absolutely inspiring and enlightening to meet and hear other people so passionate, and also successfully negotiating their way from that very first idea to fulfilling their dreams and making their business a reality.  

The array of diverse ideas from products through to services delivered was vast and if this is a snapshot of the UK and people’s passion to create new business well I fear not for the future. People as young as 17 and as old as me (which I will not divulge) and older pitched, some in absolute fear and shaking but showing a stoicism and bravery to get their story out.

Listening, sharing,learning and all the time trying to be brave enough to take on board the changes necessary and then to Pitch to a room full of people was as I said challenging but each and every one of the people that pitched was successful in a personal way and I think we all came away having learned a great deal. I often question why I keep putting myself through these things. I mean really? was I thinking rationally at the time or is it just what I said earlier a passion?  but it is part of the journey and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Overall the pitch Competition so far has been a good experience, and for me personally has given me a real sense of direction and structure. I come back to the real perspective again, I came away more focused and have been able to look at the areas that matter most. A new structure to my Digital Marketing and a big thank you to Bridget McKone @Tekmakmarketing.co.uk and Constant Contact.
Also huge thanks to Mike Byrne from AVG for his workshop, I now know how to approach investors when I need to. The other two workshops were each as valuable in their own ways. One on how to pitch by the lovely and energetic Annette Kramer who focused us all and helped me to tell my story. Finally the Finance workshop with ICAEW, which made me personally reassess my direction and how I presented and used financial forecasts as a valuable tool.

 I would whole heartily recommend this to anyone who is new to business and looking for support and a chance to grow and learn even if you don’t get through to the final the chance to network and interact and learn from the first stage is tremendous.
Thank you to everyone involved at The Pitch for this opportunity. www.thpitchuk.com

   

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