Have you never blown a chance to impress someone? Are you willing to hear harsh feedback? Sometimes the mistakes we make can spur us on to bigger and better things.
I was extremely lucky to be attending Shine, a conference for entrepreneurial women run by millionaire Ali Brown. So lucky in fact, that I manifested a free ticket to be there!
For three days I listened to incredible tales of success. The founder of Baby Einstein was there, Academy Award winner Marlee Maitlin gave an inspiring session and Ali herself told her story of building her successful marketing empire.
My room mate at the conference Sabine was hilarious. She would just go up to the speakers to introduce herself and ask advice. I was too nervous myself, especially when I heard billionaire Anne McKevitt who is Ali Brown's own mentor and success coach.
I was seriously impressed during Anne's speech when she spoke about how she sold her home-design business for more than $700m and is now worth more than a billion dollars. She is one no-nonsense Scottish lady who know lives in her dream house in Sydney.
Every break between session, Anne would be surrounded by conference delegates asking her advice on their businesses. On the very last day after lunch, I noticed that there was a much smaller group around Anne than normal and I decided to listen in.
After a couple of minutes, she turned her laser gaze on me and said "So, what's your business?".
This was my chance! My body had a different plan though. I started sweating and stammering while I explained my idea to her. I gave her my business card, painfully aware that it was a home-designed card with everything she had been lecturing about during the conference on what not to do.
While I stumbled through my idea, she examined my card and looked me up and down. Not in a mean way, just in a speculative "what are you made of" way. I wanted to impress her badly, but I was doing a terrible job. I had no idea I would be in this position!
She interrupted my pitch which had turned into a nervous stream of consciousness flow and dismissed my idea with "It's not a business" and "...ten years too early". She asked me what I was really passionate about and advised me to drop my current idea for something else.
She wasn't being unkind. She's just a highly experienced and successful entrepreneur who heard a weak pitch and couldn't see the commercial benefit. If she was being approached to invest in my business, she would have passed without hesitation.
I wanted to tell her that I was different; that I was passionate and that I had many other good ideas, but I lost my chance.
Embarrassed but so totally fired up to prove her wrong. I thought "Screw you Anne McKevitt, I'm going to be successful, no matter what!". But she made me think - what if my business idea wasn't crash hot? Did I have the courage to admit that and start over?
Yes, Anne was 100% right and after some painful reflection here's what I learnt from that embarrassing experience:
Pride and passion
My business idea at the time was not hugely inspiring to me and that's why I failed in my pitch. I didn't have enough passion for it and I didn't think it lived up to my potential. If I truly believed in it, I would have wowed her with my energy.
Are you really passionate about your career or business?
Are you proud to tell others about your ideas, or do you hide away with embarrassment?
One simple message
The name of your business needs to be very clear or you should be able to state what you do in one sentence.
"I'm a life coach specialising in achieving inspirational goals using the Law of Attraction"
"I write children's books with fun, uplifting messages about the environment"
Is it a good idea and is it marketable?
I still love my original idea, but I understand now it's a very small niche. If I want it to take off, I'd probably have to dilute the concept behind it.
Some people can make a lot of money out of exploring a small and profitable niche, but only if that market is willing to spend the money on your particular product.
It's a harsh lesson but a fair one. Can you make money with your business idea?
Are you willing to change?
I love hearing stories of persistence and hard work paying off, but there are also millions of stories of the crazy inventor who sent themselves broke throwing money into their weird idea convinced it would work.
Your idea might be fantastic and worth the work needed to get it off the ground, but it also might be a dud. Be honest now and take the emotion out of it - do you need to throw away your idea (no matter how much work and money you've put into it), or does it just need a few key tweaks to make it worthwhile?
How do you know? Get some independent advice from someone who is successful in a similar field. It's important that they are successful - you should only ever take advice from someone who has already achieved the results you're looking for.
Opinions are cheap, so don't go to your negative aunty or your always encouraging parents. They aren't objective and you need to hear an honest opinion.
Don't worry that it's the only idea you'll ever have. Inspiration comes all the time and by letting go of a dud idea, you might make room for a truly amazing one!
What would you have done differently?
Yes, we've all heard about preparing an "elevator pitch", but how many of us actually do it?
If you were to meet a highly successful and no-nonsense billionaire, what would you say in just one minute to impress them?
Love and luck,
Success coach and author of 'Lucky Bitch'