Business Highlight: Count Me In!
In honor of LASK’s 10 year anniversary, throughout 2021 I am sharing a story about people or programs that moved the needle for my small business. This month, the Count Me In Business Pitch Competition gets the spotlight. Although no longer around, Count Me In provided resources and business education for women entrepreneurs and left me with 5 major gifts I value to this day.
In 2013, I was selected in a pitch contest as one of 36 business owners to receive a 9 month Business Accelerator Program. At the time, LASK was 3 years old and I knew nothing about running a business. With the chance to win free coaching, I jumped at the idea. To apply, I had to put together a P&L statement (I had no idea what a P&L was or how to put one together!), so I signed up for a QuickBooks class at the Urban League. This is where I met Crystal Mitchell who was an intricate part of my business growth and longevity over the years…Crystal was the 1st gift of the program (more to come about her next month!).
To be a part of the coaching program, I had to pitch my business in front of a group of judges. Several practice workshops were held to develop our pitches and I distinctly remember my voice shaking every time I got up to pitch. With time, I felt more comfortable and learned how to stand in front of a group of my peers, be vulnerable, and receive feedback. That was the 2nd gift of the program.
Pitch day came quickly…I remember wanting to throw up, hands shaking, and palms sweating. Standing up in front of a panel of judges, laying out my ideas quickly, wondering if I had a business that could be sustainable long term, the nervousness I know now wasn’t about public speaking, but instead it was about being open to failure. What if the judges didn’t feel like I had a solid business idea? This experience was my 3rd gift.
The 4th gift of the program was the 9-month group coaching program. I learned about running a business and how important having a community to share your successes and failures is. Finally, the experience taught me to be vulnerable and share what’s honestly happening in my business with other women…this is gift #5 and the most significant gift of all.