“First I was afraid; I was petrified” … Gloria Gaynor certainly did not have entrepreneurs in mind when she sang these words, in her classic disco hit “I will survive”. But the opening words of the song could very well describe the feelings of most entrepreneurs when they first begin pitching their business to potential investors and clients.
Fear is certainly the order of the day. However, like Gaynor, survival is also the order of the day and entrepreneurs who are unable to master the art of the pitch are unlikely to master the art of survival.
In fact, having overcome the fear, and having moved past being petrified, successful entrepreneurs become addicted to pitching. How, one may ask, is it possible to become a pitch-addict?
Like any healthy addiction, such as to exercise, practice makes perfect. One cannot become a ‘pitch-addict’ until one has moved through the fear of pitching. Becoming a pitch addict requires you to actually pitch – often!
The mirror is a good place to start, followed by the 3 Fs, friends, family and fools (i.e. anyone who will listen!). And even if the 3Fs in your life do not actually invest, the experience you will have gained in pitching to them, over and over, is immeasurable.
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It is the first step on the path to addiction. And then it’s time for the real world! Bankers, investors, venture capitalists and, of course, potential clients.
The way you become a pitch addict is simply to breathe deeply and to tell yourself that no matter what feedback you get, you will find a way to use it to your advantage. You tell yourself that you will handle the feedback, no matter how hard it may be to hear.
In this way, you build your resilience to handle feedback. It is a virtuous cycle: the more feedback you get, the better you get; the better you get, the more courage you gain to pitch.
The fear never truly goes away. Even the most seasoned pitchers feel fear before they pitch their business. The pitch addicts are simply not letting fear get in the way! The more you say ‘yes’ to every opportunity to pitch, the more likely you are to become a pitch addict.
Suddenly, you will feel your fear turning into excitement. There is a ‘rush’ that accompanies the pitch – it is this rush to which pitch addicts become addicted.
“Just before the final pitch I was so nervous, and once on the stage the immense preparation helped me deliver a polished pitch.” says Murendeni Mafumo, the winner of ENGEN Pitch & Polish 2016, receiving R60 000 on the night.
“And once I’m done, and I know that I have faced my fear and conquered it, I am open to whatever feedback comes my way!” he adds.
“After winning, I feel grateful for the validation of my dreams.” Murendeni, who lives in Fourways, Johannesburg, won the judges over with his pitch on his existing business, Kusini Water, which uses technology developed to treat water. Murendeni’s love for science was sparked when he received a science set, as a present, when he was very young.
Related: How To Pitch An Investor
As his scientific knowledge grew, so too did his passion to make a positive difference in his community. Today, he ensures that people, specifically in rural areas, have clean drinking water.
“I thought I knew about business, but ENGEN Pitch & Polish has given me even more skills to grow my business beyond my wildest dreams!” says Murendeni.
It is important, however, to curb your addiction. A balance between working on your business, and talking about your business is essential. It is also crucial to be a discerning addict. Do your homework first. If there is something to be gained from the pitch, go for it!
The 2016 ENGEN Pitch & Polish programme, which was hosted by Engen Petroleum Ltd, Nedbank, Raizcorp and SAfm, culminated in an exclusive and prestigious event, held in Johannesburg. Alan Shannon, Head of Small Business and Professional Banking at Nedbank, expressed his enthusiasm by saying:
“Pitch & Polish is the perfect fit for Nedbank as we firmly believe that small business is the driver of the economy and employment. We believe in elevating and developing entrepreneurs, which is exactly what this programme does.”
In 2nd place overall in the national competition is Rishav Juglall, from the Durban event. He won R30 000 on the night. This young and dynamic entrepreneur, absorbed all the lessons of the ENGEN Pitch & Polish workshops, and it showed and paid off!
Rishav’s existing business, Rocky Brands, specialises in an array of high quality household cleaning products. As the youngest supplier to one of the largest retailers in South Africa, Rishav’s determination and ambition did not go unnoticed by the judges.
Rishav aspires to export his products all over Africa. His confidence gives him the ability to pitch extremely well, and with the added guidance from ENGEN Pitch & Polish, Rishav is sure to go very far with his business.
The Port Elizabeth contestant, and third-place winner in the finals, Billy Siziba, winning R15 000 on the night, grew up in a family of entrepreneurs. He is elated to be continuing the family tradition of self-employment and sustainability. His existing business, Bullyz Fitness, manufactures and sells gym clothing.
“Gym fees are high,” says Billy. “If you add the cost of gym clothes to that, gym becomes unaffordable for many people.” Bullyz Fitness aims to give people of all shapes and sizes, from all walks of life, access to professional gym clothes. Ever the entrepreneur, Billy is also working on an app that will help them to get, and stay, fit. No doubt the invaluable experience he has gained in ENGEN Pitch & Polish will serve him well as he expands his business to even greater heights.
Now in its seventh year, Engen Petroleum has been a sponsor since 2012. At the beginning of this year’s competition, Unathi Njokweni-Magida Engen’s Group Transformation Manager, said that she was expecting big things this year, “7 is a magic number,” she said. And she was right.
She continues, “This year’s competition has exceeded all my expectations, from the quality of the contestants to the aliveness of the audience, as well as the professionalism of the judges. As the headline sponsor, we could not have asked for more.”
Njokweni-Magida’s enthusiasm is backed up by the facts. This year, the competition hit record numbers with 2 300 entrepreneurs participating in the workshops.
The programme has been so successful that it caught the eye of Business Day TV which commissioned Pitch & Polish for a 10-week TV series which began in October 2016.
ENGEN Pitch & Polish’s power is truly in the pitch which produces a ripple-effect of success for entrepreneurs, and attracts opportunities for change and growth.
In the group photograph from left to right:
- Alan Shannon (Nedbank)
- Billy Siziba (3rd place, from Port Elizabeth)
- Murendeni Mafumo (Winner, from Johannesburg)
- Shirley Moroka-Mosia (Engen)
- Rishav Juglall (2nd place, from Durban)
- Allon Raiz (Raizcorp)
For more information, visit www.pitchandpolish.com
Off The Beaten Track
What Tourism Month means in South Africa and how Mango Airlines is focusing on local opportunities.
This September, being Tourism Month, we have so much to talk about in South Africa, and so many people to engage with, both domestically and abroad. We are privileged to be able to leverage a broad range of destinations – arguably world-class in nature, and they expand way beyond a beautiful mountain, and an ecosystem of game.
The vast majority of leisure tourists, however, remain attracted to the Mother City and various Safari destination, while business tourists tend to stick to hub cities for short durations of time before departing again.
“There is a golden opportunity to expand on the same offerings – while not detracting from them in any way. Our responsibility is to drive tourism into new areas, really emphasising the differentiators that are incredibly attractive to local and international tourists,” said Benediction Zubane, Head of Marketing at Mango Airlines.
“Often tourists visit one of the more well-known sites in an area, and are completely unaware of the other features and destinations close by. We’re seeing a lot of success in township tourism which goes to show how diversifying can really drive new tourism opportunities,” explained Zubane.
According to Statistics South Africa survey on Tourism and Migration, nearly 3.5 million international travellers visited South Africa in August 2017. Top numbers were tourists from USA, UK, Germany, France and The Netherlands, with African visitors primarily coming from SADC countries. Zubane added, “This means there is vast opportunity to begin engaging with travellers in new countries across the globe. We need to become our own best ambassador, talking-up our famous and lesser known destinations, proudly showcases our uniqueness. We should also be tourists in our own country and start exploring the wonders of the Rainbow Nation.”
Mango is passionate about helping its SMEs and entrepreneurial community to successfully overcome the unique challenges facing the tourism industry: “There has never been a more opportune time for small businesses and entrepreneurs to benefit positively from tourism in South Africa, and we hope to celebrate alongside our SME community as they fly high – both literally and figuratively,” he concludes.
FNB Receives 50 Million US-Dollars To Accelerate SME Development
First National Bank puts their focus on SME development in South Africa.
First National Bank (FNB) has received 50 million US-dollars from the DEG – Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft to deploy towards small and medium enterprise (SME) development in South Africa.
DEG is a development finance institution whose mission is to promote private-sector enterprises in developing and emerging-market countries as a contribution to sustainable growth and improved living conditions.
Mike Vacy-Lyle, CEO of FNB Business says: “The new line of funding contributes to our ongoing efforts to accelerate our contribution to SME development in South Africa. We believe that SMEs are key to stimulating sustainable economic growth and job creation. Our intervention in SME development is not only limited to funding, we also invest heavily to improve capacity and supplier development capabilities in small businesses.”
FNB continues to pioneer products and services that have taken the angst out of South Africa’s entrepreneurs, from providing free instant accounting services to online documents reservation services, and forming public-private partnerships to digitise the registration of businesses.
“Our message to entrepreneurs is that we remain committed to providing meaningful solutions to help them grow. We have exciting developments that will take us further in our journey, all aimed at advancing the SME agenda by taking the anguish out of doing business,” concludes Vacy-Lyle.
A Conversation With Yourself Could Change Your Life
Thami Buti is a 24-year-old South African actor. He is amongst the 46% of South Africans between 20 and 50 years, who have no savings at all. He’s probably one of 90% of people who will retire with less than 50% of their income.
Except none of this is true for Thami, because he’s had a conversation with himself – at six different ages – in Sanlam’s new educational campaign.
In Sanlam’s Conversations with Yourself campaign, Thami gets transformed into a 20, 30, 50, 65 and 80-year-old (actor Hlumelo Mzimkulu plays the 10-year-old) called YOU. And over a series of conversations, these characters in their different age brackets sit and share wisdom on life’s ‘what ifs.’ Disrupting the traditional approach to ‘finance talk’, the central idea is this: what if you could learn everything you need to know about life, from yourself? What if 65 year-old you could tell you – at age 20 – to stop buying so many cappuccinos and to invest more into an RA? And 30-year-old you could ask you at 80 how many kids you have – and how you afford to give them the lifestyle and opportunities you want for them?
Sonja Sanders, Head of Marketing and Client Experience at Sanlam Personal Finance, says each of the seven Conversations with Yourself films uses humour and insight to broach a different topic – and presents the accompanying product solve. “For example, the Conversation on Life and Retirement tackles retirement in a completely new way. Planning for retirement is often not a priority when you’re young. But what if you knew only 6% of South Africans are able to cover their monthly expenses once they retire? And what if you could ask your 65-year-old self whether you are one of the 6%? Would 20-year-old you still take that year off? Would you at age 30 still buy that flashy car?”
Using banter to bring home the fact that today’s decisions will define life when you’re older, the script takes a notoriously low-interest topic and makes it relatable.
The same goes for the highly sensitive topic of death, which no one wants to talk about — undoubtedly a problem in a country with an average age of death that stands at 64 years, and where 40% of the workforce is more likely to have cell phone insurance than life insurance.
Sanders says, “Conversations with Yourself takes an idea we’ve all had to the next level: The wish to fast-track into the future to see if our lives worked out the way we expected. Ultimately, you are your own partner in life. Everything you do now either benefits your future or jeopardises it. It’s often too daunting to imagine one’s future-self. But Conversations with Yourself connects the future to the present, and makes the experience real and impactful.”
Related: How To Start Saving Money Today
South Africa’s problematic savings culture has been well documented. In the retirement space, Sanlam’s Benchmark research has identified millennials as the generation most at risk of having insufficient savings, mainly due to their DIY approach to money matters, their mistrust of financial service institutions and the fact that they don’t identify with retirement as a goal. It’s a generation known for overconfidence despite their poor financial literacy. Millennials prefer self-directed advice – so what better way to deliver it than through a ‘conversation with yourself’?
“As WealthsmithsTM, Sanlam wants to empower people with the knowledge and tools to enable them to make positive financial decisions today. This should set them up for success both now and into the future. Conversations with Yourself helps people to appreciate that the planning they do today has significant implications for their future self. Ultimately, the campaign uses progressive storytelling to share a story to which any generation can relate. The story of you,” concludes Sanders.
Visit Conversationswithyourself to watch the films and start your own conversation.
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