Missed Opportunities For Startups Translate to Lost Time, Money & Momentum
Recently I had the opportunity to meet some a-ma-zing ladies in the startup space who served as panelists for a local female empowerment event. However I completely mucked it up by allowing my ideation strength to get the best of me.
I decided last minute to create individual gifts for each panelist for all the right reasons however the timing was absolutely wrong wrong wrong. Giving each panelist a gift would garner me the opportunity to have a diverse influential group of women to demo my product, provide feedback which in turn means I would likely stand out. My head was in the clouds about the potential to gain validation for my startup, notoriety and pics to upload on the Nature's Perfect Garden IG account.
The crazy ridiculous aspect of this business face plant is the realization that I was given direct access by the coordinator of the event to do a giveaway of my product, promote the collaboration and give out trials to each attendee with no strings attached, no fees, etc. All I had to do was be there timely and yet I was not all because of a last minute idea I should have shelved for a future opportunity. I recognize this was a missed opportunity that I took for granted.
here's how i messed up
It's seldom for event hosts and coordinators to allow open access to their event, last minute, with the genuine intent of opening doors for others yet I didn't make the most of the opportunity and that is no one's fault but my own. Lesson learned. Nature's Perfect Garden is a collection of handmade, made to order beauty products requiring extensive time, effort and energy to create when doing so from scratch. I learned of the event several days before it occurred specifically asking the host if I could hand out my product at the event just a few days prior. I completely underestimated the preparation time needed and a bit of procrastination was at play, if I'm honest. This isn't acceptable as I continue to scale my startup in hopes of getting past the validation phase.
After fighting Atlanta traffic towards the end of rush hour and meeting my invited guest, I made it to the event with product and gifts in tow 45 minutes late to a two hour event with a hard stop. I did it to myself. To further compound the issue I missed the ability to perform customer discovery with a targeted audience of ideal customers. If that wasn't enough I had to forgo my opportunity to connect with attendees who had or was in pursuit of their own businesses. I was in the same car as my guest who needed to leave earlier than I.
Networking rule 101 broken.
Always attend business events on your own, transportation logistically speaking. If anyone has to leave early than another, there's no harm no foul. This was of no fault of my guest as my tardy arrival and her unfamiliarity with the venue prompted the need for me to offer to meet my guest beforehand.
As a spectator the event was a success in that I learned a lot which informed my next steps however as a girl boss looking to gain traction from the event, I simply fell short. While the value of potential sales, influencers, followers and feedback I could have gained can't be quantified, what I know for sure is I did not net ANY of those necessary components of running a successful business. In fact I lost time, money and momentum.
As entrepreneurs we must seize every opportunity and stay ready so we never have to get ready. Prepare for success and the "yes" when you make an ask. When someone says yes you are now obligated to do your part. When a newly formed idea for your business crosses your mind, be sure you can execute by:
Only making an ask, when collaborating, if you can see the effort through satisfactorily;
If you have a brilliant idea that you don't have the time to fully execute, partial execution can be enough. One step in the right direction can go along way to positioning your brand and your business.
What I should have done was ditch the idea to make and package custom gifts and instead introduced myself to each panelist, shared my condensed WHY and followed up with an ask if I could send them my product to demo in return for honest feedback.
When what you believe to be a great idea presents it self, walk yourself through the "how" using an estimated timeline. The exercise may devalidate your idea and helps you to identify your plan B, plan C and so on.
turning lemons into lemonade
The good news is there such a thing as redemption. I still plan to contact each panelists via social media giving them thanks for their willingness to impart the information each shared during the event. This works to my benefit now that the reconnecting is a warm reintroduction with the event still fresh in their minds. Having taken notes will help me stand out as I also have the option to given each panelist a direct quote from each of them that resonated with me. I'll utilize this one to one conversation with a request for coffee to expound further on their ideologies related to their female entrepreneur journey and present my product to each at that time.
There's nothing like fresh squeezed lemonade after a tough lesson.