A friend of mine is coming over today to talk with me about the numbers for his business. I emailed him saying something like, Talking with me is a very low risk scenario. If anything it will give you greater confidence (and a little shove) to go talk to a real professional.
Technically, I’m a professional. Or at least I used to be. I was an English major as an undergraduate and then I got an MBA and became a financial analyst. It was a huge relief to have some sort of profession to hang my hat on. Don’t get me wrong – I loved being an English major, and the ability to write serves you well in every context and differentiates you from your peers (that’s right, stay in school, kids!) – it’s just that people knew what I meant immediately when I told them “I’m a financial analyst.” Sure, it wasn’t the most glamorous of employments, but it was a pretty sweet gig for me – I dreamed of such mundane things as a product launch and going to the cafeteria with my workmates when in the ICU. Of course I’m now a professional Supple Leopard/Stunt Artist/Rehab Junkie, so I view my former career in a rosy haze of wistfulness.
It is nice, though, to be able to be a “safe” person for people to bounce ideas off of. When I emailed my friend to ask him to come have tea with me and bring his books I reminded him that I have a huge brain injury/disability thing going on (this was to keep expectations low). As I considered what we’d talk about today I figured I’d write some questions down for more public consumption. Only one future post centers on financial issues – the rest of the questions are more general.
These are questions you should think about before venturing out on your own. Please understand, though, that anything I write is only a starting point for your thorough and well-rounded research. My impairments prevent me from rifling through my books and files, some of them are in storage, and I have about 10 more minutes before I need to stop typing so I haven’t done the Internet research you should do. These things are just on the top of my mind – and if you can’t answer these questions, please do not think you will just get by with an AMAZING idea.
There are probably success stories out there about people who have great ideas but zero business sense and manage to become millionaires anyway. Do not depend on this kind of story for your future success. If it happens to you, great – but it would be much wiser to approach your livelihood (and your family’s welfare, if applicable) armed with a cogent strategy and some snappy looking spreadsheets. Also, PowerPoint Slides – those never hurt. Seriously, though, pictograms and infographics are appealing to many people (Pinterest, anyone?) Summarizing your idea on a ppt slide is a good discipline – plus it will help you explain your venture to other people. PS. People have short attention spans and pictures are good.
So this is going to be a series – probably about a month long, if I post this sort of thing once a week.
Question 1: What is my product/service (30 second elevator pitch)?
Make sure you can define your product/service and “pitch” it within the time it would take for you to share an elevator ride with a VIP who happened to step into the lift with you. Say what sets your idea apart and be comfortable enough with it so that you can think on your feet and tailor it to different audiences.
In appreciation of how my friend was gutsy/vulnerable and shared his business details with me I’ll give you an example – Me. Myself. And I.
This might not be the perfect example, but it’s what I’ve got to work with. “Learning How…” is not a business – it’s my life. Many things I learned to do in school are only partially applicable because I cannot influence events in RecoveryLand to be more interesting or compelling – they just happen, and never on my schedule.
But they do happen at the right time, i.e. on God’s schedule, which has resulted in a story I’d find quite interesting and compelling if it weren’t my life – since it is my life I have a less removed take on the situation and summarize it as harrowing and hysterical. At least that’s how I describe it in my “Memoirs” – and since a book is a product I’ll use that as my specific example.
Learning How is the true story of how I had an AVM rupture and massive stroke at age 30 after deciding to forgo the American Dream and move to Africa as a missionary. Instead of sending me to the mission field, though, God put me in a wheelchair. When I woke up I didn’t believe what had happened to me since it sounded so outlandish and just plain bad. But then God gave me peace about this situation and this book is about how I learned to walk (literally and figuratively) and to wait for more healing.
I could say a lot more, but this is supposed to be an elevator pitch, so I won’t. And I’m so close to this story I often forget salient details, so if you have any suggestions for my pitch, let me know. Basically, what sets me apart in this pitch is the badness of what happened. It is my fond hope that this “badness” will catch people’s attention so they stick around for the miraculous 2nd half of the story –the part where God saves me from a lifetime of anger and bitterness and plants hope where despair used to grow. There are other/critical factors that set my story apart from the near death/inspirational narrative genre on the market, but I’ll save that topic for next week. See you then!
PS. My new prayer requests are here. New things include “Vocal Cord Intervention” and “Health Insurance” decisions. I’m also officially on Summer Vacay now!! Thank you for praying ❤
P.P.S. If you’re new here I revamped the “Favorites” page for your benefit. Start here.
Where I learned what an elevator pitch is: