Last week, the seven of us, all seven Entrepreneurs in this Bootcamp, respectfully, in awe, went before “The Panel”.
What does that mean, exactly? What was “The Panel”? Who was on it? What was its purpose?
Well, you know what we had been doing the past 10 weeks of this 12-week-program (yes, we are near the end.)
· We had been prepping business concepts and revamping practices, learning techniques and applying new knowledge.
· We had been hashing out the how-tos and whys of our operations, numbers- crunching and stereotype-bashing, beginning to streamline our protocols.
· We made moves to proof-test our dreams.
We did all of this through meetings, lectures, discussions, mentor pow wows, and three seminal presentations, those afore-mentioned Retrospectives. We did some W-O-R-K.
All to develop and nurture our businesses.
These future plans could have just ended up yet another set of dormant, unrealized dreams, had they not been put through this process. Each business owner might have stumbled onto this knowledge eventually (but, then again, might not have).
But now, through the Entrepreneur Bootcamp, RMMFI ensured that, at the very least, each of us could now say we were exposed to essential knowledge, were now aware of resources and strategies that would strengthen our business concepts and put each of us in a stable position from which we could move forward. Now it would be up to us.
This is where “The Panel” came in.
Officially, “The Panel” was the Launch Panel, a committee of four or five people, including lending officers, accounting and finance people, sales and marketing veterans, people positioned where they could look at a plan, ask important, thought-provoking questions, and offer suggestions that could reverberate years into a business’ operations.
High impact, in other words.
I walked into mine, not knowing what level of formality I should assign the occasion, but being where I am in life, an entrepreneur with a dream, but also a woman long experienced with life (read: older), I walked in Happy, Calm, and Determined to benefit from the exchange as much as I contributed. Life is short.
I found a jewel. I struck gold.
First came the introductions, then a chance to briefly explain the business’ origin story as well as current state of operations. Each man listened politely, and then each transformed into an Unexpected Advocate. They each applied their own perspectives and knowledge to my business concept with an enthusiasm and passion as if the business were their own, even to the point of disagreeing with each other over the value of one strategy vs. another, and things like what steps to take first.
It was marvelous to experience, very encouraging and very exciting, to have one’s closely-kept entrepreneurial dreams vetted and a future passionately envisioned - out loud - by people you had never met before.
Validation is exactly the feeling I felt, and exuberantly!
Moreover, Validation was the purpose of “The Panel”. Would this business concept take
flight? Were the needs and projections realistic? What devils were in the details?
If you read my previous post, you will remember that I had been temporarily discouraged, my breath briefly taken away, with my own resilience and prayers putting me back up on the horse. Well, as I left the Launch Panel and shook their hands, I felt completely energized and ready for the next steps toward the future.
Wow. We are there. Ready for the next steps.
Next week is Graduation. An infusion of wind beneath our wings.
--- Jenny Davenport ---
AARP is proud to collaborate with Rocky Mountain MicroFinance to offer scholarships for those 50 plus to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities.