Episode Six: Updates and Debunking Entrepreneurship Myths

This week we're debunking some entrepreneurship myths.

!You can listen here: https://open.spotify.com/episode/5YyNdlTLm29TC0wkEvtvSS?si=XCf7CtUFRaa8m_--uwZONQ
Or transcript below.

Kia ora, Ballers! Welcome back to "Now, That's What I Call Business." We'll be following the fizzy journey of Incrediballs. If you're wondering what a baller is, that's what you are. You guys are my support. You are the champions, the cheerleaders behind the growth of this company that technically doesn't even really exist yet. You are my ballers. If you're wondering what I'm talking about, head on over to Instagram where I asked you what I should call my earliest group of supporters, and we came up with Ballers. I'm Brianne West, your host and serial entrepreneur. I'm fresh from the Kea World Class New Zealanders Awards yesterday with some exciting news. But today, we're bursting some bubbles around entrepreneurship myths. First, I'm going to give you an update on Incrediballs because it has been an exciting couple of weeks. First things first, we have officially signed our contract. We've got it nailed. We are ready to roll and we are now balls deep, yep, that's what I said, in the flavor options. I know a lot of you are anxious about these flavors, so I'm going to give you some insight. Two of our flavors are going to be blackcurrant and something, and orange and pineapple, but feel free to guess what the other flavors are. In fact, you know what? For the next couple of weeks, I can still take some submissions, but we're getting close to that time where it's locked down.

We also had a really big win on the branding front this week. I found it so difficult to explain in one simple sentence what Incrediballs is all about because, much like a gemstone, it's multifaceted. We're trying to tackle so many problems at once with the whole fair trade ingredients and the charitable arm, but also the plastic-free aspect. So I'm trying to get it down to one fun point about this being the way of the future of the drinks industry, about giving up the bottle, all those things. So I'm very excited about where we got to with our branding exercise with some of the team at Previously Unavailable. And I can't wait to share more with you, but we have to wait. And my final piece of news from Incrediballs was our slogan competition. Now hopefully you follow Incrediballs drinks on Instagram or TikTok and you'll have seen my request out there for some slogan ideas. I know I did this for Ethique years ago, and actually, I think it's where "give up the bottle" came from. We had suggestions like "Behind Bars since ages ago," which we didn't go with because of some concerns about people who are incarcerated and how that would make them feel. We also had "Raising the Bar," which you'll see we've now gone back to. It turns out I recycle everything from names to slogans. So I did it again and I'm going to share some of the things we were given. And look, if you don't have a sense of humor, well turn this off right now. Started off strong with, "You'll Go Ballistic." Great one. "Balls of Fun," "Balls of Fire," "Balls of Taste." That was a common one. "Have a Ball, Not a Bottle," which is actually a really good one that we could use for sure. And then we got into some of the more risqué ones. And look, I know what was going to happen when I called this company Incrediballs, but... "The Best Balls You'll Ever Taste," that was a popular one. Talking a big game that one, isn't it? "Balls So Good They'll Have You Dribbling." Yep. Well, I hope they will, and probably my favorite, "Let's Get Balls Deep Into Caring About The Planet."

I'll leave you with those. Now last night was special as I mentioned, I was at an award ceremony for Kea World Class New Zealanders Awards, and I walked away with one of those awards. Award ceremonies always fill me with conflicted thoughts if I'm perfectly honest, because it's one person being awarded for something that many, many people have done. I would not be here, Ethique would not be where it is without the multitude of people who have helped from the very beginning, from my family, from friends, from everyone who's put up with me ranting or rambling or crying or whatever else. And an award can't sum that up. You can't award a team because these are typically individual things. So award ceremonies are always wonderful and I'm always so appreciative and it's so kind, but I'm always slightly awkward because they don't represent the entire team. So here's my opportunity to thank every single person who's ever had something to do with Ethique or Business, But Better or Incrediballs and everything else I go on to create in the future because these awards that yes, they do say my name on, but they are 100% for the team and for the effort everybody puts in. So thank you for being part of that.

Now, a couple of weeks ago I attended the Icehouse Ventures Showcase, which is something I participated in years ago, 2017 years and years ago, which is where we had 10 entrepreneurs stand up on stage and pitch their ideas to a room full of about a thousand angel investors. It's a glitzy night full of excitement and champagne and it's a lot of fun. And I think I recognized millions of people in the room. I'm sitting opposite Peter Beck from Rocket Lab, which was slightly intimidating because, did you know that 30% of everything shot into space has a Rocket Lab logo on it? That's mental. That is success, that ladies and gentlemen is companies from Aotearoa absolutely dominating and something we don't hear about and we should celebrate more of. Anyway, there were some pitches that really resonated with me. I'm so excited about the fact that we are developing Fusion here and I am 100% looking to invest in that company. But there were a couple of things I wanted to take away. Now, these guys had about eight minutes to pitch to an audience who'd probably never heard of their business before and there were some things that made some very successful and some less so. So number one is keep it simple. Your audience is not going to remember 10 points or even five points. They'll remember one or two, but they will remember how you made them feel. You don't have to explain how Fusion works, but you do have to explain what it could lead to. And that's exactly what that founder did. He didn't go into the fundamental physics behind Fusion, which would probably bore people and confuse them. He explained what it could potentially do and lead to, and he showed some exciting photographs, and as a result, the pitch was brilliant.

Number two is be passionate. Now, appreciating that nerves take over, there were a couple of founders up on stage who were less excited seemingly about their product and about their business than others. And as a result, as a listener, I wasn't as excited either. You've got to be passionate. There is a saying, "Investors back the jockey as much as the horse," and that's very true.

And finally, the third one might be a little unusual, but it's to be interactive. Now, I'm not saying ask the audience questions because you only have a certain amount of time, but you need to read the room. And if you are just reading off a piece of paper and again, appreciating nerves are a problem there, you are not going to hold your audience's attention. If you can wander around the stage, if you can free ball it, what's the word when you just... If you can just talk to your slides as opposed to reading off a piece of paper, you're going to do infinitely better. You need to involve the audience in your conversation. You're not speaking at us, you're speaking to us with us. You are having a group conversation. If that's too difficult for you, pick one person in the audience and speak to them. Pick the person who has the most animated face, who is smiling when you talk.

And also to audience members on that other note, as someone who does speak quite frequently, if you sit there with your resting bitch face on, it comes across as you're bored. So pay attention to what your face is doing when you're in the audience, particularly when you know the speaker is nervous, because it can make all the difference to making them feel a little bit better. So next time you pitch, keep it simple, be passionate, and speak with the audience and not at them.

Now, whilst Incrediballs is ramping up and we're beginning to hire people and building the team, and I'm so fucking excited about getting the band back together as it were, I'm going to talk about more of that in the coming weeks as things actually start to ramp up, and as we do our stability testing and we start our packaging journey. And in the next few weeks, I'm really going to start asking you questions like, what kind of box shape do you like? How many do you want in a box? Those sorts of things. Because again, community-built brand, I want you to feel part of the journey and I need your help. I need your feedback to know how you want this done because I'm seeing so many businesses do things in a way that is not customer-centric and continues to blow me away that they're doing it that way.

And I wanted to talk about the top five myths of entrepreneurship. So I do a lot of mentoring over at Business, But Better. And if you want some help, go over to businessbutbetter.co. It is an online education hub that has 50 plus modules and worksheets and things to work through to help you build your business, and it's totally free. There's not even a catch. I'm not even trying to scam you, it's totally free. So head on over there.

But there are lots of things that come through from entrepreneurs and founders who are on that site and they have all these weird preconceived notions that we all have. Now I want to talk about a few of them. So number one is that you need a lot of money to start a business. This comes up all the time and in some cases, it's relevant. To use Peter Beck as an example, he probably didn't start Rocket Lab with a couple of bucks in his pocket, right? Rockets are expensive. There are some things that are going to require more startup money to begin with, but I started Ethique with a hundred bucks. Yes, a lot of people get mad at me when I talk about that, but I genuinely did. I was a student at university, I had a hundred bucks in my bank account. I bought ingredients for cosmetics.

Now what I'm obviously not saying with that sentence is I had somewhere to live. I lived with my family at the time, they were very kind. I was very privileged to have that opportunity so I didn't have to worry about living so much because I had that. But I didn't start the company with a great deal of money. It was quite literally the last hundred dollars in my bank account that week. So if you are looking at starting a business and you're thinking, "Oh, well I don't have a $100,000 to invest in it," you don't have to. The best businesses are the ones that bootstrap their way to success. And you'd be surprised at how many do. Spanx, for example, the shapewear company, never raised capital. She bootstrapped that to a billion-dollar business. Incredible success, not talked about often enough. If you do need a little bit of money to start the company, there are things you can look at. You can look at equity crowdfunding, for example, and you can look at small loans from banks. Not my favorite option, but depending on your personal finance, totally possible.

Number two is that entrepreneurship is a solo endeavor and it couldn't be further from the truth. You can't do it alone. In fact, it may feel like a solitary journey, but you cannot do it alone. I maintain there are very few, if any, genuine self-made people out there because your community is made from everybody who's helped you from the family that got you there, assuming that's relevant to you, or the friends that supported you, or employers that supported you. There is very few people that can genuinely say they made it where they are on their own. And entrepreneurship is no different. It is impossible to build a business and build a startup on your own. You need a team, you need mentors, and you need a support network outside work so you don't have to do it alone. And frankly, if you try, it will be a lot harder. What's the saying? "To go fast, go alone, to go further, go together." I think I'm paraphrasing, but you get the gist.

Number three is that if you're not an overnight success, well you've failed. Oh my God, this is absolute rubbish. It looks in the media like so many people have gone from nowhere to everywhere all at once. But that's of course what it looks like. That doesn't show you the 20 years of hard work they put in beforehand. It doesn't show you the crying in bed or the stress at 3:00 AM. It doesn't show you the hard realities behind it. So a lot of people see these businesses that they think are doing so well or these founders and entrepreneurs that are just so good. They see them and think, "Oh. Well, I'm not finding it that easy of a ride or that hasn't happened to me, so I'm a failure." And it actually leads to a lot of people giving up, which is a real shame. If you are struggling, that is normal, that is common. That is the reality behind building a business. And media, well, they just don't portray that. Not any fault with the media, it's just a certain type of story sells. Entrepreneurship is grit, persistence, and hard work.

Number four, if you build it, they will come. No, they probably won't. You see this a lot. I see a lot of entrepreneurs get so excited about the idea, they don't ever think about the customer. And so many of these ideas don't have customers. And in fact, I'm trying to help a mentee work through this at the moment. She's got this idea and it has a very narrow customer in her mind, whereas I don't think it has any customer. I don't think the pricing matches the product, matches the customer at all. And I actually think it's a relatively easy fix. But the thing she needs to get over is her preconceived notions about this. And that is a tricky one. Just because you create something or just because you build a website or create a podcast, it doesn't mean anybody's going to listen to it or read it or watch it. In fact, they probably won't because there is so much out there competing for people's attention. You need to deeply understand who your customer or your listener will be. You need to understand what it is they want. You need to go and talk to them, find out what it is, rather than just assuming and deliver on that. And then you need to keep doing it. You need to keep understanding what their feedback is, keep going back to them, keep asking these questions. Marketing, customer acquisition are critical, and yet there's something a lot of people who get so excited about their idea totally forget, which again, understandable, because when you have an idea and you think it is the best thing since sliced bread, how is it that other people won't see that? They won't. Do not build something thinking they will come. They simply will not.

And then five, a nice topical one is failure is the end. Well, I mean it might be the end of something, but it's certainly not the end of everything. It is not the end of your success as an entrepreneur. It is not the end of your dreams. It's not the end of you and your value as a person. And I think that's what a lot of people get tied up in. They think that if their business fails, they are a failure. And that's not true. You've learned something. You've learned a lot of things, in fact. And you can take those learnings and apply them to the next thing. And you'll be better for it. You'll be stronger for it. You'll be more resilient for it. And you'll be more likely to succeed the next time. So don't see failure as the end. See it as a learning opportunity. And I know that sounds so cliché, but it's true. You learn more from your failures than you do from your successes. And I think that's a really important thing to remember.

So those are my top five myths of entrepreneurship. I hope you found them useful. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me on Instagram or TikTok or head over to businessbutbetter.co. And I'll be back next week with another episode of "Now, That's What I Call Business." Until then, stay fizzy, Ballers!

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