Several years ago, I was at a venture showcase. A venture showcase is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to spruik their product to peers, the public and potential investors. 

I walked into the room and saw nervous and self-conscious entrepreneurs standing behind their display tables looking awkward. On scanning the room, I saw a young entrepreneur who had stepped out from behind the table and was speaking animatedly to a group of people. And I thought to myself, “I want to get to know her!” 

That young woman was Allison Nikula the founder and CEO of CareApp. Allison is the complete package, she is smart as a whip, has bucketloads of emotional intelligence, is an allied health professional and has years of senior management experience under her belt. So, it is no surprise that Allison has gone on to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in capital and has launched CareApp internationally.

I remember thinking at the time – “Yeah, she’s not going to need my help in putting together a pitch.” So, I was very surprised several months later when she called me and asked for my advice. By this stage we got to know each other quite well and that she lives close by I said come round for coffee and a chat. On asking her what the problem was she said, “I don’t know, I seem to have lost my Mojo.” I was surprised by this and asked her what had happened. She went on to tell me how she was attended an overseas entrepreneurial Boot Camp. And on the last day she needed to get up on stage and present her pitch. She told me how she walked up on stage her mind went blank, she couldn’t speak, and she burst into tears and ran off stage. This had never happened to her before and it scared her. 

I asked her what the lead up was to this pitch. And she told me a bit about the Boot Camp. The Boot Camp ran for a week and it was 24/7. All the usual things that kept her on track were missing. She wasn’t eating well, she wasn’t going to the gym, she was working 10 to 12-hour days, and was missing her two young children. Compounding all of this, was she was taught to write and memorise a script. (Something I don’t recommend and here is why.) All of this resulted in her feeling panicky and stressed with her pitch. 

I sat there and nodded and listened. And then I said to her. “Allison imagine you have a high-powered sports car that you were going to race. What would happen if you gave this sports car dirty fuel, punctured one of the tires, missed a couple of services, and ignored the high temperature gauge on the dashboard. How confident would you be in racing that car?” 

In business you are the high-performance sports car.

You need to ensure that you are giving yourself the right fuel, that your tires are pumped up and you invest in yourself and ensure that you plan in downtime to rest and recuperate. Without this, you cannot possibly fire on all cylinders. 

My recommendation to Allison was simple: put yourself first, treat yourself well and you will be able to perform to your maximum potential. 

I rang her the other day to ask if it was okay for me to post this blog. I also wanted to check in with her to see that she was firing on all cylinders. The life of an entrepreneur is a tough one. There is high risk and sometimes high reward and there will always be a rollercoaster of emotions. Allison has done many pitches since we last spoke, her business continues to grow, and I am confident that her mojo isn’t going anywhere! 

Sharon Ferrier
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