Be bold in your business approach

Pitch and Polish is a national competition sponsored by Engen and held in eight regional cities.

False Bay College was one of three local partners and the event in Cape Town was held last week.

I was privileged to be a judge to evaluate and comment on the five competitors’ pitch and business ideas. I would also like to share five lessons that I learnt from the event.

I trust they will add value to your own journey.

Show up

This free event, like many held in our city, is held on a Saturday to give more people an opportunity to attend and learn in an interactive and fun way. It does, however, take up the entire day.

It therefore takes a commitment that prioritises long-term growth over short-term pleasure. Big ups to those who chose the former.

Here are two quotes that may help to set your commitment to long-term growth.

“Without involvement, there is no commitment. Mark it down, asterisk it, circle it, underline it. No involvement, no commitment,” says motivational author, Stephen Covey.

“When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results,” says business consultant, Ken Blanchard.

Speak up

One of the biggest fears that many people share, is that of public speaking.

Yet an entrepreneur will surely have to engage in this skill at some point in their journey.

It is by attending such events, and seeing how others overcome nervousness that the savvy entrepreneur can grow. Incidentally, all those in the public speaking arena have nerves; but successful ones have learnt how not to show it.

For me, I have learnt to welcome nervousness before speaking and translated it into “staying on my toes”.

An analogy of controlling nerves is that of tuning a guitar. When the strings are too slack, they give off a dull sound. If too tight, they give off a sharp sound and may even snap.

The lesson? We need a certain amount of nervous tension to both “show up” and “speak up”.

By great preparation and practise, anyone can improve their public speaking and control their nervousness.

UFC light heavyweight champ, Jon Jones, says it like this: “Whenyou have butterflies and you’re feeling anxious and you have anxiety or are nervous, that’s when you’re most powerful… A lot of people, instead of honing this power and using it, they allow it to just consume them.”

Tally up

The reason an entrepreneur should grow in the skill of pitching is that inevitably, they will need to pitch their idea to an investor or funder.

In doing this, the resilient entrepreneur needs to have a good idea of the numbers relevant to the pitch and be able to share this in a compelling manner.

Numbers like “how much are you needing?” and “how will you pay it back?” and “how will you apply it?” are key in the investors’ minds. The more you can succinctly show that you know your numbers and that these numbers tally up, the higher your credibility with the investor.

“Don’t ever let your business get ahead of the financial side of your business. Accounting, accounting, accounting. Know your numbers,” says American businessman, Tilman Fertitta.

Give up

Entrepreneurs have a deep love for their idea or business (We only kiss our own babies!), but sometimes they need to adjust, shift and even pivot their ideas where in doing so, it will be to their advantage.

Don’t be so blinkered that you don’t see the value in constructive feedback and “give up” that area that you feel is being challenged… that you may grow.

“Working at Pixar you learn the really honest, hard way of making a great movie, which is to surround yourself with people who are much smarter than you, much more talented than you, and incite constructive criticism; you’ll get a much better movie out of it,” says director, Andrew Stanton.

Step up

One of the words that is synonymous with entrepreneurship is that of hustling.

There is a negative connotation to hustling which is not what I am referring to (fraud or swindling).

Rather it is about obtaining by forceful action and persuasion.

The primary agent of this persuasion and action is you!

After gleaning lovely lessons from such an event, are you going to “hustle” and hold yourself accountable to action and persuade yourself to go the whole nine yards?

Magic happens when we learn the habit of healthy hustling.

“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle,” statesman, Abraham Lincoln reportedly said.

The Centre for Entrepreneurship (CFE) Rapid Incubator (RI) celebrated its first year of operation in its new hub on November 23.

We are looking for those young people with stars in their eyes, and grit in their hearts.

We are looking for those who we can help to move up in the entrepreneurial journey. We are looking for young people who want to launch their own business, or scale their existing business. Included in our search are those within the manufacturing arena. Please register your interest with Yondi Titi at 021 201 1215 or on email at

Steve Reid is the manager of the CFE at False Bay College. His column appears once a month. Email comments or questions to or visit for more about the CFE.