It was an amazing yet humbling experience to win the Venus Inspirational Women awards under the National Professional of the Year category sponsored by Checkaprofessional.com. I genuinely was surprised. I had not prepared a speech or even made sure I could get up from the table if my name was announced. I mumbled something into the microphone and stumbled back to the table in a blaze of flashlights and a slight daze.
Our two new projects, Women as a Force for Nature and the POP UP dementia theatre were proving to be a delight, stimulating, heart warming and gob smacking in equal measures. To create something that hits you with such a force of making a measurable difference in peoples lives made me thankful to the universe. The whole team were riding high on the waves of success and then, as was inevitable, we had to hit the lowest point of the wave.
This came in the form of many evenings spent writing a bit of a complex bid to try and get funding for my salary. Hour upon hour at the computer instead of doing what I really love. So far I had been working at the University as a Research Fellow whilst trying to build up Nature Therapy CIC at the same time - I knew this was not sustainable so was really holding on to the hope I might be successful with this bid. I even had a mentor from the organisation helping me with the grant bid and telling me what a success the enterprise had been over the past year.
Fingers crossed and well versed I went to London for a Dragons Den style interview. It was just dreadful from the outset. I had 20 minutes to place my pitch but 2 minutes in one of the panel started having a coughing fit - and the poor woman continued on gasping for air for the next 15 minutes. The other panel member had to leave the room and in the few minutes I had left I completely lost my way due to a bit of panic setting in. Unsurprisingly I did not get the grant and the feedback was Nature Therapy CIC was not focused enough. Surprisingly they also told me to get in touch with another charity which I had explained to them during the very brief interview that I had already done.
It was a great lesson, if not an expensive and time consuming one, but a lesson nevertheless. So many charities and enterprises are now bidding for the same grants that competition is intense and being in a Dragons Den (which strangely enough is exactly what it felt like) is definitely not my forte. I needed to acknowledge I felt aggrieved by the process, withdraw, lick my wounds, wipe off mouth, and come up with Plan B. Even with an equitable interview I might not have got the funding.
Moral of the story is: the mark of a great entrepreneur is they get knocked down but they get up again cos nothing is going to keep them down (although I will avoid the whisky drink and the vodka drink).