Last week I was in the city at Martin Place. I had stopped at the City Bible Mission food stand to get a free hotdog (entrepreneurs have to capitalise on free food you see). As I was walking away and with my mouth full of food, a young girl interrupted me and asked if I could answer some questions. She had a clipboard and was in casual clothing, and had possibly interrupted me at the worst time possible.
After analysing her for a split second, I knew that she wasn’t the standard chugger (charity mugger) looking for donations. Nevertheless, I was being accosted on the street and I usually hate that. However, I decided to give her a chance and I asked if it was for a school project. She said no, but it was a trial for a job which required her to collect data from people on the street. She had to interview 5 people and complete a survey, as it was replicating what she would do if she got the actual job.
I quickly realised she must have “accosted” many people that morning to get those results. It shows a certain level of resilience to do that and requires you to put yourself out there, and not everyone can or is willing to do that. Let say she approaches 10 people in a busy area of the city, its probable that only 1 respond. She would have had to stop 50 people that morning to get 5 survey responses.
A few weeks earlier, I was at the EB Expo exhibiting our games. I must have been in a fantasy world thinking that people would just come to our stand. However, the reality was that many people were walking by our stand to go to the cyber games tournament or to look at the Comic stand nearby. I knew that I just had to approach people as they were walking past to do other things. It got a lot easier after the first one, and you have to muster up some courage to do that. I probably stopped about a dozen people that afternoon to demo our game and the responses were generally quite good. Not everyone liked it, but thats ok. Its all about getting the word out there and showcasing your product and getting relevant feedback.
I often look back to the experience when I use to work at my parents store during high school, and often we’d have a pop up stand in the middle of the shopping centre. We had to engage with people walking past or that were perusing our popup stand. I used that to help me at the expo.
Little did that young girl know, I had just finished pitch practice for Tech23 conference at Martin Place. I was the last presentation of the day and had to pitch in front of a room of strangers. That requires you to put yourself out there. Often, as entrepreneurs you have to do that. You need to sell in the face of people that aren’t willing to listen, that just want to walk by. You need to convince people. To persuade them to your point of view. You need the ability to persist.
After I finished the survey, my final words to that girl were “be persistent“. As that is what is required to succeed in life – whether you are an entrepreneur, sales person, athlete, or an inventor.