Then somewhere along the tenth or twelfth time I delivered my twenty-minute “Incubator” presentation, I provoked thoughts of creating new businesses, who by themselves might struggle to get by financially for years. Yet in the Cluster, they achieved a 90% success ratio within the first 2 years. This success equated to their generating $2 million in sales and/or grew to the point of having ten employees.
Early on in my speaking career I was speaking at a Rotary Club in Berkeley where we were fed pasta, meat with gravy, and ice cream with a rich topping. At that time, I was not yet aware how quickly high carbohydrate meals turn to sugar. This will cause most people to experience sugar spikes and get incredibly tired. Fortunately, I barely ate a bite because I was too nervous.
When it was time to get up and talk about how the Rotary group in Berkeley could support the new incubator in Oakland, I noticed that at the second table back, a man in his mid-60’s sat with his arms crossed and he had his eyes closed. As I began to enlighten my audience, this gentleman began to snore. Most of the other members laughed softly, while still paying attention to my talk the best they could.
It took about two years to decide that in order to build the kind of business success I wanted, I had to overcome the fear of speaking in front of other professionals. To do this, I knew I had to practice speaking in front of larger groups.
I had heard service organizations were looking for someone to speak at their meetings, so I started asking everyone I knew who was a member of a Rotary Club, Kiwanis, Lions, or any of the women’s groups.
My first topic was “Incubators are not for Chickens.” I talked about the cluster environments that are dedicated to start-up businesses in a specific industry. In a business cluster, several businesses share office equipment and a receptionist. Consulting services and venture capital resources are made available to ensure their success.
It was a perfect topic for service groups because they are always looking for new methods that will get them more involved in the community. Cluster environments need support from the kind of people who belong to these service groups. When I began talking about Clusters, most of the organizations had never heard of the concept. They were amazed at the level of support that is provided and the national rate of success attributed to companies starting in such an environment. The level of response to my talks instigated a great number of these organizations to offer their professional expertise to Cluster clients.