KCB Lion’s Den: 9 things I learned from appearing on the show

KCB Lion's Den – Lulu Kitololo Studio

If you’d asked me a few months ago, if I’d ever pitch on KCB Lion’s Den, I’d probably have said “no way!”

The thought was totally outside my comfort zone.

And yet, here we are – my episode aired tonight: Tuesday 23rd October, 2018.

The past few months have been all kinds of scary, amazing and overwhelming and, I’m so happy I pushed myself out of my “easy” place.

Here’s some of what I learned (and re-learned) along the way:

KCB Lion's Den – Lulu KItololo Studio

1. When you feel stuck, you’re probably overthinking things

When I was encouraged to apply to be on the show, I started brainstorming product ideas. I needed to think of something clever, innovative, unique, memorable… 

Nothing I came up with seemed right and time was ticking! I was giving up – there was no way I’d come up with anything good in time.

And then one day, it dawned on me: I already have something good. My product line. It’s simple (to me) and I probably felt it wasn’t novel enough because it’s something that I’m so familiar with.

I had to remind myself to look at things from the outside.

Then the rest was (a lot of hard work but) easy. 

2. It takes a village

This lesson follows me in every situation!

I had never written a formal business plan before. I’d used other formats – such as The ClarityKit created by my Afri-love Connection Club co-founder, business coach, Danielle Anderson. This had well served my purposes until now.

But I found myself with about 2 days to go until the application deadline and a whole traditional business plan to create, pretty much from scratch.

First, I hit up an expert for some guidance on how to put together such a beast (thanks Danielle!). I now had a clear framework to build on.

Next I created a very detailed list of all the composite parts I needed to work on which included doing research, writing copy, generating reports etc.

With this list, I could easily delegate to my team so that many heads were working simultaneously (thanks Rasoah!). 

Finally, having a couple of trusted friends/family/associates meant I could get some honest, constructive feedback on the plan I put together. 

3. It’s not about the money

Money is not a primary motivation when it comes to my business pursuits. They are first and foremost driven by my passion to create, share, connect, inspire and ultimately solve problems.

During the KCB Lion’s Den process, things got really exciting for me, when I started researching the investors. I’d always wanted a business mentor but hadn’t known where to start in finding one (plus, believe it or not, I’m very shy). 

I soon realised that this was an opportunity to learn from highly accomplished and seasoned entrepreneurs, on a personal one-to-one basis.

From my research, I identified Joanne Mwangi as the Lion I felt would be the best fit. And so it was!

4. Prepare, prepare, prepare

For me, preparation involved watching several episodes of KCB Lion’s Den, as well as Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank. I made a note of questions that often came up and practiced how I’d answer them.

It also involved writing my pitch down and coming back every few days to edit and re-edit. I rehearsed it out loud, with and then without my lines. I stood up to rehearse it, paying attention to my body language.

It involved attending the training session that the producers, Quite Bright Films, organised for us.

I read and re-read my business plan.

There’s no such thing as overkill when it comes to preparation! 

5. Just be yourself

Another one of those lessons that we shall be continuously reminded of! 

On the day of filming, I was scheduled to go second-last. So, after reporting on-set at around 7 that morning, I didn’t actually go behind the camera until around 6pm. A long day! Long enough that my nerves took leave for most of the day :).

I think they checked in around the time the producers took me for a walk-through.

“This is it!” I thought to myself. This is the point at which there is no turning back. The point at which I just have to have faith that I’ll remember my pitch and that I’ll be able to respond intelligently to whatever questions will be thrown my way! 

All I can really do now is be myself and trust that that will be enough. 

Which ultimately, is all we can ever do. 

6. Let who you are shine through

Is this the same as “be yourself”? Kind of but, this is the more proactive version! In my Soulful Branding course, I challenge people to really think about what they want to be known for and to align that with who they are as people. 

Preparing for shoot day had me putting a lot of what I preach in practice.

I had to think about how best to present my products so that they would largely sell themselves. I wanted to get across that my work is vibrant, joyful and inspired by Africa.

Choosing a representative sample of items that would visually complement each other and please the onlookers eye was one thing. 

Choosing the presentation of my person was another! Every decision communicates a message. 

I chose to wear something in my signature joyful colour, yellow. African-made accessories gave a nod to my inspiration, in a non-distracting way. I wore my natural hair big as I feel that’s an accurate representation of my energy. My outfit also included items that are edgier than my everyday, to give myself the extra confidence boost you get when you know you’ve made an effort!

It was important that I feel comfortable so that I could focus on the main task at hand: presenting my business – and myself – in the best light possible.

7. Don’t dim your shine

This is the super proactive version!

Every Sunday in my Afri-love Women group, I encourage members to shine their light. That is, to celebrate their achievements and creations.

We don’t do this enough, especially us women.

Writing my pitch for KCB Lion’s Den was one occasion where I knew I had to put in the right amount of self-celebration. This was a sales pitch after all. I had to convince the buyers why I was a worthwhile investment!

I believe there is a way to do this that is not boastful but instead, confidently demonstrates how you can add value to the other party.

Did I get the balance right? I’ll let you decide but, based on the good vibes that ensued, I think I succeeded.

8. Keep the big picture in sight

KCB Lion’s Den is, on the surface, a simple premise: enterprising people pitch for investment to further their ideas. 

It’s easy to get carried away by the numbers and to let your emotions and ego take the lead.

If you’ve watched episodes before, you’ll be familiar with the story of outrageous valuations ruining potential deals for what are actually really good ideas. 

An advisor the producers arranged for us said something which stuck with me: our pitch is really about getting a foot in the door. 

No contracts are signed right after the Lion’s pledge that they’re in. There is due diligence to be done and several conversations to ensure that both parties are happy getting into bed together. The show is simply the first date!

With that in mind, your decision-making can be guided from a more considered place. How can this be the start of a conversation, rather than just 15 minutes of fame?! 

9. Take a leap!

This whole endeavor has been a leap for me. Putting myself out there, to influential strangers, in front of a national TV audience. It’s so different to sharing on social media or on my blog and in my weekly newsletter!

On TV you have less control over the situation. There is no option to review and edit – what’s done is done!

There is a huge element of being vulnerable. You’re sharing the intricacies of your business with millions of viewers you don’t know.

You are willingly putting yourself out there for scrutiny.

But you are also putting yourself out there to connect with millions of new people who may find value in what you do.

In the final analysis, I decided that the opportunities outweighed the risks. I decided to stare down my fears (and self-sabotaging excuses) and live a little!

Here we go…

Watch the episode I featured in here.

KCB Lions Den

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