Funding, Friends and Lessons – How to get through it all

Every journey has struggles, triumphs, and lessons along the way and I’m happy to be sharing mine with you through my new podcast ‘When X Doesn’t Mark The Spot’.

In more than one episode we’ve discussed funding and support to get your idea off the ground. I was always tempted by The Apprentice in my teens, especially the Junior Apprentice but I never thought I had the personality or the ruthlessness! But I also thought that a lot of them were a bit thick and not about business so I had to regroup and rethink!

I simply googled ‘youth project funding’ and I was on the mobile network O2 at the time so when I saw ‘O2 Think Big’ – I clicked it and found an entire organisation that funds and supports youth projects. I am a trustee at Step up to Serve which coordinates the #iwill campaign and the #iwill fund which is seeing millions and millions of pounds going into youth social action so if you have an idea, now really is the time to get it off the ground!

When I set up Xplode Magazine, we got £300 from O2 Think Big and were told to think about what we wanted our five key milestones to be. What did we want our targets to look like? The end goal for me was the print the first copy of the magazine – that was milestone number five and I didn’t reach it.

  • Struggle: I didn’t get there because £300 wasn’t enough
  • Triumph: I’d got a very clear plan together of the costs, I’ve got an amazing team and the motivation is there so we went back and asked for more.
  • Lesson along the way: Plan properly and never underestimate the power and setting goals, targets and milestones.
  • Another struggle: looking for a meeting room. I wanted somewhere that I could get a group of 7 friends together to get this project off the ground but no one would get back to me. The number of unanswered emails and voicemails I’d left was battering! Waking up every morning checking texts, missed calls and emails to find that there was none.
  • Triumph: I kept going and I found the Bolton Council of Mosques (BCoM) – we’re not a religious organisation but they had meeting room space and the manager wanted to help.
  • Lesson along the way: Credibility helps and so does finding friends with faith in what you do – Inayat, the Manager at BCoM was giving me all of his contacts – asking me some really key questions and helping me hugely.

From time to time you’ve got to use smoke and mirrors as long as it’s not harmful or you’re deliberately trying to fool someone. My version of Smoke and Mirrors was the O2 logo on all of our documents – they’d supported us and although it was only £300, I never said that it was only £300 – I let people think what they wanted – I didn’t sway them – they could’ve thought O2 gave us £10, £100M or their investment may have only been a £5 top-up – the credibility helped hugely.

There are some fantastic people out there who want to help and it’s not that hard to find them!

For more on my journey, listen to my new podcast ‘When X Doesn’t Mark The Spot’ and you can find out how a game of tug of war in a field of mud prepared me for the real war in a community meeting room and taught me a valuable early lesson in leadership! Subscribe via Apple Podcasts | Listen on Spotify | Listen via AudioBoom

“When X Doesn’t Mark The Spot is for those who have ideas, those who want to make a difference, those who want to learn. It’s for you.”