Guest Blogger Megan Oleksyn, Winner of The Perfect Pitch Competition

It’s not all about the giant plastic novelty cheque…
After the Perfect Pitch competition

Perfect Pitch Winner Megan Oleksyn (center) with ABFI Executive Director Shauna Feth (right) and ABFI Academic Director Lloyd Steier (second from left)

Megan Oleksyn
southpaw communications

Now, maybe I have seen too many episodes of Dragon’s Den but when I first heard about the Perfect Pitch competition, I was already devising bald-joke-comebacks for when some Kevin-type judge turned me down. But in fact, the competition had many facets to it, and the pitch itself was only one of the components we, as competitors, had to prepare for.  Although you cannot tell from the previous run-on sentences, the business I pitched was my communications consulting company, southpaw communications. After the initial pitch in Bashaw, the finalists began the journey to the finals. This journey was paved with business training, mentorship and resources provided by the many partners of the project. Besides the pitch itself, the most significant component to the competition was the business plan we had to develop to be judged in tandem with our final pitch. It was this business plan development coupled with the mentorship that gave me the confidence to take my business to the next level.

After going through the competition and coming out as the winner during the pilot year of the Perfect Pitch, I hauled home my giant plastic novelty cheque ( yes, you actually get one of those and no, it does not fit in the drive-thru ATM slot…) and put that money to work right away.  I immediately contracted a web designer to build me a website (www.southpawcommunications.ca) to promote my business and display my portfolio. I also paid a retainer to a writer so I knew I had enough help in the future to go after the bigger clients that I wanted to focus on.  That was the fun part. It turns out lawyers, accountants and all of the other people involved in making southpaw “official” wanted to be paid for their services, so the money from the Perfect Pitch soon dwindled, but my part-time passion was now ready to become my full-time career.

The greatest success the Perfect Pitch has given me? Well, when I entered the competition I had (and needed…) a day job. Not anymore! After the competition, I incorporated the business I had previously been running as a sole proprietor and just recently, quit my day job. That’s right – no more paycheque, no more company truck, no more expense account but more importantly, no more boss, meetings or schedule! After the competition, I was offered some significant contracts that made me realize this could be more than a part-time job.  I could always work from home? Make my own schedule? Go to the lake when it’s nice and work when it rains? Pick my own clients? Hire employees instead of being the employee? I decided those all sounded dandy and went for it!

But besides the start-up funding and the ability to now work from home, the Perfect Pitch has also provided me with additional benefits. For instance, one of the significant contracts (a post-secondary education institution) I landed after the competition approached me because they heard of my business through a newspaper article highlighting rural entrepreneurship and the Perfect Pitch. Additionally, I recently received a loan from the Community Futures partner to secure a company vehicle so I can tour the country meeting clients and helping people to deliver their messages to their audiences. So, it’s not all about the big plastic novelty cheque. The recognition, promotion, and exposure to partners and networking that the Perfect Pitch provides will do just as much for you as the money itself.

Today, I write from my sunny office at our home at the lake. I am working on two of those big aforementioned contracts and have another writer in Saskatoon working on a third contract for me. With work lined up for the next 6 months, I will soon begin to work on finding more contracts, but until then I will continue doing what Alan Jackson told me to do – doing what I love and loving what I do.

Creating Pathways for Entrepreneurial Families (the rural division of ABFI) is a proud  sponsor of “The Perfect Pitch” competition for rural Alberta youth. For more information on the second edition starting August 10, 2011 contact Sarah Wray at 403.741.2630 or theperfectpitch@farmon.com

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