By: Max Christern, host of the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge
Screw it, just do it. Those were the last words Richard Branson spoke when I interviewed him on stage while hosting the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge 2013 in Amsterdam recently. And if I had to summarize what he said during the nineteen minutes before we ended our talk it more or less comes down to this same phrase: Screw it, just do it. The five finalists who made it to this year’s final of the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge can learn from that.
Branson is a man of deeds rather than words, I found out. And as his deeds are always impressively decorated with great PR-stunts, others usually come up with the words to describe his success. It’s the power of storytelling that has helped Branson to become the entrepreneurial icon he is now. The five finalists who made it to this year’s final of the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge can learn from that. To have a great idea is one thing, to actually turn this into a success is really something different.
The three American women and two Dutch men who presented their plans for the jury, are well under way. I think the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge never before had such an impressive set of finalists as this year. To me, they all deserved to win. These are five people that can really make a difference in the world with their idea. However, only one of them got the big cheque to bring her plan to market. The others – even the two runners-up from The Netherlands who got a smaller cheque – are now facing a new challenge with their sustainable plan. A challenge that is often underestimated. These four finalists are at the difficult stage to have to find creative ways to do what is needed: scale up and accelerate, without the half million euros they were hoping for.
As a journalist I have covered many stories about sustainable entrepreneurs for newspapers and magazines over the years. They are often about inspiring people with a can-do-mentality and a great idea. But unfortunately I’ve also seen great plans go belly up at that tricky stage just after ending part one of their green entrepreneurship. That’s the part where everyone who hears or reads about your plan gives you a thumbs up and applauds you for doing something that will have the impact the world is looking for. Part two starts when the cheering disappears. Then it’s time to actually make your plan work and that’s far more difficult.
Often these less experienced entrepreneurs forget to use creativity and storytelling to accelerate the success of their plan. Many of them stick to technical details or fundraising only. Off course, those things are very important. However: if the world stops talking about you, the fundraising won’t go any better.
Branson has always been creative enough so people kept talking about him. That’s just what these four finalists should copy now. Screw it, just do it. And let others do the talking about you. So that you can make the difference you dreamt of.