Every now and then we run into that little thing called frustration. The thing about frustration is it can be minor or huge.
About six months ago I thought I was in a position to start wrapping up the last stages of the corporate sponsorship. On paper I had two companies who between them were prepared to sponsor me more than the full cost of the trip to the South Pole.
About five months ago one of them dropped out. A month later the second company pulled the plug on their involvement.
Some of you might think I was angry - I wasn't. There are two things to consider here; the first is that this is a lesson. And the lesson is this: never stop searching for sponsors until you have exactly what it is you need. The second is that, well, the stuff just happens. One of the companies saw a massive drop in profits and decided lay off a large number of the staff. Others within the business were made the reapply for their jobs. The second company simply decided it could not commit to their original pledge. That's life, these things happens.
Seeing both companies drop out of the running did leave me frustrated. You see, I am now right back at square one. I have a few sponsors in place and I'm talking to more, but I had thought that by now I've been a position to focus purely on raising funds and awareness of supported charities.
What Have I Learned About These Frustrations?
First, never put your eggs all in one, or two, baskets. At the time things were falling apart, a friend of mine asked me an irritating question which went along the lines of, "Mate, why did you stop looking for sponsors?" To me the answer was obvious - two had already come forward and pledged the full amount. I didn't need anybody else.
As it turns out that my friend was right and even having secured corporate sponsors I should have continued to look for others. Maybe I could have persuaded them to fund either of the two charities.
Lesson One: Never Stop Shipping
Ship the story! Always!
Promises are one one thing, money on the table is a completely different matter. I'd taken both companies at their word. The money was pledged and all I have to do is wait for them to send the cheques to pay for the trip to the South Pole.
I never expected either company to back out, but that is what happened and I had nothing in reserve.
Keep looking for anyone who might be interested in investing in the journey and tell them the story (and the voyages you make are investments, for both you and your sponsors)
At the end of the day you need to have a plan for every possible eventuality, even if it goes something like, 'Panic and set fire to own hair'.
Lesson Two. Keep Pushing Until the Money is in the bank.
No money, do not pass go!
This goes hand in hand with the first lesson. Until you see cold, hard cash in your account then you need to keep pushing. Even having secured the verbal agreement of twenty sponsors, you still need to coax them into opening their purses.
Only when you have money in the bank should you relax.
A good guideline for securing funding is to engage as many people in the company as possible. Make it personal and get everyone involved.
Lesson Three. Planning this Kind of Event isn't a One Man Job
During the build up to this trip I have been training 5 to 6 days a week, looking for corporate sponsors, getting news out about the charities and what they do, working my day job and running the social media campaigns. Okay, the latter was sporadic at times, but I've now stepped up a gear and you'll see many more posts.
And I managed to burn out!
Learn from my mistakes and get help. Ask friends, family and even local businesses to help you push out news of your trip. Maybe some of them will help by taking on some of your workload.
There is one major frustration I do have one that is around companies approaching me with a view to striking up a partnership (sounds good, right? Bear with me...) A number of organisations have come forward and stated they would like to have their logos splashed all over my equipment (and naked body - more on that another time). For a time talks progress well and we share thoughts on how we can spread the news further and wider. The problem comes when we stop talking cash - a couple of businesses were surprised they would have to pay for and advertising slot. One suggested that having their log on my gear would be beneficial to me due to their huge customer base. I declined their kind offer!
Let me wrap up this post by venting my frustration: Yes, if you want your logo, or company name, on either my gear, or body, you'll have to pony up some cash.
I have now returned to a state of calm.
See you tomorrow.