In February, LocalShops1 was accepted as the Tampa Bay regional network for the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, one of the nation's top non-profit organizations dedicated to entrepreneurship and sustainability. And just a few weeks later we learned we were eligible to send them a bid to bring their 2013 national conference to St. Petersburg.
The catch? We had two weeks to put together a comprehensive proposal that involved planning learning excursions and evening parties, hotel budgets and catering options. We had to drum up support from community leaders, local residents and city officials; we had present the stats and facts to show BALLE that not only is St. Petersburg worth showing off, but that we have the resources to make it happen.
Smack in the middle of those two weeks I was to go on a mini-cruise with two of my best friends from college. We had been planning that close to a year. Everything had been paid for months earlier. ... I had to cancel.
• • •
The next two weeks were jammed-packed, crazy and stressful, but we pulled it through, with much support from the community, particularly Mayor Bill Foster and the City of St. Pete, the St. Pete Chamber, and the St. Pete Clearwater Visitors Bureau.
("We," by the way, refers to my brother, Mo.)
On March 16 we sent BALLE our bid: a 17-page proposal highlighting the creative people, natural beauty and local businesses that make St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay so amazing. We came up with parties to highlight the region's character (Sabor Latino! 1920s Glam + Arts! Island-Style Fiesta!); and we planned excursions that explored urban farming and community gardens, revitalization projects and green initiatives. We had dozens of photographs and essays from local residents, bragging about St. Pete.
And to really seal the deal, we sent them a care package, complete with a floppy hat, suntan lotion and hundreds of hand-addressed invitations from Tampa Bay residents, asking BALLE to come here.
• • •
Today we found out we didn't get picked to host the convention.
• • •
This, of course, isn't the first time things didn't go the way I hoped for. In my pre-LocalShops1 life, with almost 20 years as a journalist at various newspapers, there were lots of great times, but mixed in were promotions I wanted that I didn't get, contests I entered that I didn't win, jobs I applied for and got rejected.
And in my personal life, again, lots of great times, but mixed in with the usual setbacks of failed relationships, why-did-I-do-that moments, and other such things that happen in life.
But "not winning" this time, it sucks even more. Totally understand we can't always win, but ...
"Losing," from the new-entrepreneur perspective, is a rejection on both the personal AND professional fronts.
One of the advantage of being in the corporate world, I suppose, is that it's easier to separate "life" and "work." As an entrepreneur, it feels it's all one and the same.
• • •
There were a ton of great ideas, colorful photos and inspiring stories in our BALLE bid. Over the next few weeks I'll be sharing some of them. And the urban farming excursions and the island-style fiesta? Maybe we'll still do them anyway!
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Ester Venouziou, founder of LocalShops1.com, is available for freelance projects: writing,
editing, design or social media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 727.637.5586.