As far as pitching an idea goes, business solutions very rarely sell themselves. If you’ve ever had to stand up in front of people with the power to decide the future of your enterprise, you’ll know how daunting it can be.
The following article is divided into two sections. First, I’ll address a few of the things entrepreneurs need to know about pitching potential investors. After that, I’ll provide a few insights into what resources are available to business owners.
Before that, however, it seems appropriate to discuss the more technical aspects of pitching, and why it’s a necessary skill to learn.
The importance of pitching in today’s economic climate
A recent study published in “Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice” indicated a direct correlation between strong pitching abilities and achieving success in business.
Results of the examination revealed that entrepreneurs who showed clear signs of preparedness and who had a strong grasp on their material were able to establish credibility with investors and received higher funding amounts, regardless of the project.
Thus, if you have a new idea, or are planning to expand your current operations, you’ll need to become familiar with the pitch as a method of seeking and securing venture capital.
Anatomy of a successful presentation format
What it really comes down to is having a solid understanding of what’s necessary to convey in the time that you have. The best presentations are those that can be explained succinctly in 30 seconds or less; we sometimes call this the “elevator pitch.”
Though the technique is derived from the model of longer presentations, it is often far more effective. Essentially, you must begin with an introduction and then proceed to explain:
- The premise or purpose of your business idea
- The realistic earning potential of your solution
- The main points of your presentation
Additionally, it’s important to recognize that you aren’t creating a problem that isn’t there simply to sell your idea. Your business must service a niche and have validity in today’s competitive world.
You’ll want the finer points of your presentation to be backed up by accurate facts. This is to instill confidence in potential investors and to prove that you know what you’re doing.
Part one: Tips to perfecting your business pitch
Regardless of whether you’re given 30 seconds or 30 minutes to present, everything you say in a formal presentation setting should not be memorized to ensure that your delivery method seems unrehearsed.
Fortunately, there are many ways for both entrepreneurs with new startups and experienced business owners to improve their odds of success in this high-stakes environment. Ideally, you’ll want to:
1. Remember that less is more
There’s a tendency for those making a pitch to lose their train of thought or break under the pressure. As previously mentioned, preparedness is the key to avoiding this.
Don’t give your investors the opportunity to undermine the points you’ve made because you’ve spoken for one sentence too long. When asked questions, answer them directly and move on to the next.
2. Leave your assumptions at the door
While your investors may be experts in their field, this doesn’t mean they understand the intricacies of your chosen industry. If this is the case, check your ego and be flexible to counter-offers to avoid alienating any of your potential benefactors.
3. Know what your investors want
Potential investors are generally looking to establish lasting business relationships with people they like and trust, in addition to making money. They’ll look to the team you’ve assembled around your idea as an example of your leadership skills and ability to manage your enterprise effectively.
However, it isn’t a bad thing if you’re the only one involved at this stage, so long as you’ve tested your idea and have positive results to show for your efforts.
4. Understand what you are asking
Lastly, your pitch should address specific criteria in a systematic approach and should build to a reasonable expectation.
Also, don’t make the mistake of asking for too much, either financially or emotionally. Business decisions are based on facts or, at the very least, a strong belief in the possibility of receiving a return on investment.
By following these tips, you’ll be able to increase your odds of success while capitalizing on your position. With that in mind, the following resource section should provide a clear direction of where to go from here.
Part two: Resources to improve pitch delivery and success
Despite the endless supply of resources available for presentations and business plans via the internet, including articles, books, and blogs, many entrepreneurs are still getting it wrong.
Below you’ll find a range of resources dedicated to helping business owners learn more about the pitching process.
GarageTechnology says it best when they state that the reason many fail at the art of pitching is because online resources typically have a much stronger emphasis on teaching than selling.
In response to this, they‘ve provided a detailed slide-by-slide breakdown of what a presentation should include. When continuing your search for similar resources, ensure that what you’re reading addresses your specific and immediate needs.
If you need to know what to include in your pitch, we’ve put together a guide that covers the seven key components that you must include in your pitch deck.
Likewise, Caroline Cummings—an entrepreneur who’s raised close to $1 million—shares her secrets, techniques, and tools for success in her free eBook, “How to Pitch and Get Funded.” This is a resource that comes highly recommended and is a must-read for entrepreneurs, regardless of the industry in which they’re staking their claim.
Business model apps
If you want to create your business pitch online and deliver it either as a single page or as a polished presentation, check out LivePlan. It’ll help you refine your business model and create a slick presentation in the process.
Hopefully by now you’ll have gained a few insights that will help you on your way to securing the funds you need to carry out your vision. Keep in mind that the learning process is an ongoing one and that receiving a rejection should not spell the end of your business idea.
Good luck—and happy pitching!
Do you have any specific questions for us about the pitching process? Ask us in the comments, and we’ll do our best to answer them for you!