There’s the windup, and then there’s the pitch.
The pitch is critical to every startup. It’s your story; your identity; your compelling reason for being. And you have to get it in the strike zone in order to keep your company alive and to ensure that it thrives. Pitching your startup to investors—or to potential customers—can be overwhelming.
You have to know your stuff—your budget, your offerings, your advertising, your brand story, and more. This is your lifeline to resources. And, your future rests on the success of your delivery. To assist you to perfect your pitch, here are a few tips to get your story straight.
Know your why.
Storytelling is all the rage in advertising, and now in business branding. Sharing your story in the most compelling, powerful manner builds connection and credibility among potential customers and with investors.
Once you have your why—the reason you do what you do—it is much easier to find those interested in that passion. And, it is often said that when you are focused on your why, the how shows up and the what doesn’t matter.
Have a plan—a booming business plan.
The greatest idea in the world will not have a chance in surviving execution without proper planning. A solid business plan that clearly expresses your strategy and tactics, including how capital will be used, plans to scale the business, and reasonable anticipated growth will give an investor confidence that there will be a return on their money.
A solid plan shows the investor that you are knowledgeable about your product, the competitors, the market opportunity, the industry, and the future of your business. Reinforce your business plan with the critical details. Determine your break-even point, then customize the plan to demonstrate monthly cashflow. When the business is your baby, your pitch is especially essential to build a community of credibility and support.
Sustainability is continuous viability and longevity. It is key to obtaining funding from VCs and angel investors. It is also critcal in earning respect from industry professionals and gaining credibility among potential customers. There’s a difference between a flash-in-the-pan and an idea that inspires early adoption.
Customers and investors are savvy enough to know when a product has the potential for longevity. Everyone who will invest, purchase or support your company needs to know that you will be around for the long haul and you have a plan for how to do that successfully.
Know thy audience.
Tailor your pitch to your audience, whether itâ€™s potential investors, a sea of customers, or a panel of judges. When speaking to investors, focus on the numbers, viability, and sustainability of the company. Let them know what’s in it for them—in the short term and in the long run.
If you are competing in a startup battle, presenting to a panel of judges, focus on your business as a whole. This will be the broadest pitch you give. Don’t leave out important details when you cast a wide net. If your investors are new to the industry, be sure that you speak in clear terms—don’t lose them in jargon and acronyms. Regardless of how well a panel understands your business, remember that you are in charge of the effectiveness of your pitch. No excuses.
Rehearse, a lot.
It may seem obvious, yet people often neglect proper practice. They may feel too much practice could make them seem stiff. While actually, the more you practice, the more relaxed, comfortable, knowledgeable, and “natural” you’ll be. This gives the impression of expertise. And, the better you know your stuff, the less likely you’ll be thrown off course by questions or derailed by nervousness.
The mere thought of public speaking makes many people nervous. The good news is that presentation skills can be honed, making the experience less worrisome. Practice is the secret to elevating your skills. Create and rehearse a variety of pitches so you can readily respond in different situations. From a one-minute elevator pitch to a thirty-minute talk, preparation and practice are the keys to communicating your message powerfully.
Show your stuff.
Give your audience a reason to remember you. Create a memorable phrase or give your audience hands-on time with your product (if possible) are a couple ways to be remembered. Consider what distinguishes you and what differentiates your product. Communicate that clearly and powerfully to ensure that, at the end of the pitch, your audience won’t stop thinking about your business.
Pitching your business starts with the proper wind up. It’s about the mechanics. It is like casting a fishing line with the appropriate bait into the hungry crowd and then waiting patiently for the bobber to dip with a fish on the hook.
Take all of the advice you have studied, ask for feedback, perfect your pitch, practice, and learn from every experience to improve with each and every presentation. Hone it and own it. And know that when you simply deliver your well crafted, well rehearsed elevator pitch, you have got the room interested in what you have to say.