A Guest Post by Lily Harris
Whether you’re a freelancer going it alone or an entrepreneur working in a small start-up, at some point you’re going to need to practice the fine art of pitching your busines to others. Whether you’re addressing potential investors or simply trying to target early customers, you’ll need to spend some time ironing out a sensible approach. There’s no need to get overwhelmed though – we’re looking at 7 simple, practical things to keep in mind when you want your business pitch to be remembered.
Keep it simple
Yes, you may have combed over the finer details of your business model for ages, but that doesn’t mean you need to cover every single aspect of your offering in one go. Trying to fit too much into one pitch can actually backfire, making you seem rushed, nervous or even disorganized. Instead, pare things down as much as possible. The truth is that most investors are primarily looking at the bottom line – get into their mindset and make sure you’re covering the material they’ll want to know about most.
You need to be professional, but that doesn’t mean you can’t emphasize all those things that make your company completely unique. Take a small, quirky business like Miss Macaroon – they’ve emphasized their playful, socially conscious image to great effect. If your business has a unique look, ethos or story, you need to place it front and centre, rather than hide it behind a bland and generic pitch template.
It’s OK to talk about yourself, and it’s definitely a good idea to tell a business story in your pitch. Don’t be shy about showcasing you and your team’s talents, and give them a genuine sense of who you are as a person.
Don’t ignore your competition
Investors like to see that you’ve realistically appraised your competitors and have a solid approach for standing out from the crowd. You need to really understand your value proposition, and convey to others quickly and clearly how you plan to position yourself in the market. Whatever you do, don’t claim that you have no competition – every business does.
Focus on the stats
A quick and effective way to convey information is with numbers. Use graphs, charts and statistics to get your point across, but also be sure to outline exactly how you arrived at your various figures. By digging into the number crunching you’re demonstrating a willingness and ability to tackle what really counts. It’s the perfect time to not only prove your familiarity with your industry, but to demonstrate how thoroughly you’ve thought through your business plan.
Do a demo or show off your product
Whatever your product or service is, try to make sure you’re actually showing it to investors. This point may seem a little obvious, but many entrepreneurs can get stuck in the abstract planning phase and forget that a physical product can paint a thousand words. You want maximum impact as quickly as possible – if you don’t have a finished product yet, a quality mock-up or diagram can also go a long way.
Make your presentation flow smoothly
A pitch is ultimately a performance. You need to be prepared. Build in some flexibility, so that you’re able to give a quick 10-minute run down or talk for an hour should the occasion warrant it. Your pitch deck should ideally be ready to go but contain a few back up plans should you need to change things up in the moment.
Try mixing up visual with verbal information, and use multimedia when you can. Breathe deeply and talk more slowly than you ordinarily would. You could even try running your pitch past a trusted colleague to get some feedback. After all, knowing your business inside out doesn’t necessarily mean you know how to pitch it optimally.
Above all, keep things simple and neat, and make sure the core of your message shines through. Practice so that you feel comfortable and confident in your delivery, and are able to communicate your passion and expertise rather than your nervousness.
Centre your business plan around your target audience
Your pitch essentially needs to tell the story of how your ideal customer finds your product, and how that product makes their problem disappear, in a way no competitor can. Be realistic and specific about your target market (don’t say “it’s everyone”) and help investors imagine who this customer is by creating a client persona. In simple, jargon-free terms, explain how exactly your product or service is used, and outline its features in terms of benefits for the customer.