At some point, most successful business ideas need some outside support to jumpstart or accelerate growth. If you’re at a point where your business idea is ready for that next step, it’s time to pitch it to investors.
But with so much on the line, you can’t afford to rush into the process casually. Careful preparation is a must.
Helpful Tips for Pitching Your Biz Idea
Not every business pitch is as formal as what you see on a show like Shark Tank. Pitches often happen over croissants in coffee shops or phone calls with old friends. Other times, they’re part of startup competitions or formal meetings with venture capitalists. The point is, the best entrepreneurs aren’t so much focused on the setting as they are on how to clearly communicate an idea in a powerful and persuasive way.
With this in mind, here are a few tips for pitching your business ideas:
- Take No More Than 10 Minutes
You should never (ever) – under no circumstances – take more than 10 minutes to pitch your business idea. In fact, seven or eight minutes of uninterrupted pitching is probably too much. Ideally, you’d like to land right around five or six minutes with the rest of your allotted time left over for questions and clarifications.
If you have 10 minutes allotted as part of a formal pitch, plan to speak for just eight or nine minutes. This gives you a buffer in case your pitch goes longer than you anticipated.
- Don’t Rely on Slides
Being overly reliant on slides makes you robotic. Rather than pitching in a conversational way, it puts you in a position where you rigidly read the words like a script. It also takes away the element of excitement and surprise, since most investors will have already read the words on the slide before you actually say them out loud.
It’s okay to have slides, but use them for visuals only. If you need to include words, they should be short, punchy bullet points and headers. No paragraphs or large blocks of text are allowed.
- Tell a Story
Turn your pitch into a story. People find stories and analogies to be far more memorable than concrete data points and product specs.
One good way to tell a story is by creating a 60-to-90-second explainer video and playing it at the start of your pitch. This combination of a “story” and “visuals” creates a powerful one-two punch that lends your pitch even more credence.
- Give Them What They Want
Investors don’t really care about your product or service. And they certainly don’t care about your branding or logo design. They don’t even really care about your history or mission statement. At the end of the day, there’s one thing they truly care about: Money. More specifically, they care about how much money you can make them.
Don’t lose sight of what’s important. You definitely have to provide context and share some of the stories behind your business, but get straight to the point. Show them the value that’s in it for them, as investors, and they’ll respond.
- Show Your Enthusiasm
When investor Barbara Corcoran listens to entrepreneurs pitch their ideas, she’s paying attention to body language, inflection, and passion. If she can see excitement in someone’s eyes, she’s ready to pay attention.
“My whole focus is on trying to size up the entrepreneur. I am looking at how much wild enthusiasm they genuinely have for their product,” Corcoran once said. “You can’t fake passion.”
We’re not telling you to fake your personality and be someone you’re not, but find a way to let your passion shine through in your pitch. You’ll get much better results this way.
Walk Before You Run
Most business owners and entrepreneurs run into trouble when they try to run before they learn how to walk. But as you know, you have to learn to walk first. In other words, don’t make the mistake of pitching your idea to investors before you have a clear grasp of what your idea is and how to explain it in a simple and persuasive way.
The hope is that this article has given you some useful concepts and tactical tips for pitching an idea in a way that hits the target more often than it misses. Begin applying these concepts right away, and your results will become more predictably positive.