Now that you have learnt how to make a business plan (and if you haven’t go check out the recent Entrepreneurship Crash Course article), its time to learn a related and extremely important skill to have as an entrepreneur, which is how to pitch your business idea. A business pitch is in many ways just a verbal presentation of your business plan. You may pitch to different audiences but, in many cases, your audience will likely be potential investors. And while it is common for a pitch to be a face-to-face presentation (or a zoom-to-zoom one these days...), it can sometimes also be an email, letter, or even an impromptu conversation. Sometimes, a pitch deck, which is essentially a visual summary of one’s business plan, can be used when pitching but it is not a requirement.
Whether you are pitching your business to potential investors or customers, the following steps can be very helpful in ensuring you succeed.
1. Know Your Audience
If you are pitching to potential investors, research those investors. Understand what they have previously invested in, why they are successful, and how well they know the industry that you are operating in. By knowing your audience you can try to tailor your pitch and highlight specific parts of your business that would appeal specifically to them.
2. Three-Level Pitch
You want to create three levels when preparing your pitch; 5 seconds, 30 seconds (that's your elevator pitch), and 5 minutes. Your 5-second pitch is an all-encompassing sentence that explains your idea. In your 30 second pitch, also known as your elevator pitch, you should be able to sum up your business and specifically, what you do, the problem you solve, and what makes you unique to your competition in a way that is easy to understand in under 30 seconds. If you get a chance to use your 5-minute pitch, then you will want to expand on your ideas from the 5-second pitch and the elevator pitch. Nevertheless, remember to be concise and engaging.
3. Prep Yourself
As important as your business idea, business plan, or pitch deck is, the first thing that potential investors will see is you. It is very important to do your best to leave a good first impression and show that you're confident but at the same time knowledgeable about what you are speaking of. If your potential investors poke holes in your idea or give you any feedback, make sure to not get defensive.
4. Practice Your Pitch
Whether you practice your pitch or not may end up being the factor that makes or breaks your actual pitch. The reason behind this is because of the point that was just made. The audience’s interest, in many cases, is first driven by their judgement of you and how they perceive your character. And by practicing your pitch, you reduce the possibility of coming off as extremely nervous, scared, or even inexperienced
5. Tell a Story
If you have the time, it can’t hurt your pitch to add an element of storytelling in hopes of making your pitch more memorable and engaging to your audience.
6. Be Prepared to Back It Up
Make sure to have your business plan or at least executive summary ready to provide to your audience after your pitch. If your pitch goes well, investors will likely want to make sure that your claims can be backed up and that is when your business plan will come in.
At the end of the day, pitching your business can obviously be a very nerve-wracking experience but like with anything practice makes perfect. The more you pitch, the more used to the experience you will be until you learn what works for you and what does not.