June 30, 2019
Practice Those Pitch Decks, Please!
Business plans don’t always require you to go outside and pitch for money, but having a solid business plan makes the pitching process easier. What you’ll need to do is create a simple, easy to follow twenty minute presentation based on your plan and how much money it will take to get you to the next level in your plan.
Investors want to know what you plan to do with their money. Take your minimally viable product to the next level. Hire developers and marketers. Design your brand. Launch to potential clients. Hire a sales team. Expand nationally. Globally. Add new products and services.
It’s not easy to get up in the front of the room and ask people for money. Especially a lot of money. I’ve been there. It can be quite daunting to present your idea to a group of people typing on their phones, looking at their watches and updating their social media on their laptop while you’re up there. I’ve been there. It’s like being a standup comedian and no one is laughing. You can’t wait to get to the last slide because you can already tell they’re not interested.
It’s also not easy be at that table feeling like I’m wasting my time, either. I’ve been there, too, and watched people flame out, freeze, and literally cry as they were presenting. They had no answers to simple questions. Their business model was entirely based on banner ads. They had no Plan B. They did not do their due diligence on the market, the competition, whether there were customers that wanted their product or service and how much they were willing to pay for it. Other people in the room would sometimes laugh and shake their heads mid-way through and tell them we’re not interested.
Start by pitching to family and friends and get their advice. Then, if you have people who can are in the business who can play “devil’s advocate”, you can practice dealing with difficult people and questions. Anticipate all the hardball questions and have good, well thought out answers. You probably still won’t get the money from the first few real pitches you do, but you never know. The more pitches you do, the better you will get.
Guy Kawasaki, a serial entrepreneur, evangelist and investor has some great tips for building a pitch. He also features an infographic which really shows how succinct and focused you should be in pitching your business plan. I highly advise anyone looking to pitch to simplify, simplify, simplify. Tell a story. Make impact.
You can always provide a booklet with additional details about your project for those at the meeting that provides a lot more detail about your market, financials, forecasts, team bios, etc. In fact, I recommend it. People may thumb through it instead of reading their emails. People may ask questions based on the content. It also gives them something to take back to their office which may keep you top of mind for a few days. You never know. If they all leave them on the table, better luck next time.
Take every advantage to practice your presentation skills so that when important pitches arise, you will have the story, the style, the sharpness, the clarity, and the emotions to affect the people in the room and hopefully get that term sheet.