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Pitching your business idea: 5 steps to “Yes!”

Posted on: December 14, 2011 | Author: ATB Business & Agriculture

Being an entrepreneur requires you to have an array of skills, not the least of which is your ability to articulate what your company does and how it makes money doing it. Time and time again, you’ll find yourself having to “sell” your company—sometimes to potential clients, and sometimes to potential investors. Whether the potential investors are friends, angel investors, venture capitalists, or pension-fund managers, they all have the same questions: What, exactly, do you do? How do you make your money? And how likely is it that I’ll make money investing in your business?

Before you approach any investor, prepare yourself so you can confidently communicate these five basic things:

  1. Be passionate about what you do.

    Setting up and running a successful company takes a lot of energy. Show them that you have it! That energy is also contagious. When you’re excited about something, your audience will be excited about it too. Just realize that your passion and excitement for your products and services only go so far. You need to have just as much enthusiasm for your business plan and financial prospects, and these needs to be based on solid research and planning.
  2. Polish your elevator pitch.

    This is really just a 30-second overview of what you do, what makes your business different, and why it will be successful. The point is not to try to sell them on your business in 30 seconds. Rather, it’s to pique their interest enough so they’re willing to give you the necessary time to sell your ideas properly. It’s like a good movie trailer: It leaves them saying “Wow! I want to spend two hours of my time watching that movie.” Or, in this case, listening to your business idea.
  3. Describe yourself and your company.

    Who are you, and what skills and experience do you have that are likely to make you successful? What does your company do, and how does it do it? What makes your company unique? Answering these questions adds another layer of context and information to your elevator pitch. It will move your potential investors past initial curiosity and into “Aha, I get it!”
  4. Describe the customer problems that your company solves.

    Your business has to meet the needs of a particular market segment. What are their needs, and how does your business solve them better than anyone else? Be specific and talk about how your business improves your customers’ lives and how that improvement makes them feel, rather than how you simply help your customers to do something faster or cheaper.
  5. Describe your business model.

    Explain how you make money by solving your customers’ problems. No amount of energy and passion and market analysis will help you if you can’t prove how you’re going to make money. Do your research. Explain why the business model you’ve chosen will be the most successful, and how you’re going to make it work. Use real numbers. This is the only thing that will move your potential investors past the “Aha, I get it!” stage, to “Yes! I want to be a part of this!”

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