The life of an entrepreneur involves a lot of pitching. Not only should you ask different types of investors for funding, but you should also leverage your contacts to land advantageous meetings, find mentors, ask for business advice, evaluate your product’s viability, and just get the word out about what you’re doing. A startup pitch can happen at any moment — when you’re standing in line at the grocery store, picking up your child from soccer practice, or networking at a conference. Every pitch is an opportunity to learn something, make a connection, and perfect your presentation for next time.
So, whether you’re pitching to investors or making conversation at an industry event, here are some of the best ways to make your pitch stand out.
1. Share your why.
Passion is one of the most important parts of business, though it’s rarely outlined in the business plan. Tell people why you decided to start your business, why you’re taking this risk, why what you’re doing matters to you. Eliciting an emotional reaction in your listeners makes you memorable.
2. Outline the problem you’re solving.
A good product or service does more than look slick or function well. It solves a problem in your customer’s life. That problem might be universal or particular to a specific industry or customer base. Either way, people like things that make life on this planet a little easier. Explain how your business will do that and speak to your differentiators.
3. Describe your customer.
Who’s going to buy this thing? What’s the market like for it? This is where you let your market research shine. If you’re solving someone’s problem, then explain whose problem it is and why they’ll pay for a solution.
4. Establish credibility.
You may not have much time to cover everything, especially in a two-minute pitch, but make sure you introduce yourself and explain why you’re the one who can make this business successful. What’s your unique insight or special ability? What experience do you have that others don’t?
5. Include your team.
If you have co-founders or foundational team members, mention them in your pitch. Briefly touch on their expertise and experience. Let people know that there are others behind you who complement and expand upon your own talents.
6. Tell them what other people think.
You have people who believe in you — friends and family, mentors, co-founders, even early customers. If your product is incredible and your business is ready to explode, your audience shouldn’t have to take your word for it. Share a testimonial. Mention people who’ve partnered with you. If other people like your idea, your audience will too.
7. Explain how you plan to make money.
If you’re not pitching to investors, you don’t have to go into too much detail here. But it’s never a bad idea to convince people that your business will turn a profit. If your audience can envision how you’ll bring in revenue and scale up, they’re more likely to put in a good word for you where you need it.
8. Describe where you want to go.
Don’t be shy: Share your long-term business goals, even your biggest ones. You can skip the specific success metrics — unless you’re in a longer pitch meeting with investors — but let people know that you’re thinking about the future.
9. Share your successes.
Even if you’re in the earliest stages of your business, you’ve probably seen some success already. You’ve raised a little bit of money. You’ve been featured in the local media. You’ve got interest from an influential name in the industry or your community. Whatever it is you’ve accomplished, even if it’s just writing a solid business plan, brag a little about it. Show your audience that you can get things done.
10. Repeat key phrases for emphasis.
Advertisers say people need to hear something seven times before they remember it. You don’t want to give someone the same pitch seven times but do repeat the things you want them to remember, whether it’s an important word that you echo throughout the pitch or a key point you repeat in a few different ways.
11. Start and/or end with a story.
This is the golden rule of any form of public speaking. Stories connect people, elicit emotions, and drive action. A quick anecdote — funny, heartwarming, or dramatic — can bestow some much-needed humanity into all that business lingo.
12. Make the ask.
Don’t forget to tell your audience what you need from them. That might be funding, but it could also be a meeting with someone they know, an opinion on the product, or the opportunity to pitch them again in more detail. If you’re not sure what your audience can offer, ask them what they would do in your situation. Maybe they know someone or can offer a favor they wouldn’t otherwise consider.
Remember that there’s always another opportunity, no matter how well or poorly any single pitch goes. Learn from what went well — and what didn’t. Be grateful that you had one more chance to practice. And then get ready to pitch again.
Here are a few helpful articles that we looked at for startup pitch inspiration when writing this blog:
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