Making your pitch to your Financiers is often the most important part of any business. However, it is often the place where most mistakes are made. Here are some simple tips to try and assist in this crucial time;
1. Get the talk-listen ration right. They want to hear all about your idea, but they get extremely bored after an hour and a half presentation using dull PowerPoint slides. The meeting should be a dialogue and conversational. The points should be made quickly and concisely, and let them ask questions and join in. The suggested ration is probably about 60% taking and 40% listening. Remember you are not getting paid by the word.
2. Be curious, Venture Capitalists love Entrepreneurs who are curious. They want to see you asking questions and challenging conventional wisdom.
3. Don’t name drop, this is sign of those who are not confident in what they are doing.
4. Keep it simple enough for a nine year old. If you can’t communicate your idea in two sentences, your customers may not get it either. Buzzwords are best left to dazzling your colleagues over a Christmas drink.
5. Have a specific objective. Come prepared and clearly communicate what you want from the meeting. Think of the exact desired outcome, and let them know. The Venture Capitalists don’t have a crystal ball!
6. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Have fun, laugh, and be yourself. Entrepreneurs love renegade mould-breaking dreamers much more than dull grey suits and power ties.
7. Defend your assumptions. You may have an exorbitant Business Plan that forecasts astronomical growth, but if you do, be prepared to tell the meeting how you plan to get there. You should know the numbers, understand the key assumptions and the moving parts of your business, and be ready to defend.
8. Avoid grandiose absolute statements – you are going to put eBay out of business………. Really? They really will want to know how you are going to do that.
9. Tell them the “hard part”. All businesses have a difficult part. It can be anything from getting customers to pay a higher price for your services than they can otherwise pay, attracting the best employees, sourcing manufacturing at a killer price. We will all have fun with the easy bits, but they want to know that you can address these challenges, meet them and exceed them.
10. Don’t start on chapter 5. You have been working hard for months at your business, but they are hearing if for the first time. Start at the beginning.
11. Let your passion shine. Everybody loves Entrepreneurs who are creative, who will dream and then put the dream into action. They want to hear how you want to make the world a better place and how you are going to do it profitably for both of you.
In Silicon Valley, only 1 in 300 sales pitches actually get money. Follow those guidelines and you will greatly increase your chances.
Remember, even if you don’t get funding from one particular pitch, move on and keep trying. There are a hundred different reasons why an Investor may decide that he doesn’t want to invest in your particular business. He may not wish to risk sufficient funds in this sector at that particular point in time, you may not fit his risk profile, or he simply may not like you. That is not to say that the next pitch you try won’t be the exact match for you.