Ready to pitch your business plan?
Let’s say that you already have created your business plan. You’re feeling great and confident, especially after seeing your visions a lot clearer now. Putting them all down on paper has suddenly provided you with the insights and inspiration you didn’t think you could have. That’s all fine and dandy, really, but sentimental self-congratulatory gestures aside, what’s next?
Young entrepreneurs tend to make the rookie mistake of being unable to walk their talk. To be more precise, the creation of the business plan is just step one. Having it printed and sent out to potential investors does not make you accomplished. Those are not even half of the things you should do before you can actually claim your business is well on its way. Obviously, you can’t just expect the process to be as simple as making the potential investor read your proposal and then make a decision.
The next step for you to do – which could be more difficult than creating the business plan itself, depending on your presentation skills – is the pitch.
First Comes the Plan, then Comes the Pitch
There’s a reason why the pitch tends to make folks all nervous and anxious. Primarily, this is the part where you will be explaining, justifying or even defending your own business plan. More than a presentation, this is your chance to convince the investor that your business plan is going to be worth his time and money. It’s a make-or-break kind of meeting, and this is why the pitch is equally, if not more, important than your drawn up business plan.
Understandably, rookie businessmen may find difficulty in figuring out how to go about their pitch. Will there be a slide presentation involved? How much pie graphs can you actually use to explain your market research? How long should the entire pitch take? Will you be open for a Q&A portion, and how ready will you be for it?
All these are important concerns, yes, but remember that you should not needlessly add to your worries. The more you anticipate and over-think those things that have yet to happen, the more that your nervousness and anxiety will reflect on you. When doing the pitch, though, this is not the personality you would want your audience to see. You want them to look at you and command their attention. You want them to see a presenter who knows what he is talking about, confident of his plans and vision. You want to be that person they would want to partner with, and then eventually, invest in you and your business.
To help you better plan your big day pitching your business plan, here are some useful tips.
Create an elevator pitch – The elevator pitch is a crucial kind of pitch. Normally, this should last for as little as 15 seconds. You read that right: seconds. As you can imagine, investors may or may not really have the time to sit down and listen to a full hour of presentation for your business plan. Sometimes, you’ll only have the briefest of moments to encounter the investor, say, like in an elevator. It is up to you how you’re going to use this moment to give him a condensed, nutshell version of your business plan – in all of that glorious 15 seconds it takes from your floor to his.
Make multiple copies of your business plan – You never know who else might be in that elevator that could hear your pitch. It always pays to be on the ready to have a proper documentation of your business plan. When coming to your pitch, you should make sure that everyone attending the meeting will have a copy of it for their own perusal, or maybe even a couple more, just to be sure.
Find the Right Audience – Obviously, you will need an audience to make your pitch to. Yes, you would want someone to invest in your idea, but you don’t want just about anyone for the role. Although investors do enjoy mixing it up and dabbling in various types of businesses, it would be safer for you, being a newcomer in this scene, to play your cards safe and instead opt for someone who is more likely inclined to do your kind of business.
Know Your Proposal Inside and Out – The objective is to sell your idea to them. Go into that pitch meeting with that goal in mind. Australia’s Government Initiative for business, business.gov.au, reckons that you should at least be able to answer these questions:
- what are your reasons for getting into business?
- what are your business goals, objectives and skills
- what level of income will your business will need to generate?
- advantages and disadvantages of establishing your own business.
These are all rather introspective, yes, but if you can answer these questions should the investor ask you about it, it would simply reflect that you have really put a lot of thought into this business plan of yours.
Strike the Iron More than Once — Take this as fair warning: no matter how good your presentation or pitch may be, there is no guarantee that you will be walking out of that meeting with a check on hand for your business’ capital. You will probably get rejected, and worse, you’ll probably get rejected more than just a few couple of times.
That’s alright, it does happen. The important thing is for you to keep trying. Keep making those connections, keep doing those pitches – sooner or later, you will come across someone who will either say yes to you, or will at least lead you to the one who will.
Be Professional – Finally, when making your pitch, you would want to be professional. Keep your Powerpoint or Excel slides informative, but not cluttered. Make sure that your use of visual aids would be reasonable, and will not unnecessarily inundate your text. Look sharp, be in control, and trust in your business plan. If it’s really good, it will eventually speak for itself, but you’ll need to step up first before it does.
About the Author
Rabie Fares is the founder and CEO of Associare, a networking avenue designed for businessmen to get funding for business.