It is every entrepreneur’s ultimate dream to grow their enterprise to a corporate, or at least to realize the business of their dream. To achieve this, one has to attract the right amount of resources for business growth and expansion. At one point therefore, you may find yourself presenting your business idea to a potential investor or a financier. This is called a pitch. It’s an opportune moment that also presents a free marketing prospect for your business.
With the number of angel investors and venture capitalists setting up in Africa growing each day, opportunities to pitch for funds are therefore immense and equally unpredictable. As an entrepreneur, you must be prepared to strike when the opportunity comes. You must be ready to deliver a killer presentation. Excellent pitches stand out and often elicit interest from funders.
Whereas there is no static or generic approach to all business pitches, the following ideas can ensure that your presentation stand out and enthuses potential investors;
Know your Audience
Understand who you are presenting your business idea to. Different pitching opportunities require different approaches. A formal pitch in front of a panel or investors is different from an elevator pitch done in a networking event. You need to ready with both – an elevator pitch and a longer-form pitch. In a networking meeting for example, you will probably have some few minutes. Having known your audience, utilize the most of your time to excite them about your business, the problem it solves, its growth potential etc.
Introduction may make or break the interest of your audience, literally. It is advisable you start with telling your story: Who you are(or your company is), the mission, the product /service and the problem you are solving. Be clear as this will determine whether the audience listens to whatever will follow. According to virgin Startup, your mission statement should be a quick and effective way of putting across what your business seeks to achieve, what makes it stand out from the rest and it should be an expression rather than a description.
You are pitching to win an investors heart. Show it with a genuine smile (unless it’s not a laughing matter). Positive and happy people portray enthusiasm. According to virgin start-up when pitching be the image you want to present to your audience, be enthusiastic and make your pitch impossible to turn down.
Be concise but very clear
There is no way you will address every aspect of your detailed 5-year business plan in a single pitch. Investors don’t have time for all that. You will not only bore your audience but might as well become anxious and nervous trying to remember every bit. You know your audience and prioritize the most essential aspects you want to share and stick to them. Keep your pitches concise and to the point. And while on it, RELAX.
Tell a story
You may need to tell a story about how your business got to where it is today, but this must relate to the audience and be as tight as possible. Avoid using complicated jargons or tech words, be simple and realistic. People connect and walk away with real stories and therefore you should have some few brief but compelling stories ready to share.
How far are you?
Connected to the above point and often ignored point in many pitches is the progress or success of the company. What the company has achieved since inception. Potential investors want to hear about key milestones achieved for example; licenses and permits, patents, existing customers, investments, signed letters of supply agreements and letters of intents etc. Present all these achievements proudly.
Present your business Model,
A business model basically communicates to an investor about your business idea or how it will be viable, or how it will convert into being economically viable. Your business model should answer the questions: What you sell? To whom? At how much? And, how do they pay you? Every investor wants to hear how the business that they may consider investing in makes money. Be very clear on this.
Understand the numbers
Each and every pitch will have a question on numbers; financials, sales, turnover, profit margin, breakdown of the investment made so far, how the money sought will be spent, etc. Don’t just throw in numbers, have them ready. For example, don’t say ‘we project to realize 10 million revenue in three years’. Who will even buy that? Instead show the breakdown of how it will be achieved. You don’t have to memorize them, you can write them down and have them for reference.
Show the product!
It is important to have your product with you during the presentation– even if it is a mock product. Investors want to feel the actual or visual representation of what they might invest in. This actual or visual representation of your product or business can do wonders the overall effectiveness of your pitch.
Practice as much as possible.
You can’t overemphasize the saying ‘Practice makes perfect’. You have to practice it to perfect it. Put yourself in different pitching situations and practice making the presentation in front of serious investors/financiers. Do it as many times as you can. This will not only help you build confidence,but also help you keep calm during presentation. Practice not only how to present but also how to be yourself.
John N. Mungai, Msc Econ.