The pitch

You never know when a pitching opportunity to an investor may arise, whether it’s a pre-organised, formal presentation or a chance meeting at a networking event, it pays well to be prepared for any eventuality. Here are 10 key tips to help you on your way:

Perfect the elevator pitch

As the name suggests, the elevator pitch is a quick, comprehensive summary of an idea that can be delivered in anything from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. And in many respects it’s the entrepreneur’s calling card to any would-be investor he or she happens to meet, whether in the elevator or the world at large.

Prepare for success

Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” And brief as the pitching opportunity may be, the fact that it can potentially change the course of your idea forever, suggests that putting in the necessary groundwork is ultimately the key to its success.

Master the tools of the trade

In the age of technology it’s highly likely that any pitching session will include – and also be enhanced by – visual aids, product demonstration or other multimedia elements. For smooth, hitch-free pitching and to avoid any potentially embarrassing encounters, be sure to dry run your presentation in a technical sense.

Dress for success

Your presentation doesn’t just extend to the pitch, although perfecting the finer details of it can sometimes be at the expense of how you actually do present yourself. Obvious as it may seem, it’s surprising how many entrepreneurs forget to actually dress themselves for success. Looks do matter and will invariably colour (or discolour) the opinion of any potential investors. Forsaking the casual attire in favour of a smart, professional-looking suit also means that you act and look the part.

Learn the maths

The mathematics of business doesn’t necessarily come easily to every entrepreneur, which makes it doubly important to familiarise yourself with the stats. Any potential investors in your business will understandably want to discuss them in depth, so the need to know how the numbers crunch is really important. Get a thorough handle on your accounts, learn key figures by heart and prepare yourself a crib sheet or slide for any nerve-fuelled emergency situation.

See the bigger picture

Besides the preparation and the pitch, developing a wider strategy for your business plan is also key to success. You may have the best and most original idea in the world, but identifying how investors could profit from it financially, even if it’s just enough to repay the interest and the principal on a loan, is ultimately how you’re going to get them on board.

Work at the relationship

Seeing the bigger picture also means recognising that investors have a vested interest in more than just your product. But beyond the wider marketplace and its competitors, they’re also investing in something much closer to home: you and your team. And given that business often operates in the longer term, working at the human side of your business – the partnerships and the rapports – is another way of courting success.

Be passionate about what you do

You may personally lack the funds to get a project off the ground, but if you want investors to part with their own cash, convincing them that you’re investing passion is absolutely crucial. At the end of the day passion and commitment don’t cost the entrepreneur anything at all, but their ability to open doors is invaluable.

Don’t take risks, just avoid them

Business can be risky, but knowing what those risks are means that they can often be avoided. An honest and realistic assessment of potential risks makes very good business sense. The level of confidence and capability shown in addressing risks could also convince the most risk-averse investor to back the enterprise and its leadership.

Listen to others

While very little in business comes for free, listening to what others have to say in the form of pitch feedback – both as praise and criticism – is both free and invaluable. At the end of the day listening to others is tough; taking on board the more negative things they have to say even harder, but if you’re hoping to move forward with your idea it’s a skill well worth mastering.

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