Entrepreneur Voices on Elevator Pitches
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Entrepreneur Voices on Elevator Pitches

The Staff of Entrepreneur Media, Inc., Jonathan Small

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eBook - ePub

Entrepreneur Voices on Elevator Pitches

The Staff of Entrepreneur Media, Inc., Jonathan Small

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About This Book

Hundreds of thousands of new businesses rise in the U.S. every year. But while 82 percent entrepreneurs fund their startups with their own money and the help of family and friends, that same percentage of businesses fail because of cash flow problems. That's why, no matter what stage of funding they're in, aspiring entrepreneurs need to know how to craft the perfect pitch that will secure them funding, strategic relationships, and future success.

  • The "Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch" show is now in its third season and continues to grow in popularity among entrepreneurs.
  • Season 1 reached 15.7MM people on social media and had 20.6MM views
  • Season 2 is projected to reach 20MM people and gain 25MM views
  • Offers comprehensive strategies from writing a business plan to creating a pitch deck to mastering performance to closing a deal with investors
  • Features winning advice and exclusive interviews from both sides of the board room: the entrepreneurs who have earned funding and the investors who have helped startups succeed
  • Includes worksheets, checklists, and additional resources to bring the strategies to life
  • Pocket-sized field guide perfect for the fast-moving, driven entrepreneur and the latest edition of an increasing popular series Entrepreneur Voices

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A good pitch deck can be the difference between exiting an investor’s office with a big fat check or a big fat frown. If your business is a shiny skyscraper on Fifth Avenue, then your deck is the architectural blueprint for how to build it. It’s the bones of your business plan. Without it, things will fall apart.
A pitch deck is also an effective way to put your elevator pitch onto paper. It forces you to organize and present your big ideas in a concise and coherent way, peeling off the fat and adding the muscle as you progress.
Like a good elevator pitch, a good deck is short, sweet, and memorable. How short? Some experts recommend that it only be 5 to 10 pages and 20 minutes long in duration. They should be heavy on the images and light on the text. And speaking of text, make it big and bold. This is your business plan—not an eye exam. Twelve-point font need not apply.
Another number you should be mindful of is the 90/10 rule. Ninety percent of your deck should focus on the problem, while 10 percent should focus on the solution. People want to be able to relate to the problem you’re solving. The bigger that problem, the more valuable the solution.
Always insist on presenting your deck in person. Face-to-face meetings are far more effective than an email correspondence, only to be lost in a stack of unread messages—or even worse, the spam folder.
Pitch decks are meant to be heard not seen. Anyone over the age of five can read aloud; it’s the master pitcher who knows that they should be the center of attention and not some pixels on a screen. Think of your pitch less as a presentation and more of a conversation. Your goal is to get your audience fired up about your business. A good deck can serve as a supporting actor while you run the show.
But be warned, the pitch deck can also be a crutch. Entrepreneurs can become so enamored with their PowerPoint masterpiece that they forget the whole human interaction component. Their slides are covered with words and images that look more like a subway map than a sales presentation. These people use their slides as a safety net, reading from them with their faces buried in their laptops rather than addressing their listeners directly.
In the end, the best pitch decks tell a story with clarity and focus. Like all stories, they have a protagonist (you or your business) an antagonist (the problem in the marketplace), and a resolution (your business strategy). If you can get those points across by the end of the meeting, you should be golden.
Tim Denning
My friend asked for advice on her pitch deck. She sent me two copies (always a worry). The first pitch deck looked pretty good because she’s clever.
I wondered why she sent the second deck. I opened the file and there were 30 slides, all filled with text!
I saw red. Swear words were right on the tip of my tongue to describe this crime against humanity. I was fired up! On the phone call to give my feedback, I did my best to practice a Zen state but within minutes demanded, “Who wrote that train wreck of a presentation?”
The answer was … the accountant!
This second pitch deck reminded me of the long junk messages I get in my LinkedIn inbox every day that tell me way too much information about something that isn’t tailored to my needs.
When it comes to pitch decks, more than ten slides is a good indicator that you’re on the wrong track. You know you’ve got it wrong when it’s not simple. As Steve Jobs said, “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
What Is a Pitch Deck?
A pitch deck is a PowerPoint or slide presentation to persuade key decision-makers to either buy from you or invest in your business. Here are some basics to consider when creating a good pitch deck:
• Focus 90 percent of the deck on the problem your business solves and 10 percent on the solution.
• Mention your competitors if asked, but don’t bother having a competitors slide. No one is going to trust your biased appraisal of the market.
• Use clear language, and avoid acronyms and jargon.
• Make the pitch deck highly visual with the aid of a graphic designer.
Your pitch deck is not:
• A glossy magazine
• A scope of work or implementation document
• A 100-page brochure of every product your business has ever sold and will sell
• An operations or instruction manual
• A history of your industry since the beginning of time
• The job history of every employee working for you
The End Game
Never send a pitch deck you haven’t first presented in person. Closing a sale very rarely happens via email. When someone says to you, “Just email me the pitch deck, and I’ll come back to you,” it’s the same as when you tell the car salesperson, “Can you send the brochures out to me and I’ll get back to you?”
The goal in sales is always to get a face-to-face meeting and bring along your pitch deck. At the end of the meeting (and only at the end) you can then send a copy to the attendees to look over.
Presenting a Pitch Deck
The most common pitch deck mistake is too many slides and way too many words on each slide.
People buy from people. Your slides should complement what you are saying, not be the focal point.
Professionals do this by showing a slide and then blacking out the screen once everyone has seen it. This way, people aren’t focused on anything but you.
Good slides have very few words and are highly visual. The detail should be coming from the words you are saying. Present your proposal using simple language. Some will know what you are talking about in depth, but others won’t. Cater to the whole audience.
The goal of your pitch deck is to get the key decision-makers excited and then back up that feeling with well-researched, customer-tested facts.
The million-dollar question is: Who does the selling? Not the accountant. In the example above, there was one big problem. Someone with no sales background wrote the pitch deck. This is common practice in startups (including my past ventures). For a long time, many of the businesses I have been involved with never made any money. We hired relatively unskilled call center workers to do the selling. We paid them minimum wage and then became obsessed with hiring as many people as possible. This is where the problem lies.
Then one day we got some good advice and decided to only hire quality salespeople from then on. The first guy we hired was paid more than double what we had ever paid before. We gave him an incredibly generous bonus structure on top to ensure he knew that he was only required to do one thing well: sell as much as he could. Within a single day, he outsold everyone else on the sales team. I quickly realized that hiring people who are not trained salespeople is a disaster.
Your business cannot make revenue unless you make sales and you need the best talent there is to do that.
The fastest way to lose money is to have money going out the back door through poor sales efforts. You need high-quality salespeople combined with a good pitch deck to win business.
Sales is harder than it looks. Everyone thinks they know how to sell because they may have worked behind the counter at Macy’s 20 years ago, but that’s customer service—not sales. There’s a difference.
Don’t have the warehouse worker, accountant, financial controller, IT person, operations manager, or anyone other than a salesperson do the selling.
Hire salespeople who have proven results and ask them to show you. Find people who can take complex problems and simplify them. Find people who can make problems inspiring, beautiful, and a pleasure to solve when you do business with them.
Grant Cardone
You should not try to start a business until you can clearly articulate how you help people in a pitch. Pitching is vital to your success, so it makes sense that you need to master it before you can launch a business. Why? It forces you to focus on what you can do right now and what problem you solve in the marketplace. It’s the value of your business in just a few words.
You will need to pitch your product, idea, or service to:
• Turn strangers into customers
• Attract investment partners
• Hire new employees
Before anyone is going to do business with you, you have to get attention. A million-dollar pitch is a short commercial that will attract attention and make the benefits of your company tangible to a customer. It should be 20 seconds or less and help the person take an immediate interest in what you do. It’s a simple statement with a specific goal.
How Much Time Have You Invested in Perfecting Your Pitch?
If you’re saying to yourself right now that what you do is “too complicated” to put in a few words, you probably lack clarity about what you’re doing. It might also be a sign you’re only thinking about making money instead of how you can add value to others.
A lot of people cannot articulate their value in a few words.
There are so many distractions out there, so you need a well-crafted pitch to cut through all the noise. People call me all the time on my shows with long-winded explanations about their business. When you’re pitching, no one wants to hear about your company history. I don’t say that to be disrespectful, but because it’s just the truth. You have to give someone a reason to want to ask more about you—that’s what a good pitch does. The other party knows the immediate benefit and whether it’s big enough for them to want to learn more.
What Can You Do Right Now?
Have you ever thought, “I could do that too” when you heard about someone doing a particular activity to become successful? I always laugh when people tell me stories like this. Let’s agree that you can learn anything. Here’s my question: is your idea something that you could do if you learned it, or is it something that you can do right now?
Before you can be successful, you have to base what you do in your reality. Ask yourself what you can do right now, not what you could do in the future. Unless you’re planning a career change, assess your income-producing skills that you currently have and center your pitch around that.
What Problem Does this Solve?
After you figure out what your skill is, you have to ask what problem it solves. If a lot of people are having the same problem, then it could be a great idea for a business. Who is your audience? Who do you already know in the marketplace that needs your product or that wants your product? Most likely, it’s not going to be people around your street corner. Look for a market that already exists, and see how what you do can help that market.
Putting It Together
Now that you have a business idea based on these two requirements, create a 20-second-or-less com...

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