An Entrepreneurial Coach Offers Advice on Creating that Winning Business Pitch
Guest Blog: Scott Rouse, The Nashville Entrepreneur Center
From Guy Kawasaki and Seth Godin to Carmine Gallo, much has been written about presentations and the creation of a startup pitch that results in funding. However, all of this priceless information presents a problem. And it’s The Mother of All Pitch Problems.
The problem is this:
The tendency for most entrepreneurs is to take pieces and parts of the information gathered from these multiple and credible sources and use them to create an investor pitch. (In other words, they try to cram a bit everything they’ve ever learned from Steve Jobs and the “pitch gods” about pitching and presentations into a single pitch).
From a logical perspective that sounds exactly like what you should do. However, from a real world perspective it doesn’t work very well. And here’s why…
Why You Aren't Pitching Correctly
The #1 key to creating an investable pitch is simplicity and structure.
If your pitch isn’t structured correctly, even though you have the best information on pitching and presentations that Google can find and money can buy, you will present a Slide Deck of Confusion as your pitch and you will not get funded.
For example, you can have parts of the most famous works of art in history - an eye from the Mona Lisa, one of the hands from the Sistine Chapel, some stars from a Van Gogh, a head from a Picasso, a foot from the statue of David and if you put them all together, it would look kind of cool I guess, but to art critics it would look odd and make little or no sense.
The same goes when creating your pitch. On the Intro Slide, if your Purpose Statement has nothing to do with the idea you’re pitching, or if your financial charts are wonky, or your Business Model Slide looks like one of those heart worm charts on the wall at your Vet’s office, then the investor/s will see you as the latest host of “Entrepreneur Amateur Hour” and again, you will not get funded.
For you, the most frustrating thing is the inability to see the confusion in your pitch. You can’t see it because you have “The Curse of Knowledge”. You know the intricacies of what your idea is and does. You have no problem understanding anything in your pitch all the way down to the cellular level. This is the absolute best place to be while at the same time it’s the absolute worst place to be.
How do you keep this from happening?
The key to avoiding this un-Holy conglomeration is keeping everything about your pitch simple and easy to understand.
To do that, do this:
Answer these 9 questions about your idea:
- What is it and who has one like it?
- Who are you potential customers?
- How are you going to get this product to those customers?
- What’s going to make them fall in love with your idea, product, or service?
- What exactly do you need to design and build this product?
- What relationships do you need to make this possible?
- What are the 5 to 9 different products than can be made from the exhaust or the “leftovers” after making this product?
- How much money does it cost to do all of this.
- How much money will you make from all of this?
These questions are from a tool we created and use at The Nashville Entrepreneur Center called The IdeaFrame. It’s the first thing we have every entrepreneur who walks through our doors fill out. It shows us how much they know and don’t know about their idea. It’s a tool you can download free here: IdeaFrame.info
After sending your idea through the IdeaFrame:
Now you’re gonna need something to hang that new information on so it makes sense in your pitch. That something is the super-structure you’re gonna build your pitch on top of. It’s called The Investable Slide Deck.
That structure lays out like this:
- Why Now
- Business Model
- Underlying Magic & Technology
- Marketing & Sales
- Intellectual Property
- Your Team
- Projections & Milestones
- Status & Timeline
- The Ask
- The Outro
- Important Appendix Slides for Questions
The order is similar to some of the classic pitch deck structures, but with a few tweaks. (You can download a more detailed pdf version of the structure here: SideDeck.info).
The Body Language Keys
The importance of how you look, act, and sound as you execute your pitch cannot be stressed enough. Luckily, a large part of my skill set comes from my being an interrogator. So I have an understanding of non verbal communication that most body language experts out in the wild have only scratched the surface of.
Before meeting the investors and pitching to them you must remove all of those little gestures of nervousness and doubt. You’ve got to replace them with the moves and gestures of confidence that suggest you are in charge and have everything under control.
Here are 4 tips to give you a boost of confidence with your body language:
- When an investor asks you a question and you don’t know the answer, tell them. Also let them know you’ll have that information to them before the sun sets.
- Be confident in knowing it’s okay to break eye contact during your answer. The person who is being deceptive won’t break eye contact so they can keep looking at the investor to make sure the answer worked.
- Don’t stand with your hands behind your back. I know you won’t put them in your pocket. Place your hands in front of you with the finger tips of your right hand meeting the finger tips of your left hand. Keep your hands just above your navel. Now you look like a CEO.
- Don’t answer YES with your head shaking NO. And Don’t answer NO with your head nodding YES.
The Bottom Line
When decoding body language the brain is trying to figure out if a person is experiencing comfort or discomfort. So you need to look and feel relaxed. I know it’s easier said than done.
This will help. 5 to 10 minutes before you go in to the pitch meeting take 10 deep breaths and let them out slowly. I promise you will feel so much more confident. That’s because your brain will oxygenated and releasing endorphins that will make it extremely easy for you to think, relax, pitch, and answer questions. Trust me. It works.
Not long ago it was brought to my attention that in the last 5 years, every entrepreneur I had trained 1-on-1 to use the same tools and formulas that I’ve just shared with you, had been funded or won their pitch contest or both.
That’s when we decided to put this method and the rest of the pitch tools and information into a form that any entrepreneur could quickly learn and easily use. If you found this information helpful and think you might want to go even deeper into this structure and learn more, there are free videos and even more information and tools at InvestablePitch.com.
About Scott Rouse
As a behavior analyst and body language expert, Scott Rouse holds multiple certificates in advanced interrogation training and has been trained along side the FBI, Secret Service, U.S. Military Intelligence, and the Department of Defense. His extensive training, education, and practice of nonverbal communication has made him an expert and consultant to law enforcement as well as successful CEO’s, attorneys, executives, and entertainers. He is also a Grammy-nominated producer and TEDx Speaker.