Pitch your business idea
As an entrepreneur, you’ll need to master the art of pitching.
To persuade funders or lenders to invest in your business idea, you’ll need to present your business in a short, compelling presentation.
Fortunately, as a Mount A student, you already know how to create a persuasive argument and deliver an engaging presentation. In this module, you’ll simply build on that base.
You’ll learn how to:
- Map the content of your business model to a presentation format
- Create a logically structured slide presentation
- Design effective, professional-looking visuals
- Tell a compelling financial story
- Recognize common weaknesses in pitches
- Prepare for audience questions
By the end of this module, you should feel ready to take on a presentation to a potential funder. Maybe you’ll even decide to enter a pitch competition!
How to prepare your pitch
Crafting a powerful pitch
Pointers for designing your pitch deck
Take Entrepreneurial Action
1. Create a 10-minute pitch for your business, using the PowerPoint template below as your rough guide. (The template will also work in Google Slides or Keynote.)
- PowerPoint template for a pitch (downloadable PPtx)
- Financial story template (downloadable Excel file)
2. Test out your pitch on a trial audience, such as your roommates, your family, or your mentor. Ask them to give you candid feedback on both your content and your delivery.
Avoid these 10 common pitching mistakes
- Weak opening that fails to “hook” the audience. The best way to start a pitch is to launch into a crystal-clear, compelling statement of the problem you’re addressing. Use your creativity so you engage your audience emotionally and rouse their curiosity.
- Incomplete problem description, or a description that fails to present the problem in terms the audience can easily grasp. You know the problem intimately, but remember that not everyone in the audience will have your specialized knowledge of it.
- Emphasis on features, rather than benefits. Features are the parts of your solution that perform individual functions whereas benefits are practical results that users get from the solution. For instance, one of a smartphone’s features is a voice recorder. This feature translates into various benefits, such as the ability to capture a discussion without taking notes or to “write” a document by speaking it aloud.
- Overstated market. When you’re selling something no one has sold before, it’s hard to figure out exactly how large your market will be. Novice entrepreneurs tend to rely too heavily on broad-brush research, such as data about the total size of an industry in North America. Pay close attention to the particular part, or segment, of the market you’re targeting so your research will be relevant and credible.
- Unclear business model. Some entrepreneurs get so caught up in describing their solution that they forget to show how they’ll make a profit from it. Indicate your different revenue streams (ideally, you’ll have more than one) and the channels you’ll use to market your solution.
- No competitor analysis. Just because you’re creating something new doesn’t mean you don’t have competition. Every new business has competition, including the status quo. (Customers always have the choice to avoid solving their problem and just keep doing things the way they’ve been doing them.) Investors will expect that you’ll investigate your competitors, size up their strengths and weaknesses, and show how you’ll beat them in the market.
- Lack of personal credibility. As a new entrepreneur, you may not have a lot of business experience to “prove” you have what it takes to succeed. But you can give examples of experiences in other realms, such as jobs and extracurricular activities, that helped you develop entrepreneurial strengths.
- Missing or unreasonable financials. For funders, the financial section is perhaps the most interesting part of your pitch. So even if numbers aren’t your “thing,” be sure to provide sales and cash flow projections you can defend with reasonable assumptions.
- Fumbled delivery. Even experienced entrepreneurs get nervous pitching a new business idea. To get command over stage fright, practice your pitch in front of a mirror until you can deliver it with enthusiasm and confidence.
- Poor handling of the Q&A period. Once your formal pitch is over, you still have opportunity to impress your audience. So don’t squander the question period. Here are some ways you can make the most of it:
- Listen closely to exactly what you’re asked and respond as concisely as you can. The more succinctly you answer the questions, the more time the audience will have to engage with you and get to know you.
- If you don’t understand a question, don’t be afraid to ask for it to be rephrased.
- If you need time to think about a question, you can buy a few second by saying something like this: “Great question. I need just a couple of seconds to think about it.”
- If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so honestly—and offer to follow-up later.
- Describe the experience of creating your pitch and slide presentation (pitch deck). What did you enjoy most about it? What did you find most challenging?
- What new skills did you develop through creating your pitch and pitch deck? What did the experience reveal about skills you need to develop as an entrepreneur?
- How did you feel about delivering your trial pitch?
- How well-prepared do you feel to deliver your pitch to a real audience? What could you do to become better prepared?
- Nine things that take a pitch from good to great (Bplans article)
- 30 legendary startup pitch decks and what you can learn from them (Picktochart article)
» UP NEXT: Module 5 - Start your side hustle