Great post on pitching your business idea by Thomas Purves at http://www.startupnorth.ca. It’s a great reinforcement of knowing as much as possible about your potential investors (their background, experience, investment criteria, etc) and planning each presentation carefully to meet their needs. I’ve included the link and the blog post below.
Sometimes folks ask us, I’ve got this great idea. How should I sell it? So assuming you do have a great idea for all concerned (less common than you’d think, and truly step one), here is one philosophy on the art of the pitch:
Like all investments decisions, business plans are governed by two famously primal factors fear and greed.
So there are two pieces to any pitch:
1) The Greed: getting the audience excited about the proposition and bought-in to the concept and to the idea that your idea will choose one: a) make them enormously rich or b) get them promoted c)save the company
2) The Fear: sufficiently allaying all their fears that you are not a total liar, not charming and honest but totally delusional, that the thing could possibly work, that even if it did work that you could deliver it, that there aren’t hidden crazy risks, that you can protect the IP, that the competitors won’t steamroll you/them, that you can distribute it, that you can market it, that you have the experience to run it, that there is an exit strategy (someone will clearly buy it/them/you for millions/billions) or that it will contribute somehow forever to their bottom line, that it makes good money for them not just you, that they won’t get fired for it etc.
Just like any day on the stock market, your audience’s decision making process is going to be dominated some days more by the greed, some days more by the fear.
Depending on the audience, the nature of the idea and especially depending on what stage your business is at, the audience may be mostly interested in quantitative business case or a qualitative case.
There’s a catch that you won’t always know what kind of audience you’re facing before you walk in to the room. But this is why you are good on your feet, and not fixated on following a particularly rigid script or slide sequence right?
The more mature the business proposition, the more you should depend on numbers (and correspondingly the more likely the chance the actual results will measure anywhere close to your crazy-ass assumptions). For very early stage ideas, your investors or customers tend to be placing a bet more on you personally than they are on the exact specifics of the idea or the specifics of crazy numbers you happen to be sputtering. For mature business ideas on the other hand, it’s more about the proven case studies or the solid comparable proxies for similar or identical products in adjacent markets.
Try to never say things like “these are our conservative projections…” or “if we convinced only 1% of everyone in China to buy our product…”. Smart audiences will immediately, and correctly, interpret either of these statements as “you have no idea what you are talking about”
Anyway hope this helps
The best way to write a business case is always “it depends”
Mostly it depends on what you audience wants to hear, and how they want to hear it.
If you have your own grizzled words of experience, drop em in the comments.