Published July 25, 2018
This is the moment you’ve waited 3 years, one summer Olympics and four seasons of Game of Thrones for: you’ve grown a successful business out of your garage and now it’s time to take it to the next level. Now it’s time for investors. Out of the 20 or 30 or 50 or so lenders you’ve contacted you’ve landed a meeting with one down the block. Score!
On your big day you make sure to arrive 20 minutes early to relax and dry off the visible beads of sweat on your forehead. You ignore your doctor’s advice to take the stairs and hitch a ride on the elevator instead as not to spill your coffee on your freshly ironed white button down shirt (did you think I was going to call you lazy? You are a hardworking entrepreneur after all!). As you enter through the steel doors a familiar face appears: it’s the investor you’ve been stalking on LinkedIn for the past three months. You have three options: you can press the emergency stop button to give them your full presentation (which may or may not be illegal in your area), hide in the corner hoping they won’t notice you, or give a concise pitch about your company to sell yourself before you reach the tenth floor. Here are our tips on what to include in your speech when you go for the last (and best) option:
Why Did You Start Your Business?
Don’t get into the nitty gritty details about how you lived in your parents’ basement until the age of 30 and thought that starting a business would be your ticket out. Investors want to hear why your business is relevant to consumers: maybe you invented a new dog umbrella to solve the problem of your pooch shaking off water onto your clean white couch. Or maybe you have a personal connection to the cat cafe you founded because your daughter loves kittens but you are allergic and can’t own one yourself. Investors want to be comforted by the fact that others need or can relate to your good you sell or service you provide and, therefore, will buy what you’re selling. Without this, investors are sure to zone out while you’re speaking and might even find the elevator music more riveting.
Why Are You the Man/Woman for the Job?
Do you have a PhD in animal behavior and are selling a dog workout tape? Spent five years as a chef and created an iron that can de-wrinkle your clothes and also grill your cheese? Investors want to know that you have the education or experience needed to take your business to the next level. Remember, most investors just want to write a check to get a larger one in return and do not have specialized skills for specialized products. If they think your elevator doesn’t go to the top floor they especially won’t invest. Think about it: would you give your hard-earned money away to pay for a haircut from someone who picked up a pair of shears for the first time the day before?
What Makes You Special?
You may have been called a special snowflake on the internet but that doesn’t always mean that your business is special (in a good way). In business it is important to have a unique selling point (USP) that sets you apart from your competition. When you specialize in a unique product that is actually useful you have far less competition for customers. This means that you (and your investor) will have to spend less on marketing and customer acquisition which means more profit. How many coffee shops do you pass on your way to work? 10? 20? Now how many coffee shops do you pass that sell coffee for dogs? I know which one I would rather stop in.
Ask All the Interesting Questions
Have you noticed that all these subheadings are questions? Did all my rhetorical questions about coffee and grilled cheese get you thinking deeply about your life? Asking questions is a tried and true tactic in presentations to engage your audience. If you go on and on about yourself the investor is sure to raise some eyebrows and will surely forget about you in the future. Remember that lenders are inherently selfish (they are using you to make money after all) so they are thinking in terms of themself. Asking rhetorical questions incorporates them into your pitch and they won’t have to lift a finger to figure out how they factor into your business.
Show Your Personality and Passion
Remember that investors invest in people, not businesses. They need to find someone they can trust to keep pushing their business forward as they’re too busy counting their cold hard cash to weigh in on marketing, design and product decisions. If you charm the lender with a perfect pitch they can’t resist investing in your business. Also remember when you’re in an elevator (or airplane, or waiting room or bathroom) you don’t have the data, spreadsheets and graphs on your sales to back you up- You must rely solely on your charisms to sell yourself. If you can make a great first impression with your passion and drive you can get your foot in the (elevator) door where they’ll think about investing in you down the line.
Ready to take your business to great heights but too acrophobic for an elevator pitch? One easy way to get and keep customers is by using a professional billing system. Easily create, print and send invoices using our site or app to make getting paid a breeze. With our fully customizable invoice templates you can elevate your business and go straight to the top of the small business world without the help of an investor.