You’ve spent plenty of time polishing your business plan, and you know that the only thing separating that plan from reality is that one golden opportunity to present it to the right person.
Lucky for you, as you wait in line for your morning cup of coffee, that perfect person just so happens to be doing the same thing – right in front you. The line is moving fast, as they tend to do, and though you introduce yourself and stumble through a few awkward pleasantries, your window closes and all you’re left with is a cup of coffee and regret. Not the best way to start a morning, or get your business off the ground.
The bad news is that you may not always get a second chance at those missed opportunities. The good news? You can prepare yourself to make the most of them by creating the perfect elevator pitch that will let you share your ideas with that perfect person in under a minute, or as the name implies, approximately the time it takes for an elevator ride.
If you have a business plan and you need investors or support, then you need an elevator pitch. The perfect elevator pitch gives you 60 seconds or less to convince someone that there is a known and defined problem and that your business represents a solid and much needed solution. Give yourself the best chance for success by carefully crafting an elevator pitch and taking your business plans to the next step will be easier. Here’s how…
Perfect Your Executive Summary
Yes, your executive summary is part of your business plan, and you won’t have enough time to read that to the prospective investor (nor should you), but it can serve as the perfect foundation for you pitch.
By definition, your executive summary is meant to serve as a brief synopsis of your key points, the ones you hope will win over your audience, whomever they are. If you can get that in order, you have a better chance of building a solid elevator pitch.
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Have a Concise Problem & Solution Statement
No matter what you’re writing – a white paper or a marketing plan – your work will be for naught if you don’t highlight two things: the problem and the solution. A good elevator pitch will quickly and efficiently include both of those pieces, first highlighting the problem, and then hitting it home with your fantastic solution.
When crafting this part of your elevator pitch, be sure to include your target audience or demographic. The person you’re pitching it to needs to know that you’ve done your homework and that there is, in fact, a need.
Don’t let the word “statement” fool you. This is likely to be longer than a single sentence but keep it concise enough to articulate the exact problem and how your business can solve it. You may have room for a few moving and persuasive stats but keep the extra info for a more in-depth conversation.
Highlight What Makes Your Solution Different
Maybe you’re one of those lucky entrepreneurs that cornered the market on a problem and solution that no one even realized they had. However, it’s more likely that you’re addressing a known problem that has multiple solutions, even if they aren’t exactly like yours.
As you present your solution, call attention to what makes it different, better, and worthier of an investment. Is it more cost efficient? Does it approach the problem in a different way, making it more appealing the target audience? Does it solve multiple problems that your competitors aren’t even focusing on?
Highlighting what sets your solution apart from others also does something else incredibly important to business development – it shows you’ve done market research. Any savvy investor knows that this is often the cornerstone of a successful business.
Sell Yourself & Your Team
You may have an excellent business plan and a proven need, but without time to express all of that, you’re also relying on how the potential investor perceives you. Do you sound confident in your plan? Do you have any professional experience or background that make you credible?
While the focus should be on promoting your business plan, if you have anything that would support the notion that you’re a safe bet (a track record of success, milestones you’ve already reached in your business development), then include that in your pitch.
Don’t forget your team or partners, if you have them. Do you come equipped with other reputable business partners who have attained their own share professional success or claim to fame? Including that information can help affirm the idea that you, and your team, are serious, driven entrepreneurs.
Prepare More than One Version
You never know when who will be the one to spring board your business dreams into reality. The connections you make and the audience for your elevator pitch won’t always fit into one mold. Maybe one will be a known financial backer while the other will be for a reputable member of the community or an industry expert.
For that reason, it’s important to have include some small yet distinct variations that appeal to varying audiences. The structure of your pitch likely won’t change much, but the words you choose or the emphasis you place on certain ideas will shift. For example, you may find one audience that is focused on the financial impact for their industry while another may be looking for how your idea can attribute to community development.
Write, Revise & Practice
This isn’t time for off-the cuff attempts or halfhearted brain storming. Your elevator pitch needs to be perfected, and that means writing it down, revising it as necessary, and then practicing it. Your pitch may only be 60 seconds, but it’s still a speech and should be treated as thus.
Grab a stop watch and get in front of a mirror, or better yet, friends and family, and practice your pitch. The more you hone details and practice, the more comfortable you will be during delivery. And, as you likely know, the more comfortable and confident you appear, the more likely you are to find success.
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