Is getting in front of people and convincing them that you have a great product or service one of your favorite things to do? If so, you’re probably in the minority among entrepreneurs. The truth is, many startup entrepreneurs who have a great business idea are fearful and unprepared to pitch their business to others.
Developing this skill can be one of the hardest things a new entrepreneur has to learn, but it’s one of the most important. Fortunately, like most things in life, practice makes perfect. The more a startup entrepreneur tells her story, the better she becomes at telling it. Almost every pitch experience is an opportunity to learn something that will make the next one even closer to perfection.
What is business pitching and how does one develop a business pitch? There are different types of pitching. The most commonly known is the pitch for funding. This pitch involves telling your story in such a way that an investor or a lender is willing to “show you the money.” A funding pitch generally follows an established formula and includes certain expected elements, such as identification of the customer problem and your unique solution, which is your unique value proposition. Add to that an assessment of the market, your vision of how you will achieve a commanding marketing share, a description of your team’s strengths and a clear plan of launching and running a successful startup.
Another type of pitching a business is inviting a strategic alliance partner to join forces with you in a marketing effort. If you share customers of another business that does not compete directly with you, but whose product combined with yours makes a better customer solution, you will likely make a stronger value proposition to potential customers if you can combine your marketing campaigns. An example of such a collaboration could be a mortgage loan broker striking an alliance with a realtor. There are many more examples of businesses that can align their marketing to become a more appealing choice for potential customers. This type of pitch requires an appeal to the potential partner’s needs to build a stronger relationship with current and future customers. By teaming up in an alliance, each partner has a broader product offering to market without having to expand their own operations beyond their expertise or available funding.
A third type of pitching is a sales pitch. Obviously, every business needs to make sales by appealing to potential customers. The sales pitch requires much more listening than talking. The successful salesperson discovers customer needs (problems) through asking questions. Listening to answers will guide the salesperson to pitch the benefits of a product or service that solve customer problems. In this way, the customer “buys” instead of the salesperson having to “sell” the solutions.
All three types of pitching require some research and analysis of the target audience and development of a solid pitch strategy. Practicing a pitch out loud with a partner is an excellent exercise. It is also a good idea to capture a pitch on video and refine the presentation to remove noticeable flaws and perfect the language and emphasis on key points.
The NaperLaunch new business startup center at the Naperville Public Library offers a quarterly pitch session for entrepreneurs to practice and prepare their pitch. The next Pitch Session will be Thursday, August 29, at 8:00 a.m. at the Nichols Library. The library’s Business Services Team members (library staff) are available for one to one guidance to put together a pitch for this session. SCORE mentors are also available for coaching interested pitchers through this entire process.
Get involved with our startup community and learn how to pitch. With preparation and practice, you will easily overcome the fear and your confidence will grow. It will pay huge dividends in the development of your startup!