My cell phone rang last week with an urgent call: “Karla, would it be possible for you to deliver a half-day presentation on “How To Create A Business Pitch” to a group of 12 aspiring newcomer entrepreneurs?
“Absolutely!” I replied. I recently came back from a two-week trip to Ghana, where I helped local women build their pitch deck they delivered at an important investors conference.
“When do you want me to deliver the presentation?” There was a five-second wait on the other line. “Can you come now?”
Thankfully, my Ghana post-trip high gave me the inspiration to start developing the outline of a practical workshop to help people how to build and deliver a business pitch. For those not familiar with this term, a business pitch is a short-length, high-value presentation about the business you are building (or have) with the purpose of getting something specific at the end: investment funds, a meeting, connection, etc. Think Dragon’s Den minus the theatrics.
Pitching your business to a group of investors is a great way to grow your business and potentially involve experienced entrepreneurs in your venture. Prizes can come in different forms: money; a combination of money and professional services (accounting help, marketing help, business coaching); and/or pure bragging rights. Whatever the prize is, knowing how to build and deliver a business pitch is a good skill to have as an entrepreneur.
Establish a Common Problem First
As entrepreneurs, we can get wrapped around explaining the product or service we offer and talk FOREVER about it. However, a good business pitch talks about the problem your product/service solves FIRST. The idea is to establish a pain point that your audience will identify with BEFORE you mention the product/service you offer. By doing this, you create a connection and you want as many heads nodding and people murmuring “oh my goodness, yes…” as possible as you describe the problem you are trying to solve for them.
And then and only then, you introduce your product/service (you can even do it with a drumroll).
This is where you explain how the business is going to make money – or is making money. Is it via membership subscriptions? A percentage of sales? Basically, you want to show the audience that you have thought of the different revenue streams and potential for scalability of your business.
Team/Who You Are
Now, this is my favourite part, particularly for newcomers. As newcomers, we shy away from our home-country experience as we learn that “Canadian experience” matters most. I challenge this belief when it comes to business pitching and presenting to potential investors why should they believe/invest in you. At the end of the day, people invest in people, not a product or a service. There are three amazing characteristics that are extremely valuable of an immigrant:
- We are naturally risk-takers. I mean, we have taken one of the biggest risks in our lives to re-root ourselves from our native country and risked it all for a better future, most of the time with little to no knowledge of the culture, weather and people. Immigrants are fighters, perseverant and brave.
- Failure is not an option for us. As immigrants, we work hard because working hard is all we know. Failure is not an option because by moving to a completely new country – We. Are. All. In. In a pitch, you need to demonstrate that you are all in your business and have done your research and have taken an educated risk in pursuit of the business dream.
- We are entrepreneurial in nature. Many newcomers come with previous business ownership experience because in developing countries, operating your own business (either full time or as a side gig) is a way of life. Any relevant business experience – regardless if it is not “Canadian Experience” is worth mentioning.
Don’t ever shy away from mentioning your newcomer roots if you think it will enhance your business pitch. Be proud of the risks you have taken, be vocal about how failure is not an option and if you have had a relevant business/experience before, say it. This is the one time where international experience will be viewed as an asset – but you have to mention it with pride an conviction.
What do you need to either get started or get to the next level? Be as specific and clear as possible. Money? Mentorship? A meeting? In many cultures, being clear and specific (especially when it comes to needing money) can be viewed as rude. In other countries, it can be viewed as a lack of socio-economic status. In the Canadian business environment, especially when pitching your business, you have to be very specific about what you are asking for. Hit the nail in the head straight and to the point. What do you need exactly?
In this amazing ONE-MINUTE business pitch video can you answer the problem she is trying to solve; the business model; who/what she is and what is she asking for?
Now, if you were pitching your business to me as if I was a potential investor, tell me in one sentence each:
- What problem are you trying to solve through your business/service?
- What is your business model?
- Tell me about you/your team
- What are you seeking for?
If you able to answer these questions in a tight, concise and eloquent way, you have a pretty good start to the outline of a great business pitch!
Hot Tip: search “Business Pitch Competition (and add your local city) into Google. I can guarantee you will get at least three opportunities for you to get on stage, pitch your business and have the opportunity of winning prizes to help you kick-start or grow your business.