Even though I am no longer on Wall Street, but I am still being asked from fellow entrepreneurs of the best ways to give a good pitch to investors. While there are a number of different ways, but I would like to share my own personal experiences. If you’re an entrepreneur (and you’re not independently wealthy), eventually you will need to make a pitch to investors to solicit funding for your venture. This forces you to use a completely different set of skills than you used to develop your business idea! Nevertheless, if you need funds to launch the business, this stage can’t be avoided.
Here are five tips to help you make your pitch a success.
1. Do some research on your audience. Learn everything you can about your potential investors. Find out whether they have experience in your sector – especially whether they’ve ever invested in it. Then tailor your pitch to the particular audience you’ll be facing.
2. Present a concise, clear plan. In your first session with potential investors – there’ll be a second session if you do this well – your objective is to provide a package of information that they can easily understand and that they will be able to repeat to their team. Don’t present too many numbers at this stage. Instead, focus on the viability of your business concept.
3. Know your material. You should prepare so thoroughly that you’re familiar with every statistic, claim, and projection – including everything pertaining to competitors – included in the business plan. You must be able to explain how all the data fits together and respond to any questions or comments – all without excessive reliance on notes.
4. Practice your pitch. Gather your colleagues and present the pitch to them, emphasizing that you need them to be brutally honest. Then listen to their feedback and revise the pitch accordingly.
5. Pay attention to your audience as you give the pitch. Watch their reactions as you talk, and alter your approach – within the broad outlines of your script – if it appears they’re not being persuaded. After you’ve spoken, ask for questions, and try to answer each query honestly and straightforwardly, using the data you’ve committed to memory.
While it’s impossible to predict what any group of investors will do – there are many factors that shape their response – a pitch incorporating all these recommendations will be impressive. If the result is not positive, learn from the experience by using any feedback to improve your presentation in preparation for the next pitch!