5 Pitch Tips for Entrepreneurs Who Don’t Like Investor Pitching
There’s no question that being an entrepreneur requires you to wear a lot of hats – from product development to logistics to marketing, and everything in between. And while most entrepreneurs will admit that they are weaker in some of these areas than others, there’s one aspect that few startups can afford to fall short on: fundraising.
Pitching a business idea to a potential investor is not an easy task, even for the most skilled salesperson or storyteller. This means that fundraising is twice as difficult for an entrepreneur whose passion lies in the product or service they’re developing, rather than in the thrill of the pitch. Fortunately there are a few ways to make the pitch process both easier and more successful for these folks, starting with these five tips:
1. Start with the story. Most startup veterans agree that the best pitches tell a story rather than make a hard sale to investors. So instead of thinking about how to “pitch” your idea, think about how to tell your story.
Often that story is about you, but sometimes it’s about your potential clients or customers. Like a real story, create a cast of characters including a protagonist and antagonist. Build the drama by giving them challenges to overcome. Illustrate how your product or service helps them overcome these challenges. And finally, give your story a happy ending – for example, the profits your investor will reap.
2. Keep it simple. Your fundraising story isn’t a trilogy, or even an entire book for that matter. It’s one chapter – the introduction. Cover the important highlights, but don’t dive into the nitty-gritty unless investors ask. Your story should spark interest and conversation, which will set you up to discuss the details that the investors want to hear.
One way to put together a simple presentation is to write one key message on every slide, then build out each slide to illustrate the assigned key message. Another tip is to try to keep it short. If you can’t tell your story and outline how you’ll make money in less than five minutes, something probably has to go.
3. Be authentic. If you’re truly passionate about your business, that will usually shine through when you tell your story. If you’re not passionate about the business you are starting, well, you may want to reconsider what you’re doing. Investors meet a lot of entrepreneurs and can see right away when founders are not really connected to the idea they’re pitching. How do you expect investors to buy into your business if you aren’t even bought into it?
This is an area where having a “sales” personality can actually be a detriment. If you come across as too slick, it can camouflage your talent. In many cases, a good story with passionate delivery will trump a hard sales pitch .
4. Practice, practice, practice. If the idea of pitching makes you nervous, you’re not alone. We’ve all heard the notion that more people are afraid of public speaking than they are of dying. And when it’s the future of your business on the line, there’s that much more pressure to get it right, making it that much more frightening.
A little bit of fear is actually a good thing, since it can keep you on your toes. But the best way to alleviate the sweaty palms and racing heart rate is to feel uber-prepared, by practicing your pitch repeatedly. How much practice? You should be able to do it backwards, forwards, upside down and in your sleep. Bonus: all this practice also means you’ll also be prepared when a last-minute pitch opportunity arises.
5. Build relationships yesterday. One common misconception is that entrepreneurs only connect with investors through the pitch process. This simply isn’t true – you don’t need to be raising money to get to know investors. In fact, many investors are more willing to listen to the people they already have relationships with, so it’s to your benefit to forge these relationships early (sometimes even before you have your pitch down).
The bad news is that no matter how much you dislike pitching, as an entrepreneur you’ll probably still have to do it (again and again). But the good news is that prepping well and learning how to express your passion and your talent, can make the whole process much easier, more successful and potentially even enjoyable.
Enjoy the venture.
Are you an entrepreneur with student loans? The SoFi Entrepreneur Program offers valuable mentoring, networking opportunities and resources to help you raise capital and build your company. Some entrepreneurs also qualify for deferment. Learn more and apply to the SoFi Entrepreneurship Program.