Successful entrepreneurs are usually armed with an ABC mindset. That is the Always Be Closing mindset that sales training courses teach us, but as an entrepreneur we should always be alert to potential opportunities to build our networks. We never know where our next key client could come from, rising from a casual chat in a coffee shop, or the much-maligned elevator where your 30 second pitch needs to be on point.
There are also the formal pitches, where the business owner is presenting the business in a favourable light to potential funders or investors. This is to raise funds to grow and scale the business rapidly and where the cash generated by business operations will not allow for this progression. The purpose of the formal pitch deck is to showcase the business to an external audience to represent the business model and structure to impart a better understanding so that the audience can make an informed decision on whether to invest in your business or not.
Whether the pitch is for one minute, seven minutes, or an hour, the basic structure remains the same for them all. A pitch deck is usually a brief presentation which gives an overview about your business to the potential investors. A pitch deck should tell a story about your business. The deck not only should answer all the business-related questions of the investors, but also should be engaging. A great pitch deck starts by stating the problem, includes the business model and your solution, and ends with your call to action.
Although it may seem to be an obvious inclusion in your pitch deck, always start by introducing yourself and your company. A surprising number of investors have been left wondering just who it was that just pitched to them. “My name is….” is a powerful boost to your self-confidence and it also creates a positive first impression.
Executive summary, a version of your elevator pitch.
This is a quick overview of your idea, background and experience. This overview should provide clarity on the rest of the pitch to come and on your business strategy.
State the problem that you have identified to make it clear that it provides an opportunity to generate revenue if it can be exploited profitably. Explain the opportunity clearly by using diagrams and data to back up your argument. Always remember that your audience does not have the same insight into this problem.
This is where many entrepreneurs tend to focus on their product or service. Ad nauseam, instead of moving directly from the problem to your solution. While you may be extremely passionate and excited at the opportunities to conquer the world, make sure that your audience understands your solution and can buy into it. Use this section to showcase your product and its various highlights. Use highlights without going into excruciating detail. People just want to know what it does, not how it performs its magic.
This is a crucial section of the pitch deck as this is where you explain the economics of your business structure to the investors. Again, many entrepreneurs have developed amazing new technologies but have not yet figured out how they intend to make money out of it. The economics of the business needs to include your operating structure, distribution channels, gross margins and importantly, who is your paying customer.
Linked to your monetisation model is your sales strategy. This should indicate the strategies to acquire and serve the current and potential customers of your product. State your marketing mix, and the various sales channel you are using and are planning to use.
Also include a section on what has worked and where your plans did not work out as intended to share with the audience that you are aware of your shortcomings and successes.
The Operational Environment
A brief overview of the macroeconomic environment will show that you have considered the broader situation so include sections on the political, economic, financial and the operating environments. This should also include a piece on trends facing your particular industry.
Importantly, no matter how revolutionary your idea, you will have competitors in your industry sector. This is a section where you convince your investors that you’ve done your homework and you know about your competitors. List your competitors and include their positioning, strengths, weaknesses and opportunities which they’ve left for you to exploit.
Show them how qualified, experienced, and dedicated your management team is and how far are you planning to go with them. This should include all your key stakeholders such as the operational management team, directors, and other shareholders or investors, if any.
Remember that your investors are deciding to buy into your company with the objective to generate a return on their investment. State your plans for future sales growths and expenses and expansion opportunities. This should transition into your call to action.
Call to Action
This is what you expect from your audience and is a vital part of the pitch that many entrepreneurs omit. Explain to your audience what you expect from them, and how you plan to use those funds. Note: investor funds should never be used to pay directors’ salaries – funds should be used to grow the business.
So, whether you have 30 seconds or one hour, your pitch deck should be readily available, either in your head or on a slide deck to be readily available so the you are always in a state of ABC.