Any good collection of entrepreneur tips will show you how to deliver an awesome elevator speech at a moment’s notice — a key “must-have” for any aspiring entrepreneur.
A guy walks into an elevator …
At a certain Entrepreneurship forum, I was privileged to run into one of the biggest capitalists in the FMCG industry. I had just walked into the elevator, only to see a woman and her assistant smiling at me.
I said, “Good morning, madam,” and she replied with a smile. She asked if I was there for the Entrepreneurship forum, and I replied in the affirmative. Then she said, “That’s cool, hope you have a nice time.”
I had between 30 seconds and two minutes (the time it takes to get up a few floors of the building) to tell her what I do. But because I was prepared, I was not only able to tell her my story, but I actually convinced her to place an order that did some wonders in my monthly turnover. Now, that is what an elevator pitch is all about. Speaking about your business and yourself convincingly in two minutes (if you’re lucky).
The major characteristic of elevator pitches is the word “accidental.” Many times the opportunity to deliver your pitch is completely unplanned, but that is not an excuse for flopping it. You have to prepare for it, anticipate it, and rehearse for it in your bathroom, and anywhere else, until you perfect it.
The fact that you are reading this means you don’t want to be caught unaware. So get ready to learn how to craft a captivating elevator pitch.
Here are five things your pitch MUST contain:
1.) The problem
Entrepreneurs are problem solvers, and you must show that you are one, too. Investors are smart, but they’re also humans, which means they know of problems that need to be solved and they have problems of their own that need to be solved. Also, they like to hear about problems because it sounds like money.
If you start off talking about the problems that your business solves, it shows that you’re sharp, you’ve done your research, and you’re someone they need to hear. So, something like, “millions of young parents waste valuable time everyday in a bid to go to the grocery store, especially when there is traffic,” will capture anyone’s mind.
2.) The solution
You risk sounding like a critic and even a pessimist talking about just a problem alone. An entrepreneur does not only see problems, but solves problems. So your pitch then should convey the solution you provide:
“Trying to get stuff in the grocery store is one hell of a demanding task, and we have sought to reduce the demand on your time by creating an online store where you can order during the day, and get your orders delivered at home for you in the evening after work.”
Sounds great, yeah?
3.) The target market
This is so important. Your target market cannot be everybody – forget it! You must have a group of people that you look out for first in your ad and promotional materials, and then others can follow. This will help you focus much of your attention on those who are likely to become potential customers in the future.
Now, your target market may be the mass market, but note that there are also people called Premium Customers. Some businesses serve only premium customers, others serve the mass market, but everyone will be smiling to the bank if they do well. For instance, I once did a Fast Moving Consumer Goods business, and my target market were mainly working-class professionals who I knew would jump at the idea of getting their groceries delivered at home so that they can save time.
I went after them. They were my premium customers. But that didn’t stop me from attending to the walk-in customers from around the neighborhood who came to my Super Mart to pick up some groceries. Your speech must carry the group you target first.
4.) The team
Let the investor know that people actually trust in your abilities and your ideas enough to work with you. Using “We” or “My partners and I” in your pitch goes a long way in driving this home. This speaks much of your ability to embrace teamwork – an essential phenomenon for the success of business. But beyond that, it lets the investor see from your speech that you have your team is the best.
In his article on 25 reasons why I won’t invest in your startup, Jon Rampton stated that he wouldn’t dare invest in a startup with an inexperienced team. In his words: “Let’s say that I like you and your idea but not your team. Don’t expect an investment from me. I need to be sure that members of your team have the qualifications and discipline to complete tasks, meet deadlines and follow through on objectives.”
5.) Your activities, goals and achievements
You see, nobody cares how much you have in your head, until they see how much you have done with your hands. It’s not enough to have ideas; you’ve got to work it until it works. Nobody will be moved concerning that idea if you do not show them that you are passionate about it yourself and working to achieve it.
If you have started on your idea already, your pitch should document what you hope to achieve in the coming months or years, and what you are doing currently. Now, you also have to be careful not to sell your entire idea, especially when you haven’t started.
If your idea sounds good, you’ll have another meeting; then you can invite your lawyers. You cannot do without an elevator pitch as an entrepreneur – work on following the points above, practice it every day, until it begins to come out unconsciously anytime you encounter a potential partner or investor.
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