Whether you are trying to raise money for your business or just want to perfect your business strategy, a solid elevator pitch is an essential tool for achieving your goals. An elevator pitch can be delivered either verbally, ideally in 60 seconds or less, or as a one-page overview of your business. Think of the elevator pitch as an executive summary that provides a quick overview of your business and details why you are going to be successful.
The original concept of an elevator pitch, unsurprisingly, came from our cousins across the pond and according to Wikipedia is credited to Ilene Rosenzweig and Michael Caruso of Vanity Fair Magazine and refers to the time you have got to pitch an idea to someone, if you were ‘stuck’ in an elevator with a potential investor travelling between two floors in a building. Originally a ‘thirty second’ monologue, it has been used to describe any ‘pitch’ to a potential investor where time is of the essence. It is more commonly used at networking events as a way of introducing you and your business to other people in the room.
So it goes something like this;
“Hello Dragons, my name is John Smith, and I am here today to ask for £10,000 in exchange for 10% equity in my company – Do As You Want”.
Sometimes you peak interest, sometimes you don’t. So exactly what should you be saying, and more importantly what should you NOT be saying.
In Dragon’s Den, budding entrepreneurs come face to face with (now) five well known (?) business owners that are considered established in the ways of business strategy and growth. The SEVEN things that make a good elevator pitch are listed as;-
- Problem – Identify a problem that needs solving and why?
- Solution – How will you solve the problem?
- Target Market – Who will buy?
- Competition – Do you have any?
- Team – Who is on your side already?
- Financial Summary – How much and when?
- Milestones – Ambition?
This seems a lot to squeeze into what will possibly be just SIXTY SECONDS, but this is a proven way of condensing your message.
In reality, the whole thing can be intimidating, but if you get it right, the end result is people talking to you about your business. You have ‘earned the right’ to your next ‘exposure’.
There are a few things I would like to add to the list above, as more of a ‘don’t list’;
- Alienate – do not criticise anyone in your pitch
- Distract – use a real life example of success
- Fantasise – realistic achievable figures only please
- Make it up as you go along – be prepared – see later
- Waffle – keep on track
- Dress Up – be presentable (unless you are pitching fancy dress)
Always be prepared. Most networking events have some kind of ‘elevator pitch’ and it is important to have TWO or THREE pre-prepared scripts that you have rehearsed over and over again in front of the mirror so that they become second nature.
Because you don’t want to be the one in the room that stumbles, reads from a scribbled note, or looks as white as a sheet. I have seen some awful pitches (why would anyone put themselves through it?) and I have witnessed some excellent ones. Take note all of you network leaders out there, whilst you may think it is funny, or a challenge; springing an ‘elevator pitch’ on someone when they have not prepared for it, you will not see that person again for a while. Make sure everyone at your event knows what is expected of them. You are a leader, communicate.
Being prepared (or the 5 P’s as I like to call them; Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance) gives you confidence, and don’t worry if you don’t get it all in the first time, keep trying, keep adjusting, try it on the dog, your spouse, your children, or anyone else that will listen. It gets easier, I promise.
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