Most small business owners make some serious mistakes that investors don’t like. As a result, it creates more challenges and difficulties in achieving widespread business success. A major reason for this is an incomplete pitch without clear context and facts and figures to attract more investors.
It’s a fact that new business starters look for one thing—fundraising. Indeed, it’s the hardest part in their entrepreneurial journey and frankly, it all depends on a compelling pitch. Your pitch can only get you through these hardships.
Therefore, if you’re failing to attract investors, the bitter truth is your pitch deck is not working for you. With that in mind, here’s a guide to building a great pitch from scratch so that it gets more people to invest in your business:
What is a pitch deck and why do you need it?
A pitch deck is a presentation for potential investors. It can be a small set of documents, images and infographics with detailed info about your business. An ideal pitch contains all of the required data to convince investors. While building a pitch deck, you must know the ins and outs of your business.
According to Bill Gurley in his defense of the deck:
“Investors are not solely evaluating your company’s story. They are also evaluating your ability to convey that story.”
A well-prepared pitch deck is the only way to get financial support for your business.
Here are the best tips for small business owners to build a great pitch deck for their start-up:
1. Be confident, energetic
Your energy and confidence can captivate the attention of the audience. It all starts with you and your potential, so have faith in yourself that you can do it. Make eye contact while presenting your business ideas and don’t get puzzled. Make sure to clarify any problem and explain the room for growth in your business.
Plus, proper attire, body language and spoken skills will make your investors like you. Spend time with the audience before you formally address them, ask their names and mention those people during your presentation. For instance, “I had a great conversation with Matt sitting over there about that problem and the possible solutions.”
This is just an example but trust me, it will build a huge trust between you and your listeners. Furthermore, it will show your potential and seriousness towards the success of your business.
2. Tell them your story
Every start-up has a business story. Here’s a famous quote about storytelling that will inspire you:
"The stories we tell literally make the world. If you want to change the world, you need to change your story. This truth applies both to individuals and institutions." — Michael Margolis
This quote means that story applies to everyone, so tell people about your story. It’s the most powerful way to get sympathy from the investors. It must be short and should clearly state what your business is about. People might forget your pitch but they’ll remember your story.
3. The problem and the solution
A pitch is incomplete without a problem and the solution slides. But the problem should not be a mystery that can never be solved. It should speak itself so that your audience feels the pain before you even move forward toward the solution.
For example, your business website is getting lots of traffic and the current hosting plan can’t handle it. Site reliability is the problem here and the solution is to move to the scalable cloud. But you don’t have the capital to move your business to the cloud platform. Thus, investors will have a clear picture of the problem and the solution.
The story doesn’t end here. In order to develop more interest from the investors, you need to mention the expected results that a solution will bring. The audience is curious to know the possible outcomes, so a clear indication is necessary to mention.
4. Design your presentation
First of all, choose a professional, creative and engaging presentation layout for the pitch deck. Select the slides carefully—and every slide must have unique content that keeps the audience engaged. After reviewing a number of popular pitch decks of companies like LinkedIn, Buzzfeed and AirBnB, I’ve concluded their presentations had:
- Charts and graphs
- Inspiring quotes by industry leaders
- Problem and solution
- Business timeline
- Future plans
- Infographics and visuals
- Expected results
An average presentation of a pitch deck contains up to 20 slides. Try to wrap up within this number. More importantly, use the above data in style and animation with the help of software tools like Visme and Prezi. Obviously, it will take time and effort to create a great pitch design but after all, it’s worth it, isn’t it?
5. Mention your accomplishments
It’s important to highlight the progress you’ve made in your business. Use charts and graphs to display recent achievements. That will communicate to the investors that you’ve been doing great but need a little push. A single slide would be enough to showcase the accomplishments.
Emphasize any particular task and focus on the strategies you’ve adopted to complete it within a certain timeframe. Furthermore, add symbols, colors and icons into the slide to depict the milestones your business has achieved.
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6. Business management team
Whether we talk about a small business or a large organization, success can never be achieved without building a great team. Make sure to appreciate your team because these people are behind your success.
Though it seems to be a simple slide with your team members and/or co-founders mentioned on it, it leaves a positive and a negative impression on the investors. Let me explain—if investors see that your team is a great fit for a certain business idea, they’ll likely be ready to invest in your business.
However, an inexperienced team will cause the investors to think carefully about it. That’s why it’s very important to present your entire team including their pictures, job titles and expertise areas.
7. Market size
Investors want to see current market statistics about the business and what you're doing differently to address the needs of the market. Reduce the investor risk by clearly stating the total demand for your product in the market.
Post your claims carefully as the audience is conscious about the numbers. You can use surveys to get market data.
8. Highlight your business and show how it stands out
I’ll be straight forward here, you need to be prepared for the following question: Why is your product better than the others?
It can be assumed that investors also will ask you: Why should we invest in your product?
So, be prepared to provide all the why’s and how’s, and put yourself in investors’ shoes and ask those questions to yourself. Prove that your idea is the best and it’ll have a huge impact in the market. Share the deep insights and future plans for how your business ideas will beat the competitors and break the monopoly. As stated above, use graphs and charts in your slides, it will be a big plus.
9. Use powerful words
There’s a famous quote about the importance of using powerful words:
“Words are potent weapons for all causes, good or bad” — Manly Hall
To convince your investors, I’d recommend using these powerful words within your pitch deck:
- It works
- Risk free
- Be the first
- You’re welcome
10. Never beg!
You'll get a “No” right away if you start begging in your pitch. It will create an alarming situation as the audience will think you’re already in trouble. Investors might think you need funds badly to survive regardless of the future plans or success of your business.
Have faith in yourself—this is not the end and never lose hope.
Define an exit strategy instead, win the trust of the investors and show them how the business will make a nice profit.
Finally, keep practicing and be determined.
Entrepreneurs like to say, “Pitch like Steve Jobs," so watch how Steve introduced the iPhone to the world in this video.
About the author
Faisal Rehman is a Freelance Systems Administrator and a writer at softwarespice.com. With 10 years of technology and systems experience, he writes about small business hosting and how to start a successful blog. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.