9 Pitching Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make

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Getting your business off the ground can be demanding work. It takes time for your brand to become recognized, and attract investors and clients. Once you’ve caught the attention of investors, it is your job to reel them in. Pitching is a difficult skill, but once you’ve mastered it you’ll be able to bring in the resources needed to take your company to the next level.

There are many factors to consider when creating your pitch. Your job is to present your company or idea in a way that captures the interest of investors and potential clients. Think of your pitch as more of a story than a sales pitch. In order to help you improve your pitching skills, we’ve compiled a list of the most common mistakes entrepreneurs make.

  1. Pitching To The Wrong People - One of the more common mistakes new entrepreneurs make is pitching to everyone they think might listen. This may be a good way to practice and improve your pitching skills, but it’s a waste of your time. Make sure the people you reach out to have the means to invest, or are interested in the products or services your company provides. You also want to make sure your pitch is tailored for the type of person or people your company is targeting.

  2. Master Your Media Pitch - If you plan on making a media pitch, you have to approach it differently than a sales pitch. If someone comes to your place of business or attends a meeting with you, they are most likely expecting a sales pitch. Listening to someone simply read a publication makes the client feel like they are being advertised to, and you’re likely to be ignored. In order to catch their attention, you’ll have to create a story in which the reader feels like they are gaining valuable information. The story has to be interesting, making the reader feel like they need what you’re offering. There is a lot of competition out there, and you have to make sure whatever you are putting out is eye-catching and unique.

  3. The Elevator Pitch - The ‘elevator pitch’ is an introduction to your business, and is one of the most important factors in getting a meeting set up with potential investors and clients. It’s referred to as an elevator pitch because it should last no longer than one minute - about the length of an elevator ride. It needs to be short, interesting and to the point. Don’t make the mistake of trying to cram in too much information, as it’ll make the pitch uninteresting. Your goal is to pique the listener’s interest, and leave them wanting to know more.

  4. The PowerPoint Presentation - Once you’ve given your elevator pitch and piqued some interest, the next step is to set up a meeting in which you go over the main points of your business. The PowerPoint presentation needs to be carefully prepared, and planned. Serious investors and big clients are busy people and have limited time, so you need to make sure you cover all the main business points in 15 minutes or less. This allows time for questions without feeling pressed for time. Plan for a 30 minute presentation in all.

  5. The Business Pan - No matter how good your elevator pitch and PowerPoint presentation is, if you don’t have a well thought-out business plan you won’t be able to close the deal. You must take time to create a persuasive and coherent business plan that covers a number of different issues, including:

  • What issues will your business be solving?

  • How big is the market your business will be competing in?

  • What sustainable competitive edge does your company have?

  • What are the qualifications of the company’s management team?

  • What are the projected costs and revenues for the company (accompanied with realistic and supported projects and assumptions)?

  1. Realistic Exit Strategy - Investors are often in it for the money. The goal is to grow a profitable long-term business that will provide a steady and secure living for you and your family, but you may find yourself at the mercy of your investor’s choices. Make sure your presentation and pitch addresses their question of how they will make a profit. Prepare ahead for questions concerning this matter if you want your potential investor to have confidence in you. Take the time to research potential profit venues, including licensing agreements with bigger businesses or the possible sale to a bigger company.

  2. Requesting A Non-Disclosure Agreement - As an entrepreneur, you are excited about your business idea and are sure of enormous success and wealth. One of the first instincts when getting ready to present your pitch is a desire to protect your great idea. But presenting a potential investor with a non-disclosure agreement can be a real non-starter. Many major investors understand that a truly original idea is very rare. They have probably heard some variation of your idea before, and will probably hear more again. Signing such a document can lead to future lawsuits, so the majority of investors will not sign one.

  3. Discussing Valuation Too Early - Starting a pitch or presentation with the possible end results, and how much money everyone can make, can be a dealbreaker. Experienced investors make a living by being able to successfully predict the valuation of a business. Your focus should be to provide the most accurate information possible, and do your research so you can be prepared to answer any questions they may have.

  4. Not Listening - When facing potential investors and clients in a presentation or meeting, you need to put your pride aside. People who are putting their money into your business idea often ask a lot of questions, and offer suggestions. You may have heard the same question over and over from other people, but you have to understand the investor is just trying to fully understand every aspect of your business model to ensure profit. Keep in mind that experienced investors may have more knowledge in certain areas of starting a business, and can be a real asset. Stay patient, and let the investor know they are being heard. A negative reaction can make the investor feel disrespected, and will cause them to move on.

Starting and running a successful business needs more than just a great idea. You need to put in time, research, work and money. In order to raise the money you need to turn your idea into reality, you need to attract investors looking for the next big thing. Nothing is more important for attracting investors than the right pitch.

The above list is a guide to help you avoid many of the pitfalls new entrepreneurs experience when creating their pitch. If you have comments or suggestions that will help other freelancers create a better pitch, please share below.

Posted 4 November, 2017


Entrepreneur & Creator

Nick is the Entrepreneur Correspondent for Freelancer.com. He is based in Sydney, NYC, & London. His life consists of frequent flyer points.

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