When you go on a first date, you generally want to put your best foot forward and make a memorable impression that will secure a second date right?
The same principle, says Pitch & Polish project manager Bronwyn Echardt, applies to pitching your business to potential venture capitalists.
“Like dating, pitching your business or business idea to potential investors or possible partners also relies on a number of basic fundamental truths (such as) being confident without being cocky, being approachable without seeming desperate and being passionate without being immoderate,” she says.
Below are four of the most common mistakes entrepreneurs should avoid if they hope to grab the attention of a prospective investor.
Pushing instead of pulling
Like dating, pitching is all about creating enough intrigue to raise interest in your business. Imagine going on a first date with someone who spends the night rattling off the reasons why he or she would make a good wife or husband. That would probably be the first and last time you saw that person.
Rather, says Heidi Allstop, founder of Spill, what you’d want to do is casually drop into the conversation a tantalising detail about that home-cooked meal you prepared for someone.
“If the audience feels that they’re being force-fed a value proposition that they can’t relate to, their walls will go up. However, by piquing their curiosity in a less forward way, such as describing the excitement you felt in saving thousands for one of your client companies, the audience would be left wanting more,” she says.
Avoid using buzzwords and jargon
Nobody appreciates a corny pickup line and buzzwords are the business world’s equivalent.
“These can sound the death knell of any new interaction. Use easy-to-understand language – crisp, concise and simple,” Echardt says.
“Include actual anecdotes and humour and be witty without being corny or sarcastic and never talk down to anyone because you think they won’t understand your ideas. Be genuine, real and sincere.”
Using a PowerPoint presentation to pitch
Potential investors want to believe that they are the first or only people you have pitched to and more importantly, that your pitch is unique and heartfelt, says Allstop. A PowerPoint presentation might take away from this and ultimately investors are trying to find out more about you. Only bring in a PowerPoint presentation at the end of your pitch as dessert, as opposed it being the main course.
“It’s you they want more of rather than the accouterments, just as when on a first date, it’s the impression you make as a person rather than the clothes you wear, the car you drive, the art you own, that captivates the heart,” Echardt says.
Ignoring advice from others around you
We often seek out a second opinion on an outfit we plan to wear on that first date, right? Many entreprenuers skip this step, attempting to develop their business pitch by themselves, without seeking help or advice from others.
“When preparing your pitching message, play it first to a captive, but honest audience – family, friends and colleagues – that will criticise positively and help you see the errors that you missed because you’re too close. In this way you will gain perspective, confidence and practice,” says Echardt.