- Teneshia Jackson Warner is an award-winning multicultural marketing expert, purpose-driven entrepreneur, and author. She is the founder, CEO, and chief creative officer of EGAMI Group. Teneshia founded The Dream Project, an annual empowerment conference that helps thousands of entrepreneurs, creatives, and career “dreamers” plan and achieve their goals.
- The following is an excerpt from her book, “The Big Stretch: 90 Days to Expand Your Dreams, Crush Your Goals, and Create Your Own Success.“
- In it, she gets advice from Dream Project Small Business Pitch Competition winner Candace Mitchell on crafting the perfect pitch.
- Mitchell says that you need to show that you have the knowledge to build a “great business model.” And remember that “people invest in people.”
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
If you want an activity to become easier, keep practicing it. The more you practice, the more familiar the exercise will become, and the better you’ll get at the skill. One skill that you’ll need to perfect is the art of the pitch, during which you’ll have to be able to speak clearly and quickly about your vision and make some “big asks.”
Being willing to pitch is a big part of learning to dare. A pitch is a verbal representation of your business idea, and, in most pitch settings, you’ll have a limited amount of time to make your case. Whether you’re trying to get interest and action from potential investors, industry experts, or celebrities who might be willing to promote your product, your pitch has to be lean, clear, personal, and compelling.
Jennifer Fleiss said that it’s important to remember that when you’re pitching, you’re selling, so entrepreneurs should never underestimate the importance of sharpening their sales skills. She advised, “If you want to be an entrepreneur, and you’re not yet ready to go after your concept, do something in sales, because whether you’re pitching a venture capitalist, pitching a cofounder, pitching someone to join your team, or pitching a landlord to give you space for cheap, it’s really important to have that sales skill.”
Tips from a pitch master
I want to offer you some tips on how to effectively pitch a concept, courtesy of Dream Project speaker Candace Mitchell — the “Make it Happen Dreamer” and cofounder of Techturized who, along with her three business partners, won the Dream Project Small Business Pitch Competition and went on to be “pitch perfect” in competitions around the country.
Their company uses technology to create personalized haircare regimens for women, and, thanks to their powerful pitch, they raised over $500,000 to launch their dream. Here is some of Candace’s best advice on how to nail the pitch and hit one out of the park.
Pitching to investors
“In a pitch to potential investors, you typically have one to five minutes to articulate your business and your vision, followed by a question-and-answer session. The judges will ask questions about a variety of topics: your team, your market, your financials — anything that can help them understand, ‘Is this a potential successful business that we should get behind?'” she said.
You must effectively articulate your business model and your value composition.
Understand your business model
“Show that you’re serious about what you’re doing and that you have the knowledge to build a great business model. Is your idea scalable? How will you make money, and what are the channels that you’ll use to reach your customers to continually make money over time? Will your business grow with that model? Those are the questions you need to be able to answer. You should also know who your competition is and how this business pitch can help take your company to the next level.”
Demonstrate that you’re the expert
“Do your research. Know everything there is to know about your industry. You never want the people you’re talking to [to] know more about your market and your industry than you do. It’s really important that you’re a subject matter expert.”
Tell a good story
“Start strong and immediately grab the listener’s attention. Are you entertaining? Are you including how you personally connect to your company? Also the problem and the pain that you’re solving. What will people pay you money for? What pain are they experiencing that they will pay you to take away? Part of a good story is your solution. What service are you offering? What is the solution? Then you want to talk about how you’re going to acquire your customers. You can have this awesome idea. You can say you’re going make X millions and billions of dollars, but if you can’t articulate how you’re even going to get the customers, then it doesn’t matter what you’re saying.”
Make the big ask
“Your pitch should include your ask. What are you asking for? Are you asking for money? What do you need that money for? Is it going [to] help you improve your technology? Are you going to hire people with it? Is it going to help you acquire customers?”
Be high energy and entertaining
“You should be confident. You should be excited. The potential investor wants to be as passionate as you are. Engage with who[m] you’re speaking to and showcase your personality because at the end of the day people invest in people. They might think you have a B+ idea, but you might be an A+ person, which leads to, ‘I’m betting my money that this woman right here is going to pull it off, no matter what it takes.’ And also going back to your story — if it’s a funny story, make people laugh. If it’s a painful story that made you say, ‘Wow. This is what brought me to the edge, and I knew I had to start my company,’ make them cry. Make people excited. That’s what people want to feel as they’re hearing your pitch.”
Excerpt from “The Big Stretch: 90 Days to Expand Your Dreams, Crush Your Goals, and Create Your Own Success,” p.14-19 (McGraw-Hill November 22, 2019).