The Deconstructed Business Power Pitch: The Problem

SIBP-Blog-NEW-1Every business pitch needs to start with a “problem.” There’s something wrong in the market, and it’s causing anxiety, frustration and pain. Maybe it’s a customer need that is going unmet, or it’s a roadblock that simply doesn’t need to be there. By establishing the problem — or presenting this “problem statement” — you’re setting up how your business or idea will solve it, meeting that demand, winning customers and generating sales.

It’s easy to see why every pitch starts with a problem. It serves as the sharp, pointy end of the “hook” phase of the pitch, establishing a conflict that then demands some kind of resolution. As you explain the problem, you’re also laying the groundwork for the story of how your business plans to resolve that conflict.

A good example of this is ridesharing startup Uber. Continue reading

The Deconstructed Business Power Pitch: The Big Picture

SIBP-Blog-NEW-B-3In the entrepreneurial world, there is a profound and definite need for telling the story of a business in the most succinct and compelling way possible. It’s not just about mastering the process of pitching to investors, lenders and potential partners, although those groups are important. The more powerfully you can present the case for your business to anyone and everyone, the easier it will be to do things like win new clients, attract top talent, and make connections with everyone else along the way.

Calling this kind of storytelling a “pitch” allows for a useful shorthand, but what we’re really talking about is creating a clear, concise narrative about why your business matters, and why other people should be paying attention. The same preparation that go into creating a great pitch also allows you to master the tools, methods and best practices for telling your story any time it really matters. If these techniques work during the high-stakes presentation of a formal business pitch setting, they will work anywhere. Continue reading

The Deconstructed Business Power Pitch: An Overview of the Proof

SIBP-Blog-NEW-B-5A successful business pitch doesn’t happen by accident. Like any great story, a pitch takes your audience on a journey, grabbing their attention and playing to their curiosity as you guide them from one stage to the next. This means laying out each element of the pitch in a very specific order, each step setting up the next so that the story unfolds in the most compelling way possible. Understanding this process is essential for anyone who hopes to master the business pitch.

In my last post, I explained the role of the “hook” in the business pitch. If you want to catch a fish, you have to bait the hook. In the context of a pitch, setting the hook means establishing your business narrative. They understand what problem your business aims to solve, how you will solve it, and why your solution is the right one. It’s about building a credible narrative while capturing their attention.

But there’s more to fishing than just getting a fish to bite. You also need to get them into the boat. That second phase of the process, where you’re reeling in the audience, is giving them what they need to truly accept the story you’ve presented. This is the “proof.” Continue reading

The Deconstructed Business Power Pitch: An Overview of the Hook

SIBP-Blog-NEW-B-2Any time I begin the process of taking apart a big topic, I like to start at the macro level, giving us that all-important 50,000 foot view. The further we zoom out, the easier it becomes to forget about all the smaller, occasionally distracting details. With a little distance, we can start to take in the big picture. Given just how big and complex a great business pitch can be, we need to step as far back as we can until we see just few major concepts.

There are two major elements that go into creating a business pitch, and you need to nail both of them if you want to see great results from your presentation. These are the “hook” and the “proof.” Each of these is made up of smaller ideas, steps and processes, but for now let’s just think of a pitch in terms of these two big, distinct concepts. You need both for a successful pitch, and they are equally important. Continue reading

The Deconstructed Business Power Pitch: Why Pitching Matters

SIBP-Blog-NEW-B-2Thanks to shows like Shark Tank, business pitching is currently in something of a cultural golden era. Across the county, entrepreneurs participate in pitch competitions, delivering their most powerful appeals for funding in the form of a 100 minute, two minute, and even 30 second pitches. In a way that was unthinkable only a few years ago, pitching has become a “sexy” topic.

What’s more interesting to me, however, is that the sudden growth in interest around this fundamental entrepreneurial skill. The ability to effectively pitch your business or startup concept in any setting, over any span of time, and to any audience, is an ability every founder should actively hone. In fact, it’s an incredibly useful skill even outside the context of courting investors. Continue reading

Ep. 138 – Frequently Asked Questions From Investors (and What They Mean), Part 3

SIBP-Blog-NEW-3Investors love asking tough questions after a business pitch. They may start off with softball questions, but sooner or later they will start throwing you some real curveballs. How you react to those tricky, probing and often unexpected questions says a lot about your ability to manage the daily challenges of being an entrepreneur.

In this episode, host and business coach Tom Ryan wraps up this three-part series with the “junk balls” of the post-pitch Q&A session. As always, Tom is joined by co-host and producer Jason Pyles. Continue reading

Ep. 137 – Frequently Asked Questions From Investors (and What They Mean), Part 2

SIBP-Blog-NEW-2As you’re wrapping up your pitch presentation, it’s inevitable that your would-be investors will have questions. In part one, host and business coach Tom Ryan covered the obvious, predictable questions you can easily knock out of the park. Now it’s time to talk about the less-easy questions.

In this episode, he takes a look at the tougher, less-obvious topics that can all too easily trip you up if you aren’t prepared. Tom is joined, as always, by producer and co-host Jason Pyles. Continue reading

5 Tips For Telling Your Startup Story

SIBP-Blog-NEW-B-2In my role as a Kauffman Foundation Entrepreneur in Residence, every day I get to work with some truly awesome people. These are the founders of startups and early stage companies, men and women who are willing to take a risk on turning an idea into a business. As a business coach, I’m in the unique position of being able to see the their struggles from a more detached vantage point. It doesn’t take long before some common patterns — and problems — start to emerge.

The most common challenge I see with startups, for instance, is raising capital. Another common issue most early stage companies struggle with is getting traction and increasing sales. And then there’s the third biggest problem most startups struggle with: Storytelling. Continue reading

Ep. 131 – Frequently Asked Questions From Investors (and What They Mean) Part 1

SIBP-Blog-NEW-1Now that you’ve delivered a knock-out power pitch to investors, you might think that the hard part of the job is done. Not quite. Now it’s time for your would-be investors to put your business plans to the test. Are you ready for the Q&A section of the presentation?

In this episode, host and business coach Tom Ryan talks about the most common questions potential investors will ask following your pitch. He’s joined by co-host and producer Jason Pyles, and special guest (and podcast editor) Natalie Pyles. Continue reading

Ep. 129 – The Business Power Pitch Deconstructed: Part 12 – Rocking Your Business Power Pitch

SIBP-Blog-NEW-5Now that you’ve created a rock-solid power pitch for your business, there’s only one question left to answer: How do you rock this thing? As well prepared as you are, you still have to stick the landing when it comes to the pitch itself. It’s time for a few pointers on connecting with your audience of potential investors.

In this final “finish line” episode of the Power Pitch series, host and business coach Tom Ryan explains the rookie mistakes many entrepreneurs make when pitching, and some simple tips to help you avoid them. As always, Tom is joined by producer and co-host Jason Pyles. Continue reading