Here's the Wind-Up... Pitching Your Business Like a Big-Leaguer
When people hear that you’re starting a business, often the first thing they ask is, “so, what do y’all do?” If this question comes from your cousin or a friend, there isn’t a ton of pressure to get it right. But, if you’re talking to someone who can help your business with time, or money, or support of anr kind, nailing the pitch can be a really big deal.
If you’ve heard the term “elevator pitch” before, that’s exactly what you’ll want to have ready for these types of situations. Elevator pitches are a short, quick way to explain what your business does and why that’s important. They should be short enough that you can get your idea across in a very small amount of time – say, around the time of a short elevator ride.
A successful elevator pitch answers four questions.
What does your business offer? For your business to succeed in the marketplace, you have to offer something that makes you stand out from the competition. That can be a totally new product, a better take on a service that already exists, or even a more efficient way of solving a problem that some people think is “already solved.”
Who does your business serve? When people are considering investing in your business in any way, they want to know that their time, energy, or money will be put to good use. It’s not enough to have an idea, you have to know the audience that idea speaks to. The more specific the audience, the better. The shampoo that promises to keep your hair dye lasting longer than ever before may not be a product for everyone, but it’s definitely a product for someone – people who regularly dye their hair. Don’t feel like you have to make your audience broader than it really is to be impressive. Finding your niche is what makes you stand apart.
What problem does your customer have? People buy products and services because they have a problem. For example, you go to the grocery store because you need something to cook for dinner. So, if you know your product and you have an idea about your audience, what problem are you solving for them? With the shampoo example above, you’d be solving the problem of having your hair color rinse out after just a few washes and having to go back to the salon to get it re-colored. Including the specific problem you’re solving in your elevator pitch lets the person you’re pitching know that you haven’t randomly chosen an audience, but you’ve considered the market and you are offering something that solves a real need.
How are your customers lives better? People want to invest in stories they can believe in. You’re already a young entrepreneur, so that’s a great start, but if your business exists just to make you money… it’s going to be easy for potential investors to find a lot of other places to invest that might be a little less risky. So, how do you make the world a better place? It may seem like too big of a question, but there’s almost always a great answer if you look hard enough. Let’s go back to that our hypothetical shampoo brand. You might be think, “So hair dye lasts longer, what’s the big deal?” The change you’d be making in that person’s life isn’t about their hair - it’s about saving the time they’d spend going to the salon and using that to spend another hour with their kids, or getting the stress-relief of sleeping in an extra hour on the weekend, or just being able to use the money they’d spend going to the salon more often and put that to something they believe in. If you can’t immediately find the “bigger goal” of your business idea, spend a little time really thinking about it. It’s probably there.
“But that’s just four questions,” you say, “and you wrote, like, a million words about it. How do I fit that into an elevator pitch?”
Here’s a formula you can use to streamline your pitch: My business helps (insert your customer group here) with (their problems) by (your solution) so that they can (make their lives better.)
Want an elevator pitch for that shampoo? It looks something like this.
My business helps people who dye their hair spend less time and money at the salon by making their color look amazing for longer so that they can spend more time focusing on the things that make them really happy and less time on their hair upkeep.
It’s really that straight-forward! But if you want another example… have you seen those no-kill mouse traps?
My business helps people with a mouse problem by offering a safe solution for capturing mice so they can live a mouse-free life without the trauma (and grossness) of waking up to a dead mouse in their kitchen.
Are you ready to write your own elevator pitch?
If you want a step-by-step guide to creating your pitch, create your free account at SkysTheLimit.org to access our pitch template.