Finance · 23 August 2018

How to pitch your business to potential investors: 3 tips for success

A funding pitch that captures the imagination of would-be investors requires significant effort, preparation, and foresight.

They list the recipe for success in pitching a business to market. The advice is usually knowing your market, having a solution to a key problem or challenge for your potential client base, understanding revenue models and streams, identifying the unique selling point – the list continues.

My question is, with all these ingredients in the mix, what is it that makes the perfect investment recipe?

Whilst it’s important to have these ingredients, you also need to have your own personal twist to your pitch to make it stand out. You also need to understand three key concepts to successfully pitch your business to potential investors.

Gaining investment is a sale

You need to realise that the process of gaining investment is packaging a business idea itself as a product for sale.

You need to focus on the strengths and understand the weaknesses. Pitching a business to investors is a complex and multifaceted sale and is potentially the biggest sale the business as an entity will ever make, and remember, people buy people – they’re investing in you as a person, as well as your business.

There are only so many ways to reinvent the wheel, only so many new patented products or ideas that will be revolutionary and in themselves 100% commodity-based investments. For the rest of us, what is it that the investor will be buying into? Ultimately investors will be buying into you. It is your vision, your team, your commitment to make it work. What is it about you that will make you the person, not the business, that they will want to invest in?

You also need to think about the questions they’ll have for you and what your answers will be: what is it that is being bought?  What are your investors buying? A unique product or service to the market? A commodity or product-based business?

Balance the sale with scales of value

In the process of pitching the business, the scales may tip, and balances change as a deal evolves. You need to understand what it is you want from the deal. What does your investor bring to the scales? What do you want from them? Is it funds, contacts, knowledge, skillset, infrastructure?

The monetary value of a potential investor is sometimes not as valuable to a business long term, as other potentially non-financially quantifiable elements.

The deal realised may change and the ultimate business deal could evolve. Be prepared to adapt and remember, you will not be the only cook in the kitchen!

If it is too hot you can step out of the kitchen

This sale is not just you to investors, it is investors to you. You are just as valuable for the investors as they are to you.

You need to know your worth. Be prepared to say no because the deal has to be workable for all sides. If the deal on the table is not right for both parties, it’s a nonstarter and you’ll need to be prepared to walk away.

Negotiations are always best conducted in a position of relative power. Your ultimate power is an understanding of your worth. In this sale, selling yourself short or indeed, overselling yourself, are ultimately dangerous for the business as a whole, unfortunately, your worth may not be as high as you think!

Stepping back and revising your pitch and deal is not a defeat, instead it can be a fundamentally sound choice. You can always increase your worth and return in a stronger position to get a better deal for you and your business.

The proof is most definitely in the pudding, and one thing is for sure – it’s the mixing not necessarily the ingredients that make the perfect pitch.

Written by Elizabeth McKenna, Apprentice 2018 candidate and founder of online floristry business Lizzie’s bundles, which has grown 500% in one year. 

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Elizabeth McKenna is the founder of online floristry business Lizzie’s bundles, which has grown 500% in one year, and was a candidate on The Apprentice 2018.

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