You don’t know when you might bump into or be talking to a useful contact, business partner or even potential Investor. This first conversation is your best chance to impress and could determine whether you get a second more detailed conversation or meeting.
So grab the chance to explain your business, or idea, in a way that is clear and compelling.
Sounds easy, yet this is where otherwise excellent entrepreneurs make a big mistake. They are not prepared and simply ramble on in every direction. Think about it, can you tell me about your concept in a way that I will really understand and allow me to be excited about joining you as a business partner or Investor?
Some entrepreneurs are very good at this and you may be one of them, but the majority of people I talk to make a terrible hash of it. When they finish I am none the wiser and couldn’t honestly recommend them to the business partners and Investors I meet.
You’ve heard of the now clichéd Elevator Pitch where you describe your business in the time it takes to travel up in an elevator to a prospective customer/Investor. Well that concept came about because it was a useful way of visualising what was needed. So don’t be too quick in dismissing it as old hat.
Here are my top tips for engaging interest in your business when you first talk to a potential business partner or Investor. This is not an investment pitch or a presentation, but simply an opportunity for a quick conversation with a potential ally in growing your business.
1. Think about the situation and how much detail you need to go into. Is it a chance encounter with someone at an event, or a telephone call with a business angel where you have time to prepare?
2. Don’t start spouting words at machine gun pace, never giving pause for questions, or even noticing that you’re on entirely the wrong track of what was asked. Use your empathy and listen. Use the feedback you are getting, visually or by asking “is that what you meant”, “does that make sense” (if on the telephone).
3. Prepare an explanation of your business. Write it down and then practice saying it out loud. Writing the explanation down forces you to think about it and ensures it flows logically. After you have talked to someone about your business, reflect on how that went and make adjustments. You’d be surprised how many people don’t.
4. Have 2 versions – one that may take just 30 seconds which gives the whole concept in a nutshell and a second version that allows a bit more detail taking a few minutes.
5. This is what potential business partners and Investors want to hear:
- Who you are, your experience and your knowledge relevant to making the business a success.
- The market area that you are in and the size & potential of that market.
- What your company/business/project/idea does. Clearly – so that there is no misunderstanding or confusion. This needs trying out on people who have never heard of your activity.
- What problem does your business solve for clients/customers? What advantage does it give them? What desire or aspiration does it allow?
- What is your uniqueness, how do you compare to your competition?
The listener should now have a initial understanding of you, your business potential and the market, if it is appropriate you should also add what you are looking for in order to grow that business. A Partner, a Mentor, an Investor, contacts, sales help or whichever you need.
Remember, experienced business people and especially Investors have heard it all before, don’t boast, don’t over-hype, be professional and have a couple statistics in mind to throw in that supports your claims – it will impress.
With good planning and thought you can make a favourable impression with whoever you meet – you never know where it may lead.