Guidelines for entrepreneurs when pitching their business

Lesley Waterkeyn

During its early years, any new business will probably find itself having to apply for funding or to promote itself to potential customers. And so it’s important that entrepreneurs know how to present the business and its various features to the audience that it’s addressing. ORT Jet Cape Town recently provided guidance to the top 10 finalists of the Shining Light Awards prior to them pitching their businesses to the panel of judges.

Led by Lesley Waterkeyn, the Founder and Executive Director of Over the Rainbow, a support forum for entrepreneurs in Cape Town, the pitching workshop provided useful tips for all business-owners.

As with any presentation, the structure of what you put together is crucial to its success. Lesley advises that you give some thought to an impactful opening statement that will attract the attention of your audience. Then go into some detail: provide facts and relevant, impactful statistics, and explain the potential impact the business could have. Finally, end with a call to action so that your audience knows what is expected of them.

A crucial tip for any entrepreneur is that you demonstrate that you know your numbers. Analyse the financial records for your business so that you are clear about how your business makes a profit; and what the numbers reveal as regards the sustainability of the business. It will also impress the people you are talking to if you use financial information to explain the growth in your business over
past years. 

You will need to explain what your business does. Lesley recommends that you find the right language to explain this in the simplest way – “as if you were telling your granny what the business is about”. Avoid too much technical information when you speak about the activities of the business: remember that the audience may not know much about the field you work in so be careful not to confuse them. 

Linked to how you explain what your business does is the need to identify the unique value proposition of the enterprise. What do you do that makes your offer special and of value to the market?

As regards your actual presentation, here are some tips to bear in mind:

A Powerpoint presentation is not obligatory – you can make notes and use those as the reminder about what to speak to. BUT you must have practised sufficiently so that you don’t read off the notes or your slides.

Keep the content short – identify only the most significant points to make. These are the points that are geared to sway the audience in your favour.

Think hard about a pointed statement you can make upfront regarding your business. A bold assertion that is not beyond the truth about your enterprise will peak the interest of your audience and help hold their attention.

Be clear about what the problem is that your business seeks to address and how it will provide a solution to
the problem.

You need to show how the business could grow in the future. An investor will want to see the growth potential before investing – but be realistic in your projections.

Talk about your team: highlight the skills and experience that the team has.

Show passion for what you do. 

All in all, getting your presentation right is a significant part of achieving what you are looking for. You may have a brilliant business idea but, if you cannot pitch it properly, the business may never take off.

• Published in the December 2023/January 2024 issue – Click here to start reading.

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