I went to a fab event last night run by the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN). The event was designed to equip attendees with the skills needed to perfect your business pitch, and it fulfilled on this (and more.)
There was a panel of three seasoned entrepreneurs – Lindley Edwards from AFG Venture Group; James Stevens from Roses Only and the gorgeous Suzi Dafnis from the Australian Businesswomen’s Network. They began by answering a series of questions about what separates women entrepreneurs from male entrepreneurs and Lindley offered that women’s businesses last longer and are more sustainable; that women are less likely to take investment in their businesses and have reduced risk profiles; and that women build businesses that fit around their lifestyles.
We then had the opportunity to get up in front of the crowd and pitch our businesses to the panel and audience. I went cold and clammy at the thought of having to do this, and briefly contemplated an extended bathroom visit, but I needn’t have worried as someone bravely offered to go first. She did a great job at explaining her business and took the panel’s feedback graciously.
The panel advised this:
* When pitching your business, start with: “I’m here because … and I would like …” – it’s important to set your intention and set the framework for the pitch and be really clear on what it is you’re looking for.
* Storytelling is great but don’t get too carried away. Set the framework, then get into the narrative, but read your audience to see if they’ve switched off.
* Don’t use statements like “There’s no competition for my business” or “It doesn’t matter what my competition is” (of course you have competitors in some way and of course it matters who they are). Also avoid using superlatives like “It’s an enormous market” – this just means that you don’t really know the size of your market. Instead talk in terms of your ‘addressable market’ which is who you’re trying to target. Sure, that addressable market will grow and change, but you need to work with the opportunity/market that is presented to you right now.
* The last thing you say is the most important, not the first.
Lindley also had some great advice about working with investors. She said even after the investment is secured, you’ve still got to work on the relationship with your new stakeholders. She used the analogy of Barack Obama, saying you’ve always got to “keep running for President”. She said his popularity took a dive after he was elected as he stopped acting as if he were running for the presidency.
Thanks so much to the Dell team for having me at the event. DWEN is holding a global conference in New Delhi, India next June and I’m going. If growing your business and playing a global game is up your alley, would be cool to see you there too!