This past week at the WeMedia PitchIt! Challenge, an all-star cast of judges and mentors shared advice to entrepreneurs working to launch new businesses. Here are 7 tips from this amazing event to help you grow and pitch your start-up.
1: Thrive, Don’t Sustain
Find (and communicate) a revenue model that is as robust as it is diverse. With such rapid innovation and fluctuating economic issues, you need to be protected against changes and competitors. Get creative with your core competencies and use them in as many ways as possible. Need inspiration? Look at Amazon. From selling books to its latest innovation, the Amazon Locker, it continues to expand its retail prowess by delivering stellar customer service, and making sure the right things get to the right people at the right time.
2: Make Others Believe You WILL Grow
‘How will you grow‘ is one of the most fundamental questions for any business. As valuable as your core product or service is, it won’t reach critical mass without a marketing and sales plan. You probably don’t have a lot of money, so you have to be reasonable with your plan, but be creative and innovative, too. And when sharing your plan, be specific. Consider reading more about bootstrap marketing, and also 10 Startup Marketing Tips from Mashable.
3: Stand on the Shoulders of Giants
Develop, nurture, and expand key partnerships. EVERY company can have partners to help it achieve its goals. Common partner-types include technology, distribution, retail, promotion, nonprofit, network, and industry to name a few. If you can add enough value, these partners will help you grow rapidly.
3.5: Stand on the Shoulders of Giants, Again
If you’re idea is new, it’s going to take some time for everybody else to understand it. Make it as easy as possible. Try explaining it with using things that already exist, and people are familiar with.
4: Don’t Let Facts Get in the Way
People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Check out Simon Sinek’s video, Stat With Why to learn more about that. And if you are seeking investment, know that investors put money behind a person and a team, not the idea. Let your passion for your idea – and how it will grow and make the world better – always shine through. Details are of course important, but they can often overshadow the bigger picture and diminish your passion and commitment.
5. Find the RIGHT Supporters and the RIGHT Money
Don’t seek short-term wins and sacrifice long-term success. Ask any entrepreneur or any VC and they’ll tell you stories about startups that went to VCs too early. If the business model isn’t proven yet, don’t waste your time talking to VCs. And even if the idea is proven, make sure to explore other options. Don’t let the sexiness of raising millions of dollars cloud your vision. Investors want big returns, now, and they’ll push you for it, hard. The same thing can be said about customers, too. Find the the right money, not just any money.
6. Talk About REALITY, Not a Made up Future
Your revenue projections might look great, but we all know they’re wrong. Show investors and partners the reality of your present situation. Show other facts and statistics that show opportunity, but don’t spend time convincing investors that you’re financial projections are perfect and indisputable. You can’t control your revenues, you can only control your costs. As much as you highlight revenue predictions, make sure to spend as much time explaining how you will be controlling expenses.
7. Show IMPACT
Have a clear path to show how revenues will be used, and how they will generate impact. Investors and potential customers want to see that your idea is a game-changer, and that it will be impactful in the near and long-term. And this means more than just huge ROI. It means building a GREAT company that people will want to work at, delivering products and services that HELP people, as well as contribute to the GREATER GOOD.
Go start something. Succeed or fail, you will do something remarkable that will change your life. Need more tips on how to get started? Read about 16 Lessons for Starting Social Enterprises.