Five tips for creating the perfect business pitch

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Michael Ruffles, content and social media manager at Virgin Startup, reveals five tips for delivering an awesome business pitch.

Here at Virgin, we hear hundreds of business pitches each week whether they're squeezed into 140 characters on social media, presented to us in a business plan or face to face over a drink at one of our start up events. With that in mind, here are my top tips on delivering a pitch that wins over investors and  makes them desperate to work with you.

Less is always best
 
A good elevator pitch is vital. You need to be able to explain your business and what it does in two sentences, 60 seconds and 140 characters. It needs to be clear, succinct and straight to the point. Doing that will grab attention straight away and means people are more likely to listen to the rest of what you have to say. If an investor, fellow entrepreneur or journalist doesn’t immediately understand what your business is and the problem it solves, then it’s unlikely they’ll dig further.
 
To perfect your elevator pitch, it's important to practice and the best way to do that to by attending networking events. Every time you meet a new person and they ask about your business or business idea, you have the chance to see if you can explain it in a way that they understand.
 
Facts, facts and facts
 
The best way to inspire confidence in your business is through cold-hard facts. Don't wax lyrical about how big your target market is and that even if you attracted just 1% of it, you could make millions in profit. If you're pitching for investment, then a company cash flow with realistic projections for the future and solid proof that your business idea has legs is always wise.
 
 
Know your weaknesses and show them
 
Entrepreneurs tend to be a a jack-of-all-trades, jumping from marketing to product design to developing to accounting. But it’s virtually impossible to be a true expert at all of them. So tell whoever you're pitching to what you're great at, and where you need help. The best entrepreneurs surround themselves with smart people who they trust to help grow their business. If it's investment that you want, showing that you understand your weaknesses will demonstrate that  you're realistic and know what you need to succeed. If it’s at a networking event, then this might help you find a co-founder or first employee.
 
Don't break the bank
 
If you're pitching for investment, don't steam in asking for shedloads of cash. Ask for just enough to make your one product or service work. Show that you want to prove a small part of your business can work before taking on anything bigger. The businesses that are so good the founder can prove the start-up will grow even without investment are the ones that become the most desirable for investors.
 
Be authentic
 
The single most attractive thing about any business is the entrepreneur behind it. That is the person who people want to work with and investors can trust with their cash. Don't pitch your idea wearing a suit and tie if that's not you. People can see through lies very quickly. If you're yourself and show that your personality connects seamlessly with the product or service you're trying to launch, then it makes your pitch 100% better. Just being yourself should help you to be more confident and avoid any nerves.
  
Practice your pitch by entering the #Pitch2Rich competition. If you're shortlisted, you'll get to present your business to Sir Richard Branson for the chance to win £5,000 investment. For more information, please visit www.virginmediapioneers.com, follow @VMPioneers and #Pitch2Rich on Twitter or like Virgin Media Pioneers on Facebook.
Dan Martin
Former editor
BusinessZone.co.uk
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