I know I have been very busy and you have not heard from me in a while. However, I have been doing what I love – coaching entrepreneurs. I was privileged to have served as a coach for the PitchIt Caribbean 2017 edition sponsored by the World Bank. This time the event was held in my home country of St. Kitts. I had the enviable task of coaching six of the 25 Caribbean entrepreneurs with lead coach Sergio Escobar of Montreal, Canada. I was thrilled to note the innovation, willingness to embrace change, and to endure useful critique exhibited by these entrepreneurs.
If you are an entrepreneur considering entering a pitch competition, here are my top 5 tips for pitching successfully:
- Develop a thick skin – pitch competitions, accelerators, and incubator programs generally have a mentorship or coaching component. Remember, listen to your coaches and mentors and do not take it personally when you are critiqued. Instead, clarify, learn, and modify. Businesses are not static entities and coaches and mentors have an objective lens coupled with experience with which to view your business. They are trying to help not hurt.
- Ensure your business model is sound – if your business model is not sound then all assumptions and hypotheses will also be shaky. Understand the elements of your business model. Here is a previous post on the business model to assist. I also offer business model guidance.
- Understand your market thoroughly – you should have an intimate knowledge of your competitors locally, regionally, and virtually. Drill down into your target market – is it a business or an individual consumer? This is important distinction as the strategies to reach your ideal customer will be dependent on these two categorizations.
- What is your value – this is critical. Why would the customer choose you? What value are you providing that others are not? This is why someone would consider investing – and more importantly this is what creates revenue.
- Validate – judges want to know what have you done in terms of customer discovery. Remember everything included in your business model is a hypothesis. You have decided that 14 to 18 year old girls will be your target market. What have you done to validate this theory? Have you had focus groups? Have you conducted a survey? Even better have you sold anything to them?
I do hope this helps. Do read, post and share.