Is your business ready to seek funding from outside investors? Perhaps you’re a start-up that needs money to launch as robustly as possible. Or maybe your company has been operating for a while and you want to pivot in a new direction or just take it to the next level.
Whatever the case may be, seeking outside investment isn’t as cut and dried as applying for a commercial loan. You need to wow investors with your vision, financials and business plan.
To do so, many businesses today put together a “pitch deck.” This is a digital presentation that provides a succinct, compelling description of the company, its solution to a market need, and the benefits of the investment opportunity. Here are some useful guidelines:
Keep it brief, between 10 to 12 short slides. You want to make a positive impression and whet investors’ interest without taking up too much of their time. You can follow up with additional details later.
Be concise but comprehensive. State your company’s mission (why it exists), vision (where it wants to go) and value proposition (what your product or service does for customers). Also declare upfront how much money you’d like to raise.
Identify the problem you’re solving. Explain the gap in the market that you’re addressing. Discuss it realistically and with minimal jargon, so investors can quickly grasp the challenge and intuitively agree with you.
Describe your target market. Include the market’s size, composition and forecasted growth. Resist the temptation to define the market as “everyone,” because this tends to come across as unrealistic.
Outline your business plan. That is, how will your business make money? What will you charge customers for your solution? Are you a premium provider or is this a budget-minded product or service?
Summarize your marketing and sales plans. Describe the marketing tactics you’ll employ to garner attention and interact with your customer base. Then identify your optimal sales channels and methods. If you already have a strong social media following, note that as well.
Sell your leadership team. Who are you and your fellow owners/executives? What are your educational and business backgrounds? Perhaps above everything else, investors will demand that a trustworthy crew is steering the ship.
Provide a snapshot of your financials, both past and future. But don’t just copy and paste your financial statements onto a few slides. Use aesthetically pleasing charts, graphs and other visuals to show historical results (if available), as well as forecasted sales and income for the next several years. Your profit projections should realistically flow from historical performance or at least appear feasible given expected economic and market conditions.
Identify your competitors. What other companies are addressing the problem that your product or service solves? Differentiate yourself from those businesses and explain why customers will choose your solution over theirs.
Describe how you’ll use the funds. Show investors how their investment will allow you to fulfill your stated business objectives. Be as specific as possible about where the money will go.