This was originally published on Intellicore’s blog.

Trudging from one investor to the next to convince them to invest in your business seems like a hopelessly inefficient process. But, good news: It doesn’t have to be!

If you have a compelling pitch deck that clearly shows you are worth the investment, you will be able to spend less time chasing down investors and more time actually work on building your business.

Here are a couple of tips to speed up the pitching process and show investors that you have what it takes to build a successful business.

1. Remember your audience

Investors and venture capitalists want to invest in projects that are going to make them money, so keep your focus on how our business is going to grow – and why investors should fork over their hard-earned cash to help you build it.

If your business uses a proprietary technology, introduce it from an investor’s perspective – how is the technology going to grow the business (and guarantee a return on investment)?

If you have identified a pain point in society that other businesses aren’t addressing, that’s excellent – now calculate the potential revenue solving that pain point could earn.

If you speak in language they can understand, it will be that much easier to convince them to fund your project.

2. Keep it short and sweet

Remember that investors receive thousands of requests per week. They are almost certainly not going to take the time to sift through a dense stack of information to pull out the key points.

On the contrary, investors studied the average pitch deck for an average of just 3 minutes and 44 seconds.

When you’re working with less time than it takes to order a drink at Starbucks, you need to make sure your key points are front and center.

The 10/20/30 rule – developed in the 1970s by marketing guru Guy Kawasaki – is a good place to start:

  • Keep your deck no longer than 10 slides
  • Talk for less than 20 minutes
  • Use no smaller than 30-point font

If you can’t even hold investors’ attention, you’re definitely not going to be holding a check when you walk out of that room.

3. Prove that you’re worth it

Use graphics and large font so investors can effortlessly understand your potential – you can never go wrong with easy-to-digest facts and figures, especially when you’re working on a tight timeframe.

Social proof also works great. If people are raving about you on social media, be sure to include it in your pitch. Investors want to fund winning projects. And if you have a large following people excited to see you launch, that’s often proof enough.

4. Show how you’re better than the competition

Who are the other players in the field, and what makes you different? What’s your competitive advantage?

If you have proprietary technology or killer experience, here is your chance to show it off.

Tell investors about the things that only you can bring to the table – because that is what will make you stand out from the crowd.

5. Make your financials shine

Investors spend 23% of their time on the financial slide, longer than any other slide. If you have been in business for a few years and have accumulated a good amount of financial evidence, you absolutely need to include it – and be sure to take extra care to make sure investors can quickly and easily absorb key information.

6. Flaunt your team

Investors know that successful companies start with high caliber teams of ambitious individuals – which is why they spend almost as long looking at the “Team” slide as they do looking at “Financials”.

Demonstrate the unique skill that each team member will bring to the table and how your team will be able to work together to push your company to success.

7. Prove there’s a market

If you have been in business for a few years, take the opportunity to calculate customer growth. A large uptick in customers in a short period of time proves that there is a large untapped market just waiting to be reached – which is music to investors’ ears.

If you don’t have any solid numbers to back you up (i.e. you are just getting started), make sure you include some simple graphics depicting the results of a TAM SAM SOM analysis:

TAM – Total Available Market (all the people in the world)

SAM – Served Available Market (the people your business could realistically reach)

SOM – Serviceable Obtainable Market (the portion of your SAM that could realistically become customers)

If you can demonstrate that there is a reasonably sized market and proven demand for your solution, investors will be lining up to give you money.

8. Clearly outline your business plan

Having a great idea is one thing, but having a clear plan for getting your business off the ground is something totally different. When you’re presenting your business plan, make sure you include a timeline with each milestone clearly depicted.

Nobody is going to invest in some vague semblance of a plan. They’ll want to know exactly how you’re planning to get your business off the ground (read: how you’re going to spend their money and how fast they’ll be getting their money back).

9. Work with an agency

The benefit of working with an agency is that they have been through the motions before – they have worked with dozens of other start-ups and they know exactly how to make investors straighten up and pay attention.

You only have one shot to show investors that you have what it takes – make it a hit!

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