Pitching a business to investors

Building value into your business: Your pitch deck, the outcome of your efforts

Your pitch deck is the culmination of the value building process. This makes it both your goal and the measure of how effective your efforts have been. The value of your business and your ability to communicate it are both represented by your pitch deck.

Putting this presentation together will help you better visualize and organize the inner workings of your operation, lending clarity to your quest to optimize. Your pitch deck should evolve as your business evolves, reflecting increases in the market value of your business — and increases in your knowledge of that market value.

Without the ability to communicate, the market value of your business won’t get you far. The challenge of building an effective pitch deck will familiarize you with all the things you need to be familiar with. In effect, this work is practice. Discussing your business with potential buyers will be a natural conversation if you’ve spent enough time on it. And that’s something we can’t stress enough: the best thing you can do to make sure you get an appreciable price for your company is to start the value building process this week.

What you need to know about building your pitch deck

Think of this like any other sale. All of the sales and marketing wisdom you’ve learned over your years of business applies, but this time, the product is your business. Your pitch will be most effective if its brief, succinct and easy to understand.

Both you and potential buyers have a finite amount of time. Demonstrate the value you place on time by making the presentation only as long as it needs to be. On that note, keep in mind that you’re only trying to move the buyer toward a letter of intent — not share all the details they’ll need to actually finalize the purchase. There’s time for more later.

Use visuals when you can, and favor easy wording when it is sufficiently technical and professional. Finally, you’ll want your pitch deck to tell a story. That means beginning, middle and end — some sort of story about how your brand has developed to more effectively solve problems.

Pitch deck structure

The structure of effective pitch decks is straightforward. If you want to be creative, there’s room for that within the tried and true structure — the one investors are familiar with, and will appreciate. This works best as slideshow or a simple stack of pages. 10-12 slides is the appropriate amount, with each slide/page being dedicated to the purposes outlined below.

1. Use a title that alludes to what your presentation will cover, then grab your audience’s attention with a (moderately) dramatic hook.

2. Illustrate the problem your business solves for its customers

3. Illustrate the solution your business provides for your customers

4. Show your audience the potential for growth in your business model by illustrating the addressable market

5. Help your audience assess the costs and efforts involved in capturing market share by fleshing out the competitive landscape within that market

6. Show the audience how you solve the customer’s problem by detailing your go-to-market strategy

7. Communicate the profit awaiting your audience by telling the financial story of your company: past performance and future projections. For more details on the data to use, you can see this post.

8. Introduce the buyer to the people who make the magic happen within your company. They’ll want to know how valuable these people are — ie what they do and how they do it — as well as how reliable they are going to be in the future. To explore important considerations in building a desirable team, see this post.

9. Prepare the audience to learn what it will cost them to take over your business by sharing your exit strategy.

10. Complete the presentation with your request — a clear statement of what you’re asking the interested buyer for, in exchange for your business.

11. Help your audience to recall the important parts of your pitch by concluding with a memorable finish, in the form of a statement or phrase that sticks in the mind and neatly summarizes or alludes to the wonderful opportunity awaiting them.

12. If you feel its important, you can include other information and resources in an appendix for the buyer’s reference. Keep in mind that is meant to be reference material, not part of the presentation.

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