The U.S. economy reversed a five-year downward trend in startup activity last year with a big jump in the number of new entrepreneurs. Investors have no shortage of amazing investment opportunities. If your startup is just another good choice, there's a better one down the road. Your business needs to be the most exceptional choice available to catch the eye, and the pocketbook, of an investor.
1. Elaborate on your education.
Don't understate where you gained your education. Whether you received a degree from a prestigious university or you learned your trade from years of firsthand experience as an entrepreneur, investors want to gain an understanding of who you are as a businessman or woman. Put numbers to achievements, explain projects you've led and their outcomes, elaborate on responsibilities and skills utilized in previous roles--and most importantly, discuss your failures and the lessons they've taught you.
2. Break down your business plan.
Clearly outline expectations of your company so investors understand that your project does X to achieve Y, benefitting Z. Showcase your knowledge about the market you are entering. Explain the need your company or product will address and the direct impact it will have on the market.
3. Showcase your passion.
With entrepreneur overload, you have to be 100 percent committed to your idea in order to stand out. Stick to a clear cut objective in your discussion and avoid elaborating on ideas that are outside the business you are seeking funding for. By doing so, you'll demonstrate focus and commitment - two important qualities investors look for.
4. Be confident, but don't over promise.
It takes a lot to create a great business plan, but what's more is the confidence it takes to deliver it. If you truly believe that you can do what you set out to, investors will believe it, too. However, remember to avoid over-promising sales or revenue. Make sure your facts and figures add up, and refrain from using language like "the leading", "the first," etc. Those can serve as red flags for investors.
As you can see, it's not just about the business--it's about you. Your investor audience will actually try to throw you off-track, they will test your knowledge, and question your claims. The best thing you can do to prepare is to roll play. Have someone rapid fire questions at you that may divert you from the topic at hand, and practice brief answers that efficiently segue back to your pitch. An entrepreneur who can think on their feet is worth their weight in gold.