The following are statements that I made when I raised money for my first startup. When I look back at them they make me cringe. Now, those are statements that I hear as an investor when entrepreneurs pitch their startups. Here are the statements, and here is what I think when I hear them.

1. "Everyone will want to pay $10 extra a month for this!"

No, they won't. It's fine that you are in love with your product or service, but the rest of us are not. Users try to get everything for free. The value has to really be there for someone to pay.

2. "There are no competitors in this market"

If there are no competitors, maybe there is no market? Show who the competitors are. Show what customers care about, and how you offer better value than competitors, but no competition means there is no market.

3. "You can't do this with two people in a garage for a year"

How long did it really take you and your team, and how big was your team? Don't assume that you and your team can do something that nobody else can. Besides, you probably went through a lot of trial-and-error, and the company who will copy you may go straight to the final product, saving time.

4. "It's a little hard to explain"

If it's hard to explain to investors, guess how hard will it be to explain to your early adopter customers. "Hard to explain" is sometimes the same as "the value proposition is not really there."

5. "Sorry for the eye-chart"

Once I lost my temper and yelled at my daughter Shira. Later I came to apologize. She said: "don't say you're sorry, just don't do it again!" Don't apologize for the eye-chart. Just don't do it! Make your slides readable and concise.

6. "This will take Google out of business"

That's a pretty tall order, and Google is not planning on letting a tiny startup take it out of business. Don't even assume that they will acquire you. They may just squash you with their patent portfolio. Besides, making a statement like this makes you come across as arrogant and unrealistic. You just made an impression...

7. "All we need is 1% of this market"

If you get 1%, it means that someone else got 99% of it. Why? And why will someone buy from you and not from the 99% gorilla? After all, nobody ever got fired for choosing IBM... Define a segment you can dominate, and be a big fish in a small pond, rather than a small fish in a large pond.

8. "I don't know why nobody thought about this before"

Here is what I hear when you say that: this is trivial, and everybody else is stupid. Either someone else has already thought about it, or it is much more complex than you are making it to be. Maybe it is not even feasible. Investor like to see "rocket science" in your products, and that you are one of only a few people in the world with a special knowledge or experience to pull it off.

9. "This product will sell itself"

No product sells itself. When investors hear this statement, their conclusion is that you either don't understand the market and channel, or you simply don't have a marketing plan.

 

Investors want to see a confident entrepreneur, but don't confuse that with an arrogant entrepreneur. They want to see a thoughtful, pragmatic development and market launch plan. Each one of the statements above will indicate you don't have any or all of those.