The renowned businessman and entrepreneur James Caan shares his advice on the perfect elevator pitch.
"I’ve had business ideas pitched to me thousands of times in all manner of places – boardrooms, hotels, public bathrooms and even in a traffic jam on the M1".
"I’ve also seen plenty of strange ideas, some of which I’ve actually backed such as Sammie French’s dog treadmills on Dragons’ Den. My fellow judges couldn’t believe it but the treadmills went on to become one of my most successful investments".
"Thinking in terms of an elevator pitch is a great thing, because it forces you to put your message together in an effective way. Whether you’re pitching to a client or an investor, it can really add value to your skill set".
James Caan shares his top tips on how to pitch:
"In my experience too many pitches get bogged down in overly complicated language or rely far too heavily on eye-catching PowerPoints. I always think that if I’m unable to understand your idea after a few minutes, customers certainly won’t! Therefore you should try and keep the jargon to a minimum and explain things in a business-like yet simple way. You want to sound professional but there are ways to do this without boring people".
"I said your pitch should be simple but this doesn’t mean it should be poorly thought out – in other words, you must do your research. Your pitch can be short and snappy, but what happens if you get caught out with a question you don’t know the answer to? Know your idea inside out and know your audience – what market are they in, what sort of deals do they tend to do? This also allows you to tailor your pitch, which is a definite tick in the box".
Pitch with Passion
"An idea becomes far more enticing when I can see the person behind it is genuinely passionate. At the end of the day, business is all about people and the more I believe in you, the more I believe in your business".
Sell with subtlety
"A pitch doesn’t need to be aggressive or over the top. All you want to do is generate enough interest for them to take things further down the line. Explain the essence of what you are pitching and then, most importantly, what your USP is. There should always be some sort of differentiator, something which adds value and sets you apart from everybody else. This is the make or break element – get it right and your chances of succeeding just went up".
Anyone can have a great business idea. If you're interested in setting up your own business, get in touch with The Prince's Trust and we could help make it happen.