Making the leap from college student to entrepreneur can be daunting; especially when pitching your idea to investors. Presenting college projects to peers and professors may have given you some experience, but successfully selling your business plan to a room full of executives requires practice, polish, and professionalism.
To avoid the most common mistakes, follow these top tips:
1. Poor Time Management
A thorough business plan presentation should last about an hour. If you’re the person presenting, the responsibility of time management is yours.
You need to plan your use of time carefully, or risk running out of time to explain essential aspects of your idea.
2. Not Pitching Correctly
It’s not uncommon for several members of a team to attend a presentation. However, investors want to hear from the CEO.
If the CEO isn’t adept at public speaking, they’ll need to practice. This isn’t a college group project, it’s a business pitch. Relying on others to pull the CEO through isn’t going to cut it.
3. Forgetting Visual Elements
Not every investor pays attention to visual slides—but some will be put off if you don’t provide them.
Create a detailed visual presentation, just in case. Visual presentations are the gold standard in the business world, and most investors will expect you to bring one along.
4. Not Identifying the ‘Big Problem’
Your presentation should start by highlighting WHY your company has been created. If you don’t address this driving force in detail, you can’t explain how your business aims to solve it.
5. Failing to Be Convincing
Your presentation must be convincing. You can achieve this by implementing a mix of credible and accurate information, honest forecasts, confidence, and personal belief in your business plan and capabilities.
6. Lacking in Focus
The last thing you want during a presentation is to veer off on a tangent. One question from an investor can send a conversation down dozens of different paths, few of which were included in your original strategy.
If your meeting veers off course, respectfully regain control and direction.
7. Telling a Weak Story
Your business plan needs to tell a story, and your presentation gives you the chance to relay that story to investors. If your storyline is poorly coordinated or weak, investors may not see the merit in investing in you.
Make your business’s story coherent, compelling, and told in enough detail to make sense to outside parties. There may be a generation gap you need to account for.
8. Ignoring Your Audience
The point of your presentation is to demonstrate how you can make investors’ money. Your interviewers are assessing whether you’re a good investment.
You’ll need to ditch the student mindset and focus on how your ideas and skills can benefit investors. Leave out your college achievements, sports trophies, or hobbies. They’re not relevant!
9. Underestimating Your Competition
Confidently stating your business won’t face any competition is not a smart move. Such bold assertions make you seem egotistical, arrogant, and poorly read.
If you conduct enough market research, you’ll always find competition, no matter your sector or market. Being honest about potential challenges shows you’re reasonable and level-headed.
10. Dressing Too Casually
The point of a business plan presentation is to impress investors. Stereotypical student attire has no place at a pitch.
You’re going from the dorm room to the boardroom and need to look the part. Dressing smartly and professionally will make you seem mature and capable.
You can always put on your hoodie once the seed money is in the bank!