You are looking to start your first business. You have solidified your idea. You have completed your market research and created a business plan. All of the puzzle pieces you need to kick off a successful start-up are finally falling into place, but there is still one obstacle you must overcome: the final business pitch. This is the Shark Tank moment that you have been waiting for!
Business pitches are an opportunity to explain the core mission of your start-up, and more importantly, why it will succeed amongst competitors. Learning how to discuss your business idea and encourage investors to support you financially can be a strenuous process, but UNLV DECA is here to help! We have reached out to several business professionals who have experience in the investing world and can give you tips on how to formulate an effective business pitch. Let’s start off by introducing our panelists!
Get to Know our Panelists
“I am Professor Mike Sullivan. I have taught Finance courses at UNLV since 1991. I have taught a Student Managed Fund class (Rebel Investment Group) since its inception in 2010.”
“I currently serve as the Secretary/Treasurer of the Nevada Registered Agents Association and also sit on their Board of Directors. I have over 16 years’ experience in the corporate and financial world and am one of the Founders of Corporate Capital, Inc. Previously, I served as the general manager, where I consistently had over 30 sales professionals working under me and was in charge of all day-to-day operations, with peak sales at 12 million.”
“My name is Greg Phelps and I’ve been a financial planner for 25 years. I’ve had my own practice for 15 years, and I focus on helping people achieve the retirement they’ve dreamed of without the worry most retirees have.” To learn more about Greg Phelps’ work as a financial planner and the services he offers, check out his website: https://redrockwealth.com/.
We have asked our panelists a variety of questions that focus on the basics of a business pitch presentation. These responses should help you understand what investors typically look for and how you can tell the story of your business.
What does a good business idea typically look like?
“A great business puts the client first in every aspect of their services and interaction. A great business is a fiduciary business, where the company owes the highest standard of care to the client above all else. I don’t know what a good business looks like because anything less than the ultimate duty of care to help the client achieve financial prosperity is a bad business, by this I specifically mean companies who are more focused on their own profits than their customers results.” – Greg Phelps
What differentiates a good business pitch from a great one?
“Giving a clear understanding of your product but more importantly how you can help your customer. Your customer ultimately wants to know what is in it for them and how you can help solve their problems. Make sure you are able to separate yourself from the competition.” – Brent Carlson
How long should a business pitch typically be?
“Length will vary. Long enough to provide the most important information, but short enough to keep the listeners’ attention.” – Michael Sullivan
What do investors typically want to see from someone’s business pitch?
“What their ROI is going to be and how quickly will they see that return. I know it sounds blunt but it’s true. Investors really only care about one thing and that is money. This is okay! That is why they invest.” – Brent Carlson
“People want to know what’s in it for them. They don’t care about numbers or bells or whistles as much as they do feeling confident that the company or advisor can help them live the life they want. Most companies focus on how great they are instead of how they can help the client/customer so it’s a win-win all around. So my pitch is really we can help you live the retirement you’ve always dreamed of through brilliant planning and exceptional management. NOTE I didn’t say my annuity is best or my investments will earn more. It’s about the client not the products.” – Greg Phelps
What are some of the best ways that a student can prepare for their pitch delivery?
“Practice! Present in front of other students or friends and have them ask you questions. Make sure you let them know that constructive criticism is appreciated.” – Michael Sullivan
What are some red flags you might hear during a business pitch that would discourage you from investing?
“Inaccuracies. Especially numbers. If I hear inconsistencies, especially with numbers I start to feel like they are guessing rather than knowing the true numbers. If I am going to invest I want to know what I am investing in and my risk…This is why we recommend and even help write business plans for our clients….” – Brent Carlson
“Red flags are everything I described. If the company/advisor pitch is how great they are and how much better the stuff they sell is, people should run the other way.” – Greg Phelps
What questions do investors typically ask after hearing a business pitch?
“Depends on the pitch. Obviously, an investor wants answers to questions pertaining to product sales growth, margins, and expenses.” – Michael Sullivan
Coming up with a business idea is easy; convincing strangers to invest in your business and believe in your idea is the hard part. Completing your first business pitch can be a daunting task, but hopefully these tips can help make your pitch a bit more perfect! Special thanks to our panelists, Professor Michael Sullivan, Brent Carlson, and Greg Phelps, for sharing these pointers with our chapter. If you would like to learn more about these professionals and the work they do, please email our chapter at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck with your future business pitches, Rebels!