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How to Create a Successful Pitch Deck

Two Things that MUST Be in Every Elevator Pitch

I started this series of blogs outlining the stages of business development and what I believe to be the single most important concept in the development of your business. It is understanding the concept of making assumptions versus validating them. Assumptions are just concepts, ideas, thoughts. Assumptions are often wrong because they are not based or backed up by real facts. Assumptions are often simply gut feelings internalized to the point that the person outlining them can believe them to be facts. Assumptions are not facts. Testing your assumptions and ultimately verifying them with concrete data is a must for every business to succeed.

I then moved to outline how the real key to long term success comes from understanding the various components of your business as well as possible, and better than your competition. Each of these were addressed in subsequent blogs: Problem Definition, Solution Definition, Opportunity/Market, Competitive Advantage, Business Model, Culture/People/Structure, and your Business/Financial Plan. No matter how you have chosen to document your assumptions, once you have a solid set of validated assumptions, like it or not, you have a business plan! Every successful business needs one and the earlier you start developing one the better off you will be.

The final thing I want to hit on is your pitch deck. Whether you seek funding or not, it is the best way to communicate your plan to both potential funding sources and employees. To be clear, if you are seeking funding you need a very succinct Executive Summary (ES) of your plan, which should always be developed after the plan is done. In addition, you may need various legal documents. In some cases, the ES in your business plan will suffice, in others you may require something more formal like an “accredited investor” ES. But to me you always need some type of pitch deck (PowerPoint preferred) to share your plan with those in need, especially those that will be executing the plan.

Your pitch deck consists of your Elevator Pitch or Mission/Vision statements, and outlines the goals of the interaction you are using it for. Like other attributes of your planning these may be based on assumptions early on, but that is okay. Defining them gives you the core of your business to share with people you will be interacting with to develop/grow your business.

To me the best Elevator Pitch is two sentences: your vision statement followed by your mission statement. You need to define what problem it is that you are trying to solve…why people are going to take money out of their pockets and give it to you…and you need to define how you plan to solve that problem. The best pitch decks are also very visual, forcing the people being addressed to listen to the content of the message being delivered…and not read the slides.

What is most important is to develop the text for each slide and make sure it addresses the particular audience you are presenting to. Employees will need different information than perhaps upper management. Investors will need different information from employees. Bankers will need different information than equity investors. Venture Capitalists will want different information than Private Equity investors. You may want to share portions of your plan with vendors or other stakeholders, and you need to adjust the content accordingly.

Well, that wraps up what I will be publishing as “Mitch’s Framework to Business Development” later this year. Your challenge this week is the same as I outlined last month. Internalize as much of this information as possible and then make goals and plans to fill in the holes. The earlier in your development you start this process the better. Once you are launched you will not have time to research everything you really need to in order to be successful. Planning will enable you to identify the important things to focus on and allow you to develop proper metrics and tracking mechanisms in order to keep track of your progress.

Once a year the plan should be updated for the following year. That means reviewing all of the assumptions you made and determining what, if anything, has changed that may have impacted those assumptions. If an assumption is no longer valid, the process of validation must start over and the plan probably will need to be updated.

Best of planning! (I don’t believe in business luck)

Mitchell Bolnick – The Excel Consulting Group