I spent the first half of the week editing a comprehensive business plan for my new tech startup. I’m bias of course, but it’s an exciting company. And we’re working on what could be some game changing technology. The potential benefits of the technology are obvious too, easily understandable by a layman and apparent to an engineer, which makes the company’s story easy to explain when fund raising (a huge advantage compared to many new tech deals). Yet for some reason, when reading the business plan, which I played a big role in drafting, I was put to sleep…
It was written over the course of a few weeks by founders, engineers and finance people, all individuals who are passionate about the startup and have skin in the game. But as a result of how close we all are to the deal, every little technicality and tidbit of information was included in the business plan, which made it far too complex; and quite frankly, it was boring. There’s no way any investor would sit down and read that business plan start to finish…
Because all contributors to the business plan are working closely with the company, we oversold the tech. We’ve been so married to this technology over the past year that we forgot, or at least didn’t portray, what the initial attraction to it was. We forgot what sold us on the tech!
In our business plan we brushed past the obvious and most apparent benefits, and oversold the technicalities. We used jargon and scientific words, which could have easily been translated into layman language, to describe the features – language which most people would not understand. It was bad.
When you eat, sleep and breathe your product/service, you tend to get too close to it, which can cause you to focus on the minor details while overlooking the big picture pitch. As entrepreneurs, we must not overlook the fact that a simple pitch is far more effective than a complex one.
Focus on the top 2 benefits of your product, and the other lesser features can serve as side points or footnotes. There is such a thing as overselling, and venture capitalists and other investors, the people who will help get your startup funded and heading in the right direction, want clear and simple explanations as to why your company is going to improve its target industry.
Colin Powell once said that “Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers…” The same is true for entrepreneurs and pitchmen.
When explaining and pitching your startup, keep it simple. Focus on one, max two, features that your startup has the potential to do better than anything else on the market.
Be aware of the dangers of getting ‘too close to your deal’.