5 Pitch Deck Mistakes You MUST NOT Make

  • by Julia Elliott Brown
  • 07 Jun, 2017

When you're out raising investment for your business, FORGET producing a 40 page Business Plan. Don't even THINK about sending a Business Plan out to people. Why? Because NOBODY has time to plough through this beast of a document!

Don't get me wrong. You need a Business Plan. Your Business Plan is a document for YOU, to guide you in how you are going to implement your business strategy.

But....when you're out raising investment, the document you REALLY need is a Pitch Deck. And this document needs to be STELLAR.

Your Pitch Deck is THE main tool you'll be using when you have conversations with prospective investors.

And you know what? Professional investors see HUNDREDS of Pitch Decks each year. So the truth is, you MUST make sure that YOUR deck does an outstanding job for you.

A great Pitch Deck can make ALL the difference in enabling you to be successful at raising finance.... so that you can take your business to the next level and stop treading water.

A great Pitch Deck enables you to do these 4 key things:

1) Build rapport with your investor

2) Show your investor how you can solve their problem

3) Qualify potential investors to make sure there's a good fit

4) Close their commitment to invest in your business

But guess what? Most entrepreneurs FAIL to address all 4 of these things in their pitch deck, and so they FAIL to secure investment.

Here are the 5 things I see that are wrong with most Pitch Decks:

1) They're overcomplicated

2) They don't tell a good story

3) They aren't honest and authentic

4) They're full of jargon

5) They don't look professional

And honestly, it makes me weep when I see what is a fantastic business, with a smart entrepreneur behind it, with great potential to secure investment for growth..... that is simply being LET DOWN with a poor Pitch Deck.

Have you produced your Pitch Deck yet? Is it good enough? Are you SURE it's good enough?! Want some help with it? Reach out and let's have a chat.


by Julia Elliott Brown 18 Aug, 2017

So how do you figure this out when you're out there seeking your first investment round?

Of course, you want to make sure that your valuation is attractive for investors. Because otherwise, you may end up with no investment, and no business. It's better to have a slightly smaller piece of what will be a much bigger pie down the line once you have that investment, rather than no pie at all.

But you also need to make sure that the valuation is right for YOU. That YOU get a fair deal out of this.

Now, you can search online about how to value a business. There are lots of different calculations you can do.

  • The asset approach - where you look at what it has cost to build the business so far
  • The market approach - where you look at similar businesses and value yourself against them
  • The income approach - where you calculate the value based on a multiple of revenue or profit

But the truth is, when it comes to valuing a start-up, absolutely none of this is relevant . You cannot use simple maths to work it out. In fact, there is no right answer on how to value your business.

Some people get a bit greedy. Have an overinflated opinion of what their company is worth, when they haven't really got much traction yet. Valuing your company at £10m+ when you're only just out of the blocks is not going to wash. You might think you're going to be the next unicorn, but quite frankly it's unlikely. You’ll lose any integrity you had with investors, nobody will invest, and your dreams of making a real difference in the world will never be realised

Others are nervous and go in too low. Maybe because their revenues are small or profits are negligible or negative. Maybe because they don't have any experience in fundraising, and don't know what they're doing. Maybe because they feel desperate. They end up giving away too much equity, and massively reduce the potential that they can make down the line when their company is successful.

Somewhere in the middle of those two scenarios works. But how to do you make sure that you get the best deal?

Here are some things you need to think about FIRST...

  • How much finance do you need to raise to get to your next milestone?
  • Based on your proposed valuation, how much of your company will you need to give away?
  • How much control will investors expect to have?
  • How much control do YOU want to have?
  • Do you think you will need to raise money again in the future, and how much of your company would you need to give away then?

Ultimately at this stage, your business is worth what someone is prepared to pay for it

The most important factor in determining your valuation is what you and your investors believe your business will be worth in the future, and whether you can give them a great return on the investment that is put in

What will influence your valuation MOST, are these things:

  • The strength of your investment proposal
  • The strength of your pitch
  • The kind of investors you speak with
  • How YOU the entrepreneur come across when you meet with them
  • And how well you can negotiate your deal

These are the things you need to focus on, rather than sitting down with a calculator and trying to do the maths to work out your valuation.

If you're not sure about how you would value your business, and you want to have a chat about it, just reach out.

by Julia Elliott Brown 08 Aug, 2017

The latest research on Equity Investment in the UK* shows that there there’s plenty of cash available IF you have the right investment opportunity AND know how to navigate your way to investors.

But don't let the headline figures fool you...because it's getting tougher. Deal numbers overall are actually down 3.54% compared to H1 2016.

In the first half of this year, a record £3.03bn was invested in the UK, showing a 74.7% increase on the second half of 2016.

46% of this money is going into Seed Funding, which is the earliest stage of investment.

HOWEVER it’s important to note that although more is being invested, the deal sizes are getting larger and fewer deals are actually being done. There were two huge deals done this half of the year (Improbable £389m and FarFetch £313m) which have massively skewed the numbers. Deal numbers overall are down 3.54% compared to H1 2016.

This means that the market is becoming even more competitive. If you’re an early stage business seeking your first round of investment, it’s not easy to secure the funding you need.

by Julia Elliott Brown 07 Jun, 2017

When you're out raising investment for your business, FORGET producing a 40 page Business Plan. Don't even THINK about sending a Business Plan out to people. Why? Because NOBODY has time to plough through this beast of a document!

Don't get me wrong. You need a Business Plan. Your Business Plan is a document for YOU, to guide you in how you are going to implement your business strategy.

But....when you're out raising investment, the document you REALLY need is a Pitch Deck. And this document needs to be STELLAR.

Your Pitch Deck is THE main tool you'll be using when you have conversations with prospective investors.

And you know what? Professional investors see HUNDREDS of Pitch Decks each year. So the truth is, you MUST make sure that YOUR deck does an outstanding job for you.

A great Pitch Deck can make ALL the difference in enabling you to be successful at raising finance.... so that you can take your business to the next level and stop treading water.

A great Pitch Deck enables you to do these 4 key things:

1) Build rapport with your investor

2) Show your investor how you can solve their problem

3) Qualify potential investors to make sure there's a good fit

4) Close their commitment to invest in your business

But guess what? Most entrepreneurs FAIL to address all 4 of these things in their pitch deck, and so they FAIL to secure investment.

Here are the 5 things I see that are wrong with most Pitch Decks:

1) They're overcomplicated

2) They don't tell a good story

3) They aren't honest and authentic

4) They're full of jargon

5) They don't look professional

And honestly, it makes me weep when I see what is a fantastic business, with a smart entrepreneur behind it, with great potential to secure investment for growth..... that is simply being LET DOWN with a poor Pitch Deck.

Have you produced your Pitch Deck yet? Is it good enough? Are you SURE it's good enough?! Want some help with it? Reach out and let's have a chat.


by Julia Elliott Brown 24 Feb, 2017

Do your eyes glaze over when you think about preparing your FINANCE stuff for fundraising?

Trust me, you are not alone!

But without having a strong handle on your numbers, and understanding how your business is performing, you don't have a chance in hell of getting investment.

Here's what you're going to need as a minimum:


1) Management accounts

Professionally produced and up to date. So if you've been putting all those receipts in a big box, or just tracking things on Excel, now's the time to get this sorted. You can do it yourself (I'd really recommend Xero). Or if you outsource, then for goodness sake make sure you really understand the numbers and what your book-keeper / accountant is doing.

2) Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

These should include not only the critical financial indicators like Revenue, Margins and Profit, but also other indicators that are pivotal measures of how well your business is doing. This will depend on the nature of your business, but can include things like Cost Per Acquisition (CPA), repeat business, marketing effectiveness broken down by channel, customer service measures, production delivery times and quality measures just to name a few.

3) Financial forecast for the next 3 to 5 years.

This needs to be professionally produced, and should show not only your profit and loss, but also your balance sheet, and most importantly your cash flow. You will need to show what your funding requirements are, not only now, but also for any potential future investment rounds.


Once you've got your key information and forecasts, you're going to really need to understand how investors will interpret them, and the kind of financial questions they're likely to ask you.

At  Enter The Arena , we help clients every single day to figure out what they need to do attract and close investors and secure finance in the fastest possible time, whilst also growing your army of brand ambassadors.

If you have a business that is solving a real and painful problem for your customers, that is getting great traction, and has great potential for growth...

If you're getting TIRED of not being able to move your business forward, because you don't have the funding you need...

If you want to secure at least £150k in equity finance...

Schedule some time in my diary, and let me help:

http://www.enterthearena.co.uk/apply

by Julia Elliott Brown 17 Feb, 2017

Let's do the MATHS on how you can achieve and surpass a crowdfunding target of £150k....

1) Ahead of your public crowdfunding campaign, reach out to your network of friends, family, business associates, customers, fans and followers. Let's assume you have 1,000 in your network, and you can get 5% of them interested enough to talk to you, with 30% of these making an average investment of £5k, then you have £75k in the bag. This gets you to 50% of your target, which is perfect ahead of a crowdfunding launch.

2) Create a fantastic pitch on a leading crowdfunding platform; let's assume 5% of the 300,000+ investors on the platform view your video, and 0.5% of these convert to an average investment of £1k. This gets you a further £150k investment

Total investment secured = £225k and you've smashed your target by 150%.

And all this is possible within 90 days. In just 90 days time, you could have those kind of funds, or way more, sitting in your bank account..

So the MATHS are SIMPLE.

Doesn't mean any of this is EASY!

It's up to YOU to make sure you have a really fantastic investment proposition.

It's up to YOU to reach out to your network, and position the opportunity in a really appealing way

It's up to YOU to close the interest from people.

It's up to YOU to create a stellar pitch deck, financial forecasts and pitch video.

It's up to YOU to keep the momentum going throughout your crowdfunding campaign.

It's up to YOU to get those people viewing your pitch to make an investment commitment.

If you have a business that is already getting great traction, and has huge potential, and you need the funds to help you grow it to the next level..... but you're just not sure how to approach the crowdfunding process...reach out and I can help.

For more tips and tricks for Equity Crowdfunding Success, join my free Facebook Group for entrepreneurs:

some   https://www.facebook.com/groups/mastertheartofcrowdfunding/

by Julia Elliott Brown 12 Jan, 2017

If you're an entrepreneur, how much of your own money (+blood, sweat and tears of course!) have you put into your venture so far?

The answer should be,   as much as you can possibly afford to.

Why is this?

1) The longer you can go with your own personal funding, the more progress you can make without having to give away equity – so you should then get a higher valuation and   give away less   when you do raise externally.

2)   Investors love it   when you have skin in the game. It means you share the risk with them.

3) If you have your own money on the line, it   drives you to achieve more, and be extremely mindful of costs along the way

4) When you make your business a great success, the   financial rewards   to you will therefore be   greater.

5) If you don’t   back yourself, then frankly, how can you expect anyone else to?!

For more strategy tips, tricks and advice on how to successfully crowdfund, then do come along and join my FREE Facebook Group for entrepreneurs:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/mastertheartofcrowdfunding/

by Julia Elliott Brown 02 Nov, 2016

If you're an entrepreneur with a reasonably early stage business, you're probably thinking about raising investment for growth at some point in your journey.

You're might already be talking to angels and wealthy individuals about the investment opportunity, or thinking about   crowdfunding .

The thing is though, unlike VCs, those people you're talking to have absolutely no mandate or imperative to invest. This means that they’re usually looking for a reason to say ‘NO’ whenever an investment proposition comes before them.

So it's absolutely critical for you to understand where an investor might see risk in your business, and address their concerns up-front. There are at least   99 questions about your business that an investor might have in their head , and I am astounded on a daily basis how many entrepreneurs don't know the answers!

So get ahead of the pack and make sure you're well prepared. Here's a summary of the key areas that most investors will consider:

  1. Vision   - what your personal vision for what you want to achieve, and why?
  2. Problem   - how large and acute is the problem you're trying to solve?
  3. Solution   - how does your offering solve the problem and why is it the best way?
  4. Market   - is this an identifiable, large and growing market?
  5. Competitive Advantage   - what's your unique selling proposition and how will you maintain this?
  6. Customers   - who specifically are your early adopters, and which customers will then follow?
  7. Business Model   - how will you make money and what's the lifetime value of a customer?
  8. Route To Market   - how will you reach your customer, and what are the costs and timescales involved?
  9. Traction   - what proof do you already have of product to market fit?
  10. Intellectual Property   - what patents, trademarks, copyrights, domains and trade secrets do you have that give you an advantage?
  11. Team   - does your core and extended team have the right skills, experience and drive to take this idea forward?
  12. Finance   - what are your historic and future projections on revenue, costs, profit and cashflow?
  13. Risks   - what are the social, environmental, political, operational, technical and competitive risks that you might face, and how will you mitigate against them?
  14. Investment Proposition   - what is your planned funding journey, how much do you need to raise now and at what valuation, what will you do with the money?

For a really comprehensive list of what you need to prepare, download this   free report   "99 Questions To Answer Before You're Ready For Investment" . And if we can be of any support to you as you prepare to go out to fundraise, or in running a crowdfunding campaign, then do   get in touch .

by Julia Elliott Brown 08 Sep, 2016

Equity crowdfunding is an exciting and rapidly growing alternative way of raising money for business growth, and something that many entrepreneurs are considering for their next funding round. Crowdfunding is certainly an attractive route if you’re looking not only to raise finance, but also get the marketing halo that comes with putting your campaign in the public domain and attracting new investors that become your greatest brand ambassadors.

But let me warn you folks, a crowdfunding campaign is not EASY! Far from it.

Here’s a quick reality check on what’s involved, and how long it's likely to take:

by Julia Elliott Brown 18 Mar, 2016
Starting and growing a high growth potential business is one of the most exciting things in the world. But being an entrepreneur is also incredibly challenging as you try to navigate your way along the journey, often on your own, with very limited resources.

I have personally found having a business coach to be transformational for me over the years, and so worth investing in. For me, the value add is really clear:

  1. Challenge your thinking
  2. Give you perspective
  3. Help you set goals
  4. Keep you on track
  5. Give you an honest viewpoint
  6. Help you focus on priorities
  7. Work through specific problems
  8. Give you ideas
  9. Help with connections
  10. Keep you sane

  Every time I come out of a coaching session I feel refreshed, focused, and ready to take on the world!

Having a business coach doesn't need to cost the earth. You can see someone for a few hours every month, more intensively when you have a pressing need - for example when you're getting your business ready to raise investment - or just when you feel the need to. It's important to find someone who you like and can work well with.

At Enter The Arena , we help busy entrepreneurs successfully crowdfund, as well as getting them investment ready. As part of this, I work with many dynamic entrepreneurs as their business coach - the fact that I've been a successful entrepreneur myself over many years means I often know how they feel and can help give guidance and perspective. But that doesn't stop me needing my own business coach too!

If you're thinking about getting a business coach, particularly if you're at the stage where you need to get your business ready for investment, then do drop me a line and let's have a chat.

by Julia Elliott Brown 03 Feb, 2016

Although the statistics for parachute failure are not well recorded, about 1 in 500 fail, and the US Airforce estimates that 2-3% of jumpers will be injured and need help. Wow, sounds risky right? I’m not sure that I’d take my chances and jump right off a cliff, not really knowing whether my parachute was going to open, or whether I’d break my ankle at the bottom. Besides, I’m really scared of heights.

But that’s nothing compared to the risk of starting your own business, where the risks of catastrophe are so much higher. In the UK,   20% of businesses fail within the first year, 50% within three years . Which makes you wonder why the hell anyone would embark on the intrepid path of entrepreneurship.

The thing is, for many of us, entrepreneurialism is kind of in the blood – whether you do that within a corporate environment or out on your own. A love of taking an idea and making it happen, a constant journey of learning and growth, building a business that you always dreamed of, and taking control of your own destiny.

Starting your own business is a massive risk of course. But like parachute jumping, there is great joy and reward to be had on the descent, and there are many things you can do to mitigate that risk and increase your chances of a soft landing:

Consider a tandem jump

Starting on the entrepreneurial journey on your own is hard. I started my last business, Upper Street, with my sister Katy, and was so glad I did. It’s far less lonely when you have someone you can bounce ideas off and you can support each other through the challenges. Plus if you can find partners that all bring complementary skills, your business will get off to a great start.

Sign up with a reputable instructor

When embarking on the challenge of a lifetime, a good instructor can impart their experience and knowledge of how to open the parachute and not get tangled up in the cords like an idiot. Seek out a strong business mentor or seasoned advisors you can call on for specialist knowledge. I’d also recommend joining a few entrepreneurial or industry networking groups or signing up for a business incubator program; the support and learning you get from others will be invaluable. I was lucky enough to get onto the   ASTIA programme , and it really gave me the leg-up I needed.

Get some practice jumps in

Despite the prolific media coverage of the teenage start-up success story,   the average entrepreneur is aged 40 . The wealth of experience you can gather by working in corporate life or having started or run a business before should not be underestimated. My sister and I had both done plenty of ‘practice jumps’ – between us we had over 20 years of business experience before we started our own venture, and I had also run my own consultancy. The point being that you’re never too old to start a business, and in fact it can give you many advantages.

Study the weather report

You wouldn’t jump off a cliff in gale force wind. Equally in business, you need to get a strong sense that the market conditions are good before you leap. Understand the competition, the gaps in the market, the size of the potential, and whether there is underlying demand from consumers in what you are offering. Do your research! For us, this was a mix of desk-based research, but also canvassing target customer opinion (our friends, over pizza and wine). What are the possible ways the wind might blow so you can calculate where you might land? All of this should be captured in your business plan, and keep on checking the weather report all the time, as the wind can easily change direction.

Check your equipment

To make your business work, you need to have the right people, product, technology and systems. But you also need to take small steps. You wouldn’t buy your own parachute until you really became a seasoned jumper now would you? Work out what is business critical and what can be outsourced. Plan how you can keep things lean and watch your cash until you’ve got more proof points; test things out before you make major investments. We started our business by funding it ourselves and working with freelancers; it wasn’t until we had the proof points we needed before we took on external investment to try and scale the business more significantly.

Check that you have what it takes

Some people are comfortable with risk and like jumping out of planes or off cliffs; some would prefer to go for a nice walk in the country. It is not easy being an entrepreneur. It’s a lifestyle choice; it’s all encompassing. It will keep you awake at night; it will encroach on your family and social life at times. It will drain you of all the money and resources you have, at least for a while, and possibly permanently. And it is really likely that you will fail. But then again, you might succeed! You have to be comfortable with that.  

JUMP!

At some point you just have to take that leap. So buckle up, stop talking about it, and get on with it. Remember, you’ll never have all the answers before you get started, but at least try and recognize what you don’t know. Positive naivety is what’s needed, and a very big pair of balls. Good luck! If I’d known then what I know now about how difficult it is to build a luxury design-your-own shoe business, I probably would never have done it. But I’m glad I did.

And of course, a safe landing is only the start. Because you’re then going to ditch that parachute, and enter the war zone terrain of entrepreneur country. Are you ready?

This post was originally published in   Apex Women  

More posts
Share by: