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4 golden rules for pitching your business story

I’ve had my 19th cup of coffee. Don’t worry, I haven’t developed an extreme caffeine addiction. My new penchant for cappuccinos is part of the “100 coffees” rule that my friend Mick says I need to follow. You see, I’ve founded a tech startup, SocialCallout.com. And Mick says that all startup founders must have 100 cups of coffee. That means 100 opportunities to share your story. 

“The first 20 times you tell your story most people will ignore you,” he says. “By the time you’ve told your story 50 times, it’s much stronger. That’s because, by then, you’ve been faced with every objection you’ll come across and you’ll have worked out how to overcome those objections, either by refining your product or business idea, or by telling your story in a better way.”

Mick Liubinskas should know. He’s worked with over 200 start-ups with his incubator Pollenizer.com. And when he gave me this piece of advice, it made complete sense. Because, as founder of www.SydneyWritersCentre.com.au, I’m also passionate about storytelling.

It’s particularly important when you are pitching your business. If you’re in the process of “pitching”, then you’re typically trying to convince another party to either invest in you, do business with you or buy from you. In some cases, if you are a fledging start-up, you may even need to pitch to prospective employees to give up potentially lucrative careers to come and work for you.

So what are some golden rules?

1. Don’t let data and numbers dominate your story

Technology has given us the ability to collect data, crunch numbers and create an endless sea of pie charts at the click of a mouse. We can create reports or provide an Excel spreadsheets on just about any kind of statistic. While this kind of data is important, the reality is that it only tells half the story. Make sure you frame that data in the right story for it to be truly powerful.

2. Intrigue but don’t scare off

Your pitch story also needs to intrigue someone enough that they want to talk to you, but not be so wacky that it scares them off. As Mick says in my book Power Stories: The 8 Stories You MUST Tell to Build an Epic Business: “If someone tells me that they’re going to beat Facebook and make a billion dollars in the first 12 months, I stop listening. But the opposite is also true. If someone says they’re going to ‘try to crack the market’, then it’s too weak.

3. Tell your passion story

An integral part of your pitch story may also include your passion story. That is, the reason why you got into business in the first place. Many investors say that they not only invest in a business idea, they invest in a passionate entrepreneur who will do whatever it takes to make their business a success. Never forget to share your passion because this kind of enthusiasm is infectious, it’s palpable, and it could be the very intangible factor that will get you over the line. 

4. What do you do?

If you’re pitching an innovative idea, it can be difficult to explain what you do especially if there is no precedent. You don’t want to be explaining your business concept for half an hour while your listener’s eyes glaze over. You need a simple story that explains it all. Help people understand by providing a context they’ll relate to. For example, Rentoid.com is an online marketplace founded by Melbourne entrepreneur Steve Sammartino. He describes it succinctly as “eBay for renters”, so instead of buying and selling products online, it’s where people go to rent anything from handbags and sewing machines to cars and XBOXes. Simple story.

These aren’t the only stories you need in your business. You’ll find the eight stories that can help you grow your business, including templates to help you tell your own story, in the new book ‘Power Stories: The 8 Stories You MUST Tell to Build an Epic Business.’, by Valerie Khoo 

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Valerie Khoo

Valerie Khoo

Valerie Khoo is founder of <a href="http://www.SydneyWritersCentre.com.au">SydneyWritersCentre.com.au</a> and co-founder of <a href="http://www.SocialCallout.com">SocialCallout.com</a>. She is an adviser and investor in businesses and startups. Valerie is author of the new book Power Stories: The 8 Stories You MUST Tell to Build an Epic Business. <a href="http://www.PowerStoriesBook.com">www.PowerStoriesBook.com</a>

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