Are you an entrepreneur who needs to develop a presentation to get a loan or attract investors?
You only get one chance to make a great first impression. Get your presentation wrong, and prospective lenders and investors will lose confidence in your ability to run a business and earn enough revenue to pay a loan back or provide dependable returns on their investment.
This guide explains what a perfect pitch deck is and what you should include to build investor or lender confidence in your company, whether it’s a startup or one you want to grow.
Set goals for your business presentation
The common mistake many entrepreneurs make when writing a lender or investor pitch deck is that they feel they must sell their ideas and raise the capital necessary to start or expand a business immediately. Immediacy isn’t how things work when it comes to financing a company. Unlike the TV series Shark Tank, funding decisions don’t happen during a single encounter.
The actual goal of the presentation is to generate interest in your proposal. Typically, the first meeting with investors or lenders is for them to learn about your operation, the financing you need, and how it could benefit them.
What’s important is that they come away with enough interest in your proposal that they will want to know more. Your goal when developing a presentation is to generate enough curiosity to get to the second meeting or next step in the loan approval process. As you move forward, you’ll have opportunities to go into greater detail.
This type of presentation is commonly called a pitch deck. A pitch deck is a brief PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation that will help you convey pertinent information in a reasonable amount of time.
How to prepare a pitch deck
Here are some proven things you can do to optimize your loan or financing presentation.
Tell a story
Most people don’t remember facts and figures. However, they retain stories they relate to. Remember, the first meeting with lenders or investors is to generate enough interest in your company to continue the conversation later, where you can share more detailed information.
Whenever possible, tell stories about real customers engaging with your business. Explain their challenges and how your product or service resolves them.
Also, tell stories about yourself. It will humanize you and transform you into more than a talking head. Investors and lenders invest in people more than their ideas. Tell them why you’re passionate about what you do. Discuss the talent on your team. Tell why you and the people you work with are uniquely positioned to achieve the success it takes to repay their loan or provide a meaningful return on their investment.
Keep things simple
Don’t get too deep into the weeds. With this type of presentation, less is more. Lenders and investors don’t need to know everything about your business. Your slides should only highlight the key things your audience needs to know.
Never use technical jargon, acronyms, and buzzwords. Most people don’t understand them, which will make them tune out.
Your slides must be simple, professional, attractive, and easy to understand. They should only convey necessary information. Leave space and time for investors and lenders to ask questions.
Tips: The last thing you want anyone to do is to read your slides. Your slides and talking points should be two different things. Keep slides simple and light on text. Never speak too quickly. People won’t understand what you’re saying. Typically, if you have an hour meeting, plan for a half-hour presentation and a half-hour for questions. Time yourself while practicing before the meeting. Thirty minutes pass fast.
Make realistic financial projections
Most businesses, depending on the goods or services they sell, can generate a profit of between six and nine percent of sales. Operating profit margins above 12 percent are rare. Overly optimistic projections harm your credibility. If investors and lenders are doubtful, it’s unlikely they’ll consider doing business with you.
When discussing sales growth, start with the number of units sold per month. Then discuss unit increases per month and conversion rates. Once you do that, you have a solid foundation for discussing profitability.
Be ready to support your slides
Of course, you never want to pack your slides with too much information. Leverage simple communication elements like images, charts, and bullet points. However, you must be able to support what you say if you’re asked questions about it. Always have support materials at the ready to back your claims.
You will likely need a complete business plan [https://www.biz2credit.com/blog/how-to-write-a-business-plan-to-get-a-business-loan/] that includes this backup data before presenting. You want them to ask for your investment plan or, at the very least, the executive summary of your business plan. If they do, your presentation was a success!
What to include in a pitch deck
There are many pitch deck templates [https://pitch.com/templates/collections/Pitch-deck] available online. While all businesses are different, most templates include the following elements:
On the opening slide, include your company name and logo along with a one-sentence description of your company, something along the line of your elevator pitch. If you have a marketing tagline, include it on this slide.
Explain the issue
If your business does not solve a recognized problem, you shouldn’t ask for money to fund it. A company that doesn’t solve a common issue will probably find it challenging to be successful.
Briefly describe the problem your product or service solves. Tell the story through the eyes of the consumer who has the problem. Now is a great time to begin telling the story of your business and why you need funding. Don’t document the whole story on the slide. Instead, include a picture reflective of the consumer experiencing the issue and your company resolving it. In this case, an image is worth 1,000 words if it keeps people’s attention on you rather than words on a slide.
Describe your target market
Continue the story by describing the customers you’re targeting, the approximate market size, and the total revenue you could earn from them. Answer the questions:
- Who is your ideal customer, and what problems do you help them solve
- How many people have the problem?
- How much do they currently spend to solve the problem?
Answering these questions will help investors and lenders understand if you are presenting them with a viable market opportunity.
Describe your solution to the problem
Explain your unique approach to solving your customer’s problems, often referred to as your unique selling or value proposition. Make your business idea memorable and find ways to get the people you’re meeting with to ask for more. Keep it concise. Never use buzzwords or acronyms. Continue your customer-centric storytelling in this section.
Outline your business revenue model
This is one of the essential sections of a pitch deck. Of course, you need to show investors and lenders how you will earn money. It helps explain how they will get their cash back in a reasonable period or make a decent return on their investment.
Be as precise, accurate, and transparent as you can. Leverage charts and graphs if they’re easier to understand. Explain your pricing policies and compare them with other companies in your sector. Tell them whether you plan to compete on quality or price.
Lay out early accomplishments and next steps
Explain what your business has accomplished to date. Document early sales results, key hires, and anything significant you’ve done. Also, lay out the next milestones you will meet after receiving funding. Finally, document your goals for the future.
Outline your marketing plan
Your customer acquisition plan is another critical part of your presentation for venture capitalists, angel investors, and lenders. Explain how you plan to get your products or services in front of prospective customers (whether through social media, advertising, public relations, or other means) and how you will sell to them. Make it clear that you have a solid knowledge of your target audience, know how to reach them, and understand how to sell to them. Highlight how your approach to marketing and sales is different — and better — than your competitors.
Highlight your management team
Reveal the key members of your team. Provide a short description of their skill sets and career accomplishments. Also, explain the positions that still need to be filled and how you plan to hire people for them, whether it’s through LinkedIn, a headhunter, or another resource. Demonstrate to investors and lenders that you’re on top of things. This section is critical for tech startups which are typically dependent on top talent for their success.
Document your financial projections
Summarize your sales forecasts, profit and loss and cash flow projections, and other financial metrics for three to five years. Summarize your information, don’t present a complete financial model. Provide more detailed information in later meetings. Be prepared to support your numbers if you’re questioned about them.
Explain your competitive advantage
Document your primary competitors, including how your solutions and business model compare with theirs. Highlight how your company’s approach to marketing and selling is different from others in your competitive landscape. Answer the question: How is your unique approach superior to the competition, and why will the market prefer your way of doing business?
Describe the funding you need
Explain how much money you require and what you are fundraising for, whether it’s to start a company, purchase real estate for expansion, launch a new offering, or other things. Include information about how much money has already been invested in your business and its current ownership structure, whether it’s a partnership, single owner, or another form. Explain how the funding will help grow your business. Include a roadmap to the future you imagine. The explanation will help investors and lenders feel more confident about funding your operation.
Explain what investors and lenders will get from backing your business
Whether you are talking to investors or lenders, tell them how long it’s going to take for them to get their money back and the kind of return they can expect for providing you with the funding.
Remember to thank them and provide contact information
Your final slide should thank the people you’re meeting with for their time and consideration. Provide clear contact information so they can reach you if they have questions after the meeting or want to continue to discuss lending to — or investing money in — your business.
Pitch deck presentations: The final word
Remember: The primary goal of a lender or investor presentation isn’t to tell a complete story. It’s to get people interested in what you want to use their money for in the early stage of the funding process.
Here are some other things to consider:
- Practice your presentation several times before presenting to investors or lenders. Ensure you come across as relaxed, confident, professional, knowledgeable, and as someone that they can trust.
- Bring printed copies of your presentation to the meeting so people can write down questions and recall what you said later on.
- After potential investors and lenders ask their questions, make it a point to summarize your presentation in a minute or two. It will ensure they’re left with the message you want them to remember.
Finally, ensure you have the information handy that backs up anything you say during your presentation. Following all the advice in this guide will make you more likely to convince investors or lenders to give you the funding you need.