Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 2nd 2015 Contents He knew that people frequently gave me
their "elevator pitch" and thought it would
be more efficient and fun to be in an actual
elevator. While the idea wasn t ultimately
viable, it made me smile. I m sure he has
gone on to great things.
Of course, facts and figures are important.
If you have data that supports your potential
business, that s great. But remember not to
drown people in numbers (my eyes tend to
glaze over as soon as too many stats are
rolled out during a pitch). If you don t have
any supporting data available for your idea,
you have to sell people on your vision and
Tell them exactly why you want this busi-
ness to succeed. Explain the problem that
you want to solve with your product or
service, and why you believe it needs solving
- even if other people haven t realised that
yet. And be sure to cite real-life stories that
reinforce your points and make your idea
more relatable and personable.
Keep in mind that people want to invest
in people. So talk about your previous suc-
cesses. For instance, if you have succeeded
in a business once before, people will believe
that you can do it again. If not, highlight
your skills and connections: What abilities
of yours will help make this business a real-
ity? What deals or partnerships have you
put in place to help execute your vision?
You must also make sure that you get out
there and are visible. You are, after all, your
company s greatest asset. I have always been
right at the heart of promoting Virgin s new
ventures and our expansion into new ter-
ritories because potential investors and cus-
tomers will remember a business or brand
if they can associate it with a face.
However, don t make the mistake of trying
to do everything yourself. If you want to go
fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go
Entrepreneurial support is plentiful these
days, and there are many people and organ-
isations out there that can help you for free.
For instance, organisations like Virgin Start-
Up in the UK offer free mentoring sessions
for entrepreneurs, and Virgin Media s "Pitch
to Rich" competition offers new entrepre-
neurs a chance to win funding to get them
started, plus mentoring sessions with me
and experts within the Virgin Group.
Go online and look for entrepreneurial
support groups in your area, and get these
experts to assist you in refining your pitch
or business model. Ask them for helpful
connections in their networks. If you have
external supporters on your side, you are
more likely to convince others that your
business idea is an opportunity they
shouldn t miss.
Building a business from scratch is tough,
especially when you are selling a concept
that nobody has come up with before.
But remember: many people thought Albert
Einstein and Isaac Newton had crazy ideas
in their time. But it is passionate and tena-
cious thinkers like them who tend to change
the world for the better.
Don t give up on your vision, and you
will get your break.
(Richard Branson is the founder of the
Virgin Group and companies such as
Virgin Atlantic, Virgin America, Virgin
Mobile and Virgin Active. He maintains
a blog at www.virgin.com/richard-bran-
son/blog. You can follow him on Twitter
at twitter.com/richardbranson. To learn
more about the Virgin Group:
(Questions from readers will be
answered in future columns. Please send
them to RichardBranson@nytimes.com.
Please include your name, country, e-mail
address and the name of the website or
publication where you read the column.)
When you are sure of your concept for a busi-
ness---but waiting for the world to catch up---
how do you sell an idea based on passion rather
than on numbers?
Selling an idea isn t easy. I remem-
ber standing in a telephone box
early in my career, trying to get
potential advertisers to buy space
in a magazine that didn t yet
exist, so I know all too well how
frustrating it can be when people
won t give you a chance. How-
ever, I deeply believed in my idea and I learned then
that having confidence in yourself breeds confidence
I wouldn t worry if your idea hasn t caught on
with others yet. It could mean you ve spotted an
opportunity before anybody else has. All you need
to do now is make your first sale, and the rest will
follow. The key to making that first sale, though,
starts with perfecting your business pitch.
A great pitch can do many things. It can convince
potential investors and clients that you are worth
taking a chance on. It can also help you recruit top
talent that can help your business expand. These are
essential ingredients for a successful venture.
The first step toward delivering a great pitch is to
keep it human, since far too many presentations and
speeches can turn artificial and wooden quite quickly.
Let your passion shine through by being yourself and
allowing your points to come across naturally. Use
humor to connect with your audience and demonstrate
One of the best pitches I ever received was from
a man who owned an elevator installation business.
APRIL 2015 • WEEK ONE www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COMMENTARY | BG15
Passion can sell an idea
The Perfect Pitch
In order to convince potential in-
vestors and clients that you are
worth taking a chance on, you have
to effectively convey your passion
for your idea. Here's a few things to
keep in mind when making your
1. Keep it human: Let your passion
shine through naturally. Make sure
your presentation is not too stiff,
and use humor if you can.
2. Tackle the issue: Explain the
problem that your product or service
would solve, and why you believe it
3. Tell stories: Be sure to cite real-
life stories that reinforce your points
and make your idea more relatable
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