Pitching has become a mainstay in business, entrepreneurship, and startups. Why is pitching such a big deal now to the point where even Business schools start to focus more on your pitch than actually building the business? The net result being a deluge of business plans, elevator pitch books, and a whole industry around “The Pitch” that has sparked TV shows, self-proclaimed angel investors, and just about anybody with money who has watched one too many episodes of Shark Tank.
Shows like Shark Tank has created a false ideal around the pitch is a major business milestone. Here’s some news….pitching can actually be bad for your startup. The irony of the pitch is that every business plan makes money! However, planning and execution are two very different things. When you’re focused on the pitch, you spend more time creating PowerPoints, executive summaries, crafting the perfect narrative for each audience…..and many months doing this dance that never gets you the prize. Unbeknownst to you, the prize had been in front of you all along. If you invested that time building your product and company, you would have accomplished more than the time wasted courting investors marginally interested at best.
What most people see on TV shows like Shark Tank hides a fundamental fact in what you don’t see. Those companies are very carefully, and methodically selected first based on what makes for great television. Everything else comes afterward. If pitching shows were based on pure meritocracy, they would have no audience….it will be another boring TV show. Most people attend pitching events for networking, not for the companies.
Raising money shouldn’t be the end goal. Building a scalable, sustainable, marketable business should be the goal. This requires resourcefulness, ingenuity, and yes….preparing to tackle one disaster after another. Entrepreneurship is like jumping off a cliff while trying to assemble the parachute. The more time spent assembling that parachute, the better your chances of a survivable landing.
Take this simple advice. Stop pitching [and making .ppt files] your idea at competitions seeking validation and or money. The best way to use your time is to either:
- Talk to people who you want to sell to and convince them to buy from you
- Build something
- Write stories about what you built, how you built it and why we should care
Investment can make the journey somewhat better. However, when the market validates you, investors become an afterthought…..they will chase you because you don’t necessarily need them.
So ditch the pitching events (they are always overrated anyway), go out, build something, sell it, write about it, repeat!