This week I had the fun task of helping an aspiring entrepreneur fine-tune her pitch deck for a small business contest. She decided to take her business idea to a pitch contest to win seed money. The contest has three qualifying rounds where applicants get eliminated and the contest ends up with 4 finalists.
The pitch contest is designed to use the judges’ time efficiently. The judges don’t have the luxury of reading volumes of business plans or the time to sit through 30 PowerPoint slides from 50+ applicants. So, the initial round allows all the applicants to submit a pitch deck that can only be 7 slides in total (not counting the cover page).
While this is a very convenient and efficient way for judges to eliminate a mile-high stack of applications, it’s even better for the applicants. It FORCES them to quickly and succinctly get to the meat of their business ideas. In seven easy slides each team must:
1. Identify the problem they are solving
2. Explain how their proposed product/solution will solve that problem
3. Provide proof of the market opportunity
4. Demonstrate how their solution will actually make money
5. Explain how the business will operate
6. Tell the judges who they are and why they are worthy of investment
7. Give a timeline for implementation
Easy peasy, right? Each slide is representative of a critical point in a business’s success. I encourage you to sketch out your own 7 slide pitch deck to answer each of these areas. Here’s an important hint: if you aren’t perfectly crystal clear on #1 and #2, you need to go back to the drawing board. Don’t even waste your time with the remaining 5 slides. When you nail down the first two, only then will you be ready to address the remaining 5 areas. If you’re still having trouble, please reach out to me, and let’s get your idea clarified.
Jodi Henson is a business consultant and an entrepreneur. She works with prospective and existing small business owners to help them overcome challenges and attain their goals. Jodi lives in NE Florida with her husband. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.