“What does your business do?” It is a question that strikes fear into the hearts of most entrepreneurs.
Whether it is a social or business environment, you immediately begin to evaluate your interrogator … “What are they after?” “Are they a potential customer?” “How much time do we have?”
Your response can be the difference between a lasting and profitable business alliance; or the shortest conversation since you said “yes, they do make you look a bit fat …”
I am always incredulous that a significant number of entrepreneurs have difficulty in defining exactly what their business does; but in today’s time-starved world it is vital that you can succinctly summarize your offering.
This brief description of your business is known as the “elevator pitch.” It is a very condensed version of your entire business model — can you get your message across in 60 seconds? 30? One sentence?
I personally believe that you need just one sentence to get your point across. If you have time to embellish a little more, great, but don’t bank on it! Always try and get the following across:
- Explanation of your business
- Benefit of your business
- What makes your business unique
Try and engage with the potential clients, ask a question that can’t be answered with a yes/no.
You are waiting for the elevator in the lobby of a hotel; all of a sudden The Dragons Den stars are standing behind you, it is an opportunity not to be missed, what do you say?
You pique their interest with an amusing pun about how the wait for the elevator is starting to “drag on.” It arrives and they follow you in; The Dragons are going to the fifth floor and they ask you what your business does… The doors close and you have your captive audience for 40 seconds! (Average time between floors is 10 seconds).
- Floor 1 (Explanation): “Thank you for asking! SME Solutions is a one-stop shop for small businesses; providing professional services such as accounting, marketing and strategic planning.”
- Floor 2 (Benefit): “This means small businesses can have affordable access to proven specialist knowledge without having to spend valuable time finding each individual.”
- Floor 3 (Unique Feature): “Unlike other agencies, every client has a project manager who ensures projects are kept on track and that all specialists are working together towards a common goal.”
- Floor 4 (Engagement): “How does your business manage your professional services?”
- Floor 5 (Follow-up): “It was nice to meet you too, here is my business card if you need any more information. Do you have a business card to hand?”
Suddenly, you have clawed your way into doing business with a Dragon!
I apologize for the shameless plug of my own business in this article, but it fits well with the scenario!
Liam has been an entrepreneur and business consultant since he started his first e-commerce business in Spain in 2001. Since then, he has worked around the globe in various markets.