Monthly Archives: March 2014

How to pitch like Richard Branson

Sir Richard Branson, number 19 in the 2013 Sunday Times Rich List, offers advice on pitching (Picture:PA)
It’s the dream of many: invent something; convince a multi-millionaire to invest; become rich and famous as a result.

But in reality, if Sir Richard Branson gave you five minutes of his time to make your business case – could you pitch to Rich?

Sir Richard already has a string on businesses under the Virgin mega-brand and a flamboyant personality to match. But part of keeping ahead of the game is constantly keeping an eye out for the ‘next big thing’.

‘One of the best things about hearing business pitches is that there is always a new idea and a new way of looking at things,’ Sir Richard told Metro.

He’s asked entrepreneurs across the UK to come up with new business ideas he can invest in. It’s been whittled down to the final four and tomorrow the burgeoning entrepreneurs will go head-to-head in front of a Dragon’s Den style panel for £5,000 worth of funding.

The finalists’ businesses cover confectionary, fuel injection systems, sustainable construction and fashion, but according to Sir Richard, a successful pitch has five things in common.

Sir Richard Branson told Metro his top five tips for a successful business pitch:

1. Explain how the new business will make a difference to customers and provide a compelling alternative to competitors. This means showing a new way of doing things to shake up the market, and explaining it in short, sharp, entertaining fashion.

Sir Richard Branson arrives on the Virgin Atlantic Little Red in Edinburgh
Big personality: Sir Richard Branson not afraid to bare all for publicity for Virgin Atlantic Little Red
2. It has to be grounded in expert knowledge of the industry. If you are going to launch anything – a new social network, a new bank, a new fashion line – you need to demonstrate a solid understanding of the market and how you can disrupt it.

3. Have a realistic plan. While high concepts are fine, pitches need to illustrate how a company could work practically. This means legal, financial and operational plans. It’s tough to include details in a short presentation, but the most engaging pitches manage to combine passion with pragmatism.

4. Be in it for the long haul. Nothing stays the same, and business changes faster than most things. Pitches latching on to the flavour of the month are all well and good, but they need to communicate how the business could grow sustainably and develop in the future.

5. Show your strongest hand. Pitching is all about selling your idea and your business as an exciting place to be. Highlight the strengths – especially the talented people who are working on the project – and don’t be afraid to talk up your prospects.

Richard Branson

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