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10/2/06

PITCHING THE PLAN

by Marco Angioni II

So you have your business plan, now what?! Who do you pitch it to? What do you pitch? How do you contact the people who you want to pitch your plan? Although these questions can be answered in order, (investors; my business plan; and talk to them) preparation, planning, and persistence are key.

Your plan is complete, but is it really? I suggest you review and revise your plan at least one more time before the pitch. You must make sure that EVERYTHING is correct. Think about it from an investor’s point of view. Would you give your money to somebody who promises to take care of every detail, but at the same time misspells or misstates vital information in his/her business plan? Also, I strongly suggest you do a practice pitch. Pitch your plan to somebody you trust, but not to somebody that is going to give you a “sugar-coated” reaction. For example, you business family members, family members, and friends are out! Somebody that would be valuable to your cause could be a professor/teacher of yours, an “expert,” and/or a neutral third party that will give you honest advice.

Make sure you bring the whole package. When Chris Clifford (one of my business family members, and the author of the commercial real estate piece on this website) and I pitched our restaurant idea to the vice president of restaurant development for Station Casinos, we did not bring the whole package; therefore, even though he LOVED the idea, he could not accept it because pieces were missing. We had our business plan, but we did not create our management team or any visuals as to the restaurant layout. These overlooked items prevented a great idea from becoming a reality. Do not let this happen to you. If you’re pitching a restaurant concept, bring your plan, visuals, management team, and income source, if applicable. Always bring MORE to the table than the investor could possibly ask for. If he/she asks for a sample, show him/her three. If he/she asks for your management team’s credentials, show him/her your management team’s credentials, your credentials, and your operator’s credentials. The goal is to make the investor realize that because of your organization, drive, ambition, ideas, and credentials, investing in your idea is minimum risk and maximum return!

Although you may have compiled all this information, do not throw everything at your potential investor at once. Break your plan into parts. Give the potential investor each part as you pitch it. Do not overwhelm him/her. Remember, you are trying to get this person to give you his/her hard earned money, and their comfort in your idea and ability is key!

Last, but most importantly, how do you find investors to pitch your idea? The answer is simple, go out and look! Chris and I got our meeting by calling that guy’s secretary every day for two weeks. He finally said, “You have fifteen minutes to pitch your idea.” The meeting lasted one and a half hours. Be persistent. Find your investors. Ask yourself, “Who do I want to invest in this project?” Once you discover this answer, track him/her/it down and get your meeting. Use all your connections! Friends, family, business partners, business family members, colleagues, fellow students, teachers, professors, clergy members, and/or banks are all possible investors or can lead you to other possible investors. Remember, do NOT get discouraged and keep plugging away! You will find an investor, and once you do, the rest is up to you. If you believe in your idea and put sincere hard work into it, you will find investors!

Believe me when I say that although landing the deal feels great, there is no bigger adrenaline rush than the pitch! As Donald Trump once said, “Money was never a big motivation for me, except as a way to keep score. The real excitement is playing the game.”

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