Have you ever had to present a new business solution that you thought your company should invest in? Maybe you have desired to start your own business, or you are in sales "pitching" your products to customers. Whether you work for a Fortune 500 company or out of your basement, one thing is for sure, you are asking for people to invest in you.
This week’s podcast is with Sean Wise, online host of CBC’s hit show "Dragons’ Den". On this business reality show, you get the opportunity to pitch your business idea to a panel of five multi-millionaires known as Dragons. If the Dragons like your idea, they will invest in your company; if they don’t invest, you’re voted off the island. Sean is also a leading Venture Capitalist who has helped his clients raise over $2.1 billion dollars to bring their products and services to the global market.
Sean has had a very interesting career journey so far. By the ripe old age of 35 he had started 6 businesses, his first business as a clown at the age of 13. "I was dissatisfied with the management at McDonalds, so my parents suggested that if I disliked my role I should figure out a way to do better for myself." Earning $50 per hour as a 13 year old is not a bad way to spend your weekend and it sure beats flipping burgers. No laughing matter (pun intended), over the next 6 years, Sean spent time as a clown to fund his university education, learning how to build a business from scratch. From early on he learned how to sell, negotiate, deal with customers and deliver value for money. He went to Carleton University for Engineering but discovered his true passion was business, graduating with a B.A. in Economics. During university, he launched a couple of other businesses doing safety training for companies and running frosh parties. He was accepted at the University of Ottawa’s joint MBA/LLB program and upon graduation joined Ernst & Young’s Venture Capital group. Sean then went on to launch his own V.C. firm working with emerging companies helping them to raise capital and mentoring their leadership teams. He has recently started a new collaborative venture fund, partnering with Spencer Trask out of New York City. This was the firm that originally funded Thomas Edison for his little idea – the light bulb.
As an entrepreneur, Venture Capitalist and online Dragons’ Den host, Sean knows what it takes to get people to vote with their wallets and invest in great ideas. In our conversation, he shared the 5 key ways to get people to invest in you and your ideas.
The Power of Your Passion – How much do you believe in the idea? Your confidence about the idea is the foundation for pitching your idea.
Research, Research, Research – What problem will this idea solve? Why would people buy it? Who are the competitors? How will you make money? Knowing the answers to these questions is the key to getting people to invest.
Take Your Idea For a Walk – Nothing is more powerful than getting perspectives from a wide spectrum of people. The more people you approach, the more opportunity to get accurate feedback and to fine tune the idea.
Two thumbs up – This is the Roger Ebert principle. Who do you know who has clout and will give you a strong endorsement with your idea? We have been well trained to take action based upon third-party endorsements!
Less is more – When presenting your idea to decision makers, simplify the explanation. See if you can present your idea’s concept in one PowerPoint slide.
As Sean says, "Companies invest in you and your idea, but ultimately they are taking the chance with you."
You may be asking, "What if I try and fail?" Sean says, "There are not any losers, the only failure is the failure to try."
Speaking of investing in you, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, a full 96 per cent of HR professionals agree that hiring a career coach delivers tangible benefits to individuals and organizations alike. So whether you need help drafting a professional resume, securing a promotion, switching jobs or any other career-related move, we are here to help. Join our free workshop, or book an initial consultation with myself. Take control over your career today!
Along the road with you
This week’s 10 Minute WORKout
Think about why someone would invest in your idea. What suggestions can you come up with to improve your presentation?