I'm relatively new to this entrepreneurship thing. There is obviously much to learn- However, I thought I would share with you some things that I learned so far while looking for Co-Founders and people to work with me on EntMe.
This week, I'm going to focus on selling yourself to potential investors and co-founders.
So, lesson one: Pitch Yourself, then Pitch your Product. At this point, you're either nodding your head or scoffing at my stupidity. For the former, you can stop reading. You "Get It". For the latter, let me elaborate.
Read: It doesn't matter if you have the greatest idea in the world if you can't prove to an investor, cofounder, or team member that you are a Rockstar. As any seasoned entrepreneur would tell you, ideas count for a lot, but they are cheap. What really counts is your ability to execute on your idea, and transform it from ideation to product. If investors don't believe in you, they won't believe in what you have to say, no matter how sweet it sounds. Make them believe in you, and they will be much more likely to buy into your idea.
This isn't to say that you should spend 10 minutes in your pitch describing your personal life story- no, that's not really the right time to do that. But you should be pitching yourself at every meetup and gathering outside. By demonstrating your worth and value to the people you encounter in social situations, your ideas gain more merit, by proxy.
So how do you pitch yourself? I've tried to distill some of the things I've learned into this list:
1. Be Yourself
Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation. ~Oscar Wilde, De Profundis, 1905
As with all sales pitches you have to know your product. That's why you should be yourself. Not to say that you should hide in the corner or punch a wall or something. Though, that would be HILARIOUS to see. The goal here is to exemplify your best qualities and be fearless in showing it. Most people are quite observant, and can see right through your fake persona. As soon as they see a hole in your facade it's over. You'll have a hard time getting anyone to believe in you after that, and word of mouth travels quickly in the startup world.
Instead of trying to be someone you're not, pitch your best qualities and be confident in them.
PS. this is not to say that you should just accept your circumstances. For example, if you are a bad public speaker, don't accept that as part of your persona, just start changing it until it is. Until then though, don't go around comparing your oratory skills to Winston Churchill.
2. Short and Sweet
I'm Yosemite Sam, the meanest, roughest, rip-roarn'est, Edward Everett Hortonest, hombre that ever packed a six-shooter! - Yosemite Sam
This lesson is thanks to Trucy Phan, who I meant at a Hackers and Founders meetup this past week. She gave me some timely advice on how to describe yourself and package yourself to people interested in you.
We can learn from this Looney Toons character. Often when at meetups people will ask me- "So, what do you do?"
I used to tell them: "Well I studied computer science and economics in college. I'm proficient at coding, but really what I'm good at..Well I mean..not to be cocky, but what I think I'm good at..basically.." And so on and so forth.
Now I tell them- I'm Andy, I innovate, design, code, and bring people to their fullest potential. Simple right? When people ask you the "What do you do" question, 9 times out of 10, they are being polite. You just lost the 10th person if you rambled like I used to. No. No. No. Instead, focus on short and sweet. If they really are interested, they will ask you.
3. Don't wait to start meeting people
The early bird get's the worm - old proverb
This one is obvious, but don't ever wait to begin meeting and refining your social skills. It doesn't matter if you are a CEO or a CTO, in order to get anywhere in life you need to be proactive in your endeavors. Go out and meet people, even if you aren't the best speaker. I personally learned this lesson only recently. Practice makes perfect. Hone your pitching and socializing skills to perfection. if you wait until you really need to "network" then you will miss out on all the practice you could have obtained. Guess what that means? You'll be less impressive to that person you so desperately need when you do finally go out and look for them.
Agree? Disagree? Comment below! I'll be blogging every friday so let me know what you want me to focus on next time, thanks!