By acknowledging events leading up to this time of social distancing, you can appreciate the people around, interactions, and experiences gained. You were trusting during your first impression and following through on your face-to-face verbal commitments.

Weeks before the pandemic flat curve initiative, many of us were fearlessly under-influenced by the spreading virus. I had the experience of participating as a judge in two business pitch contests. 

The first contest was from a group of students who ran businesses at Clark University. The second pitch night was for EforAll, a non-profit company which administers small business resources through accelerator programs for woman, minority and other underserved members of the community.

There is tremendous value in these events for participants, and they serve a need amongst communities and customers alike. Business pitches from students to middle-aged moms, here are a few common themes that stand out for those businesses which pitched well.

  • Defining Your Target Market: “We are targeting everyone” Stop it! It’s challenging to please everyone, and once you set on that quest, you lose yourself and your brand. Additionally, your target market goes beyond demographics and geographic attributes. The best pitches will define the psychographics and everyday habits of the target, which they seek to serve.
  • Proof of Customer Needs: In one pitch, the bakery owner explained how the majority of her clients were women between a particular age. A certain percentage of women were repeating customers. And her male customers needed her services during holidays and birthdays for the women in their lives! This business owner had an excellent pitch because she already has customers paying for her products, and she was able to articulate the feedback loop as value.

  • Your Why & How: Any public speaking engagement or pitch needs to have emotion and passion. If you do not have a passion for what you are speaking on or pitching, then you need to reevaluate. Passion and excitement is not the only important factor. Emotions, in a compelling pitch, are counterbalanced with logic and simplicity. Entrepreneurship is complexed, and during a presentation, your job is to openly convey your story to the audience of prospecting customers or backers.

Can they scale the business, and what is the growth potential? Asking myself, this question because if you ask business owners directly, they will, of course, answer yes! Factors of scaling the business should be displayed in the pitch, while market growth potential is secondary data that anyone can research themselves. For example, I co-founded Major Bloom, and there is no question the demand for marijuana is increasing and will continue to rise. Proving scalability is proven by market growth or new offerings to the market.

Fundamentally, this pandemic pushes society to sharpen its pencil with real needs vs. the luxuries of what you want, and this is why some businesses are considered “essential” activities through it all while others can adapt and thrive during these times.