Earlier this year, the Connexus team visited a small town in South Australia. Located 42 kilometres north of Adelaide, Gawler is known as South Australia’s most significant historic town. This heritage town has a population of over 20,000 with more than 500 active small businesses.
Their central hub, the Civic Centre, is the hallmark of the town and is the home of their newly launched Business Innovation Hub.
The Business Innovation Hub was launched with a Shark Tank event in April. Connexus General Manager, Lee Atkinson, was invited to the event as a ‘shark’ along with Megan Llewellyn from ThincLab and Josh Helbig, owner of Kodotech.
The pitch day was filled with small business owners and investors from various regions of South Australia, with a total of three pitches being delivered on the night.
The lessons from this event are applicable to any small business trying to get in front of investors. Lee's 'top tips' are:
Understand why you’re pitching
Lee’s general advice for all small businesses was for them to understand and articulate why they want investment and what they will do with the money. Not defining a clear purpose and not telling the investor what’s in it for them means they’ll probably be left feeling confused and frustrated.
Scope out your options
What stood out to Lee was that the businesses were not aware of the multiple avenues through which funds can be raised. Venture capital backing sounds cool, but it’s rarely the right option for a typical SME. Identifying the investment approach best suited to your business means you’re more likely to get that money to take your company to the next level.
Get to the point
The purpose of a pitch is to be short, snappy and effective. You’re not there to tell the entire life story of your business – highlight the achievements, talk about what the future holds and make your case to investors.
What makes you different?
There are over 2 million small businesses in Australia alone, so one of the most important things to figure out is what makes you different. Who are your competitors? What are you doing that they aren’t? What value are you providing to the market? You’re going to be asked all these questions and more by investors, so spend some time thinking about your unique selling point before pitching your business.
Pitching can be one of the scariest things to do as a business owner, but it’s also one of the most important skills to master when trying to secure funds that allow you to grow. Nobody is ever going to have the perfect pitch, but the more you do it, the better you’ll become, so get practising!
If you’ve pitched before, what are some pieces of advice that have worked for you?