Startups, I Am Sad To Announce…

Indeed, my startup friends– I need to break this to you gently. That idea you think is a sure-fire win that no investor in his or her right mind would pass up, I regret to inform you, is much more interesting to you than perhaps anyone else, and I repeat anyone else, on the planet.

We become doggedly committed to our new technology or venture, enough to willingly live a frugal and single-focused life during its infancy, ignoring friends and spouses, and investing every waking hour (and our own bank accounts) in hopes of making our ideas a go. We see a gilded future, a pathway to riches, unprecedented sales, IPOs, buyouts, private jets, and the kind of wealth where others with far-lesser ideas in days ahead will come to us for funding.

There is a thin line between confidence and out-and-out delusion, yet envisioning success, whether delusional or not, is actually an valuable attribute. It will help you endure the often discouraging world of capital-begging and fuel the way you think, what you say, and you how you say it. Entrepreneurs lacking this passion will likely fail.

A lot of those mired in the startup mode think all they need to give investors is detailed information, spreadsheets, projections, technical specifications, factual comparisons and quantitative hoo-ha. While this is ultimately necessary for funding, a startup will probably go nowhere unless its spokespeople can instill a little of their passion.

So the presentation, my friends, is not just about what you want investors to think, but what you must get them to feel.

So how do you help ignite passion?

  1. Remember the things that kindled enthusiasm in you.
    Chances are, your excitement was born of a very basic vision, an idea. Once that enthusiasm was kindled, you were able to refine it, improve it, and create a much more intricate tactical plan to move it from notion to reality. Too often, we focus our discussion on those later details and operations, failing to share the vision that got us excited in the first place---perhaps the very thing that might get investors excited as well.

  2. Know your audience.
    Learn about what lights their emotional fuse. Use that knowledge as you craft your message. Sometimes small tweaks that acknowledge what is important to the audience can make dramatic changes in how your audience sees you and your ideas.

  3. Make it interactive.
    An audience is more attentive when it is active and not just a passive receptacle for your message. Get them involved. Let them talk. By listening to questions you get them to ask you, they are telling you what it might take to convince them.

  4. Help them see themselves in your story.
    Those presenting too often mistakenly think the focus of the story is them, their technology, and their business structure. You must help the audience see themselves as part of the story¬–why them and what's-in-it-for-them.

  5. Most important–Let your enthusiasm exude.
    Show them what made you excited in the first place. Passion is contagious. You must convey enthusiasm and confidence, without seeming arrogant or naively unrealistic. If you do not seem to be enthused about your idea and the likelihood of success, your audience never will.

Research has shown us that decisions are made in the emotional recesses of the brain, and all the compelling facts and figures we feed to the rational side don't mean much until the side controlling passion says "OK."

While your audience may never become as obsessively wacko-crazy about your idea as you are, you may make them just excited enough to part with some money in the hopes of making them, and you in the process, more successful.

© Copyright 2015. Chuck Goldstone. All Rights Reserved

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