When I lived in Michigan, AM 760 WJR aired a syndicated program in the evenings centered around start-up business and entrepreneurship. As I type this, I am remembering it was called “Startup Nation.” Of course, this was at the end of the dot.com craze when anyone and everyone was thinking about the next business idea that was going to net them their millions. I remember very little about the show, but there was one segment that was particularly interesting. The hosts would draw a name out of a hat and the person picked was invited to give their “elevator pitch” to a fictional investor on the ride from the ground floor lobby up to the executive penthouse. You had 60 seconds to clearly and succinctly address the following points;
1. What’s the idea?
2. What’s the status of the idea or business?
3. What market or markets does the business address and are there any testimonials or customer feedback?
4. Why do you believe you have the advantage in the marketplace relative to the market needs?
5. What’s the competition in the marketplace?
6. What’s the revenue model (such as “e-commerce,” or “wholesale”)?
7. Who’s the team that’s going to make the business succeed?
8. What’s the longer term vision, the “end-game,” for the business and the projected return on investment for investors? (some examples are: “the business will distribute big profits to investors from cash flow by year X”, or “the business will be acquired by another company for $XYZ”)
9. What’s the total funding required to execute the business plan?
10. What amount of financing are you seeking initially and what are the terms of investment?
At the end of the 60 second “ride”, the hosts would critique the contestant on their pitch. Some were great, and others clearly needed work.
Nearly anyone coming out of school is well prepared for landing that first job. Architecture students are given classes in preparing a portfolio, and many scholarships are awarded based on the content. If you decide to voluntarily leave a company, you have either been recruited for another company, or you have researched an opening and have prepared yourself for the interview. In either case, either your work or reputation have spoken for themselves, or you have strategically and methodically put together samples of your best stuff to support your bid for the position. However, almost no one is well prepared for landing the next job after they are unexpectedly let go.
The point here is not to be continually prepared for Armageddon, but to know in the back of your mind that if you find yourself unemployed tomorrow, you have your best stuff already prepared for the job search. For those of us that are employed, this means asking your employers for the use of materials that demonstrate your skills and the value that you have brought to the organization. For those of you that are out of work, contact former employers and ask for the use of that material. Have business cards with your personal information on them (on nice paper, of course) ready to hand out to anyone that might have a connection. Make sure that the message on your cell voicemail (which was on that business card, right?) is professional in nature. You never know, that person standing next to you waiting for the train might offer you your your next job.
So I ask you: “What is your elevator pitch?” And your 60 seconds begin now.