When it comes to the technical details of the pitch, they don’t miss a beat. But I’ve noticed many have difficulty articulating the sweeping, long-term vision for their companies.
I can relate because I struggled with the same thing when I was in their position. It’s a very common issue, especially with female founders. I’ve found women tend to be more realistic in their estimations, or they feel it’s too early to be talking about what long-term success looks like.
It took me years to get over those hang-ups and to speak fluently about the future of my business, but it’s such an important skill for talking with investors or trying to hire talented individuals.
I always try to coach women entrepreneurs on how to express their vision, so I want to share what that looks like.
In the early stages, you have to be able to articulate the long-term, high-level vision.
You can tell when an entrepreneur doesn’t quite understand the future of their company because there are gaps in the pitch deck.
The first few slides will be much too focused on what’s happening right now–on the tactical applications. That’s a problem because the beginning of the pitch deck should be three to five slides of the enormous market opportunity that you’re ready to revolutionize.
It should name three high-level things you’re going to do in order to achieve that massive goal and how you’re going to eventually change the world. After painting that picture, you can get down into the nitty-gritty and tell investors about the tactical execution.
At the seed stage, investors are really evaluating both your vision and you as a founder. They’re wondering if you’ll be able to attract talent, to handle the ups and downs of an early-stage company.
You want to sell them on the idea first, then show them you understand the realities of getting there.
Selling your vision becomes easier when you stop focusing on day-to-day goals.
As a young startup, you need funding and you need great team members who are inspired to work with you. The only way you get both of those things is by learning to convey your master plan in a clear and compelling manner.
A lot of founders make the mistake of talking about what they’re doing right now or what they’ll be doing next year. But what you’re really selling is where you’re going to be in five years.
I know it’s difficult to stop concentrating on the day-to-day aspects of your business. Still, whether you’re talking to investors or trying to inspire your team, you have to stop thinking about what’s happening today. You have to shift your mindset and start explaining what it will look like when you’re taking over the world.
It feels like such a leap from where you are now, to where you’re telling people you’ll be. And you’ll probably start to feel the imposter syndrome creep in as you rehearse your vision.
But here’s the thing: whatever that vision is, it’s not too big.
This is supposed to be your pie-in-the-sky, difficult to achieve statement of where you’re going. You’re not exaggerating or boasting, you’re simply telling people what’s going to happen if you execute on your plan.
When you realize that, you can reframe the conversation in your mind. It’s not that you’re being inauthentic, it’s your way of sharing the grand vision with people so they’ll be willing to help you achieve it.
Once you understand your vision, explaining it becomes second nature.
Obviously, as a female founder, you have to to be confident. But knowing and selling your vision requires another level of confidence.
I know entrepreneurs may not be comfortable with the idea of the grandiose vision. Trust me, I felt the same way five or six years ago. We had no brand name, no manufacturing partner, no product. And yet we had to articulate that vision of revolutionizing the lingerie industry and taking down Victoria’s Secret.
The only way to gain that extra level of confidence is through practice. Articulate your vision over and over again to friends, family, advisors, your own reflection in the mirror. Just make it a part of your story and get comfortable talking about it.
Over time it will become second nature, and you won’t hesitate when you tell someone which industry giant you’ll soon be toppling.