When you’re a small fish in the big, scary business sea, it can be a real challenge to be taken seriously. Why should the sharks pay attention to Nemo? You’re barely even an appetizer for them at this stage. It can often feel like a tough gig. It can feel impossible to get anywhere if those at the top don’t notice you. But, you’re singing, shouting and waving your hands in front of their faces and still, they haven’t spotted you.
In truth, you may fall under the radar of more prominent businesses before one spots potential in what you’re doing. That’s just the way business works. If that weren’t the case, every terrible startup idea under the sun would have graced our shops by now. But that’s not how it goes. Instead, you need to prove your worth before even standing a shot at winning contracts which can make a real difference to you. There’s no escaping the fact that, sometimes, it’ll feel like hitting your head against a very hard and unforgiving wall.
The good news is, you don’t have to hit that wall fruitlessly. They do say that every rejection is a lesson to be learned. If you approach your business with that attitude, you can make a dent each time you attack. Eventually, that dent will make a hole. Your efforts to that point will make you big, strong and ready to go up against the great whites. Okay, enough of the sea metaphors. But, you see what we’re getting at. Perseverance and continued efforts increase your chances of being seen, as well as making you stronger as a business. There are also steps you can take to show that your startup means business and we’re going to look at a few of them here.
An official image
In case you hadn’t realized, appearance matters in the business world and it matters in a few different ways. First, you need to focus on professional branding. If your logo is poorly designed, you have little chance of impressing existing businesses. As soon as they see your letters or emails, there’s a distinct chance they’ll put them in the trash. Keep in mind that you’re going up against a load of other startups. When competition is fierce, something as simple as a dislike of your logo can seal the deal. To make sure that doesn’t happen, pay proper attention to your designing stages. Examine logos that you know and like. What shapes are used and which colors? Think about which programs you use for the job. Trying to create something yourself on basic programs may not be the best idea. Instead, it’s worth either hunting down programs which create a professional image or paying someone who can do that for you.
Your image as a business owner matters. If you manage to secure a meeting, it isn’t going too go far if you turn up in jogging bottoms. That should go without saying, of course. But, there’s more to perfecting your image than merely sticking on a suit. You need to think about the implications of every aspect of your appearance, from the bag you carry to the shoes you wear on your feet. It should all scream ‘professional’ from the moment you enter that room. If it doesn’t, you may need to reconsider.
This is one of those tricky catch 22 situations in the business world. It’s nearly impossible to afford a team until you’ve been at it for a while and are earning money. Having a team behind you means that someone who isn’t you was willing to take a risk on what you do. That’s more important than you could even imagine.
So, how can you get around this issue when you’re barely breaking even? In truth, there’s no easy fix here. It may be worth taking on at least one other person on a part-time basis. Even if you think this will stretch your finances, it can increase your potential for earning in a significant way. Consider whether it would be worth your while. As well as helping you look more serious, having a team behind you can help boost production. This would also bring new ideas to the table. When you consider all of this, it can seem like a sensible move for any business owner to make.
If employing others isn’t on the cards, you could get passionate friends on board for big meetings. While not ideal, at least you’ll have someone else who’s willing to put their face to your brand this way. Some recommendation is better than none.
A detailed knowledge
When it comes to showing that you’re serious, it also pays to know your stuff. Nothing screams amateur like an entrepreneur who doesn’t know her product or market. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you already know it all. None of us do. You should always do your research before any presentation. That way, you can prepare for any possible questions. You need to know everything from the estimated costs of your products to the latest developments of your competitors. You also need to know the ins and outs of manufacturing, materials and what your product does. Nothing kills a meeting more than an entrepreneur’s inability to answer a fundamental question about her product. Yet, it happens far more often than you might think.
To make sure you don’t fall into that trap, it’s essential you read up on every little detail. You also need to consider every possible angle from which bigger businesses could approach this. We’d love to say that they aren’t trying to catch you out, but that wouldn’t be strictly true. If a significant business is considering investing, they’ll do everything to find chinks in your armor. Even the slightest falter could spell curtains for a deal. Practice answering questions in an easy and informative manner. Get loved ones to play the part of your investor and practice until you feel comfortable.
Of course, no amount of preparation can take away from the fact that there will be some questions you can’t answer. Just as important as your knowledge is your ability to seem knowledgeable about things you don’t know. Practice answering questions without admitting your ignorance of them. Wise wording and managing to turn the conversation to things you do know is all it takes. There’s a chance that those big businesses will recognize these techniques. But that isn’t the point. Every company has to cope with situations like these now and again.
A perfected presentation
And, of course, you need to pay a little attention to your presentation itself. This is your real shot at impressing. If this is unprofessional or unplanned, nothing else will help you. It is, as they say, make or break. The actual body of your presentation is the most important thing. Do your research when deciding what information to include. You want to add details about your product, as well as profit estimates and detailed analysis about your target market. Of course, it won’t look very professional if you merely stand at the front of the room and state this information.
Hence, you should focus on providing visual queues, too. PowerPoint presentations still have a part to play in business meetings like these. You could fall back on that old favorite. By providing slides that back the information you’re giving, you stand a much better chance of impressing. You could also opt to hand out printed versions. It’s also worth turning to a prototype manufacturing company in the run up to the big day. That way, you can develop physical proof of how your product will be. Again, a move like this will be a significant tick against your name. Not every startup goes to lengths like these. The fact that you’ve spent this money shows how much you believe in what you’re doing.
No one said it would be easy getting big businesses to recognize your small enterprise. That said, it’s far from an impossible task. As you can see from above, there are simple tricks to help show you mean business. Following each of these points will leave you with a much better shot at sealing big deals. In many ways, you just have to act like you’re already up there with the big boys. Get the act right and you’ll find that you’re not pretending anymore in no time at all. Give it a go and see how things work out.