Pitch perfect – the importance of an elevator pitch

An elevator pitch is a quick, well planned overview or summary that describes what your

business does. The term elevator pitch originated when a person tried to sell something during a short elevator ride. If the person was not interested they could get off the elevator at the next floor. The whole point of an elevator pitch is to capture someone’s attention and quickly tell your story and at the same time create interest.

Why do you need one?

You never know when a business opportunity will pop up! Some entrepreneurs rely on improvisation when making a quick pitch. They believe an over-rehearsed pitch can sound too mechanical or fake. But not having a plan can backfire. If you wing it, you could stumble on your words or forget to mention something important about your business. Have you ever listened to someone say ‘hmmm’ quite a few times during a quick conversation? The person listening loses interest quickly. If you truly have a passion for what you do, it will come across during the pitch.

Having an elevator pitch prepared ahead of time can help you develop clear, concise points about your business so that you aren’t stumbling on your words. Having a plan can help make you look like the expert. If you aren’t able present yourself properly during a pitch you can lose out on an opportunity.  Your pitch is an excellent way to start off a conversation at a networking event or seminar.

Points to remember when developing an elevator pitch:

  • Make sure your pitch answers who, what, where, when, why and how
  • Keep it short and sweet – You have approximately thirty seconds to two minutes
  • Less is more – keep the wording simple
  • Practice makes perfect – Rehearse you pitch but keep it natural
  • Offer something at no risk (e.g. let’s get together and I can give you a few tips on…)
  • Make eye contact
  • Shake hands with conviction
  • Follow up

You can only make a first impression once!  Make sure that your elevator pitch clearly defines you and your business.  Create interest and make a lasting impression.

One of the goals of the Centre is to empower small and medium-sized enterprises and give you the tools to achieve success.  For more information about resources, services, business events and seminars, contact us by dialing 311, 1-866-442-5866, online at halton.ca/smallbusiness, by email at smallbusiness@halton.ca or visit us at 1151 Bronte Road, Oakville. You can also follow us on Twitter and find us on Facebook.

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“Why you?” – The Unique Selling Proposition

Whether you’re pitching your business idea to funders and business partners, or trying toWomen Entrepreneur close a deal at a sales meeting, having a clearly defined “Unique Selling Proposition” will be a key to your success.

Two specific parts of your pitch are important:

  1. The Value Proposition
  2. The Unique Selling Proposition

The Value Proposition

This helps you to explain why a customer will buy your product or service . It describes what problem is solved by what you offer. There is no sense in trying to sell a Ford if you haven’t yet convinced the consumer that driving a car is a good way to get around. Continue reading

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Personal Business Objectives

What motivates someone to become an entrepreneur? Is money and personal wealth the only motivation? Evidence suggests that there are many more reasons why someone wants to start a business.Personal Business Objectives Every business starts small; but by taking some calculated risks, doing proper market research and developing a comprehensive business plan, a start-up business can become very large, profitable and valuable.

Not every entrepreneur wants to build a big business and earn a fortune and create an empire. Personal business objectives vary for each individual. Objectives when starting a business can generally be split into two categories: Continue reading

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Business planning: The importance of a SWOT analysis

A SWOT analysis is a structured planning method that can be used to help develop a strong business strategy by creating an organized list of both internal and external factors that can impact your business positively or negatively. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

SWOT analysis, strength, weakness, opportunity, and threat words

SWOT analysis, strength, weakness, opportunity, and threat 

If you are starting a business it can help you define and reinforce the viability of your business. The SWOT process will help you gather information so you can make informed decisions about the future of your business.

How to conduct a SWOT analysis

Who should use a SWOT?

If you are a start up business you should conduct a SWOT analysis to help define timeline and risks as well as goals for your new business. If you are an existing business you can use it if you are going to be adding any new service or product to help define the viability in relation to the marketplace. A SWOT can also be used within an organization during meetings to make sure everyone is on the same page.

The important thing to remember is to be realistic and honest while doing a SWOT. If something is unattainable then other objectives need to be discussed. It should help you identify and generate new goals as well as the best direction to grow your business.

The Halton Region Small Business Centre has SWOT templates to help define your next steps. One of the goals of the Centre is to empower small and medium-sized enterprises and give you the tools to achieve success. For more information about resources, services, business events and seminars, contact us by dialing 311, 1-866-442-5866, online at halton.ca/smallbusiness, by email at smallbusiness@halton.ca

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Summer Company students are taking care of business

The Halton Small Business Centre is once again coordinating the Summer Company

Summer Company Participant: •Lucy He – Keys to Success Piano and Tutoring

Summer Company Participant: • Lucy He – Keys to Success Piano and Tutoring

program in Halton Region for the Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation.

This program assists high school and post-secondary students who are looking to develop entrepreneurial skills while operating their own summer businesses in Halton.  Rather than going the traditional summer job route, these entrepreneurial students are paving the way toward a future of independence and opportunity.

Thirteen students developed and submitted business plans outlining their start-up costs and cash flow projections.  The province has provided $1,500 in start-up funding and at the end of the summer, these student entrepreneurs will be eligible to receive an additional $1,500 award based on business performance.

Here are the students and their respective businesses for 2015 in Halton Region:

  • Darryl Apple – InFaction Studios

InFaction Studios is based in Oakville and dedicated to providing a professional, fairly priced and reliable service in graphic design, motion graphics, and illustration. Our goal is to bring the visual ideas of clients to life with originality and professionalism. Continue reading

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Key tips to business planning

Business planning is one of the most common areas of interest for our clients at the

Portrait of young modern businessman

Halton Small Business Centre. Here are a few tips on business planning, as well as how we at the Halton Small Business Centre can assist you to write a fantastic plan of your own!

  1. Business planning basics

A business plan is the road map for your business, outlining where you will take the business and how you will get there.  Ensuring that you have done a complete job of including all of the details is critical. First and foremost, the business plan is for you. One of the biggest contributors to failure in small business is poor planning, so think of your business plan as a critical document on your road to success.

The plan is also your ticket to financing and communicating your vision to others, so make sure your writing is clear, concise, and easy to understand. Avoid using too much jargon or industry-specific language that only you will understand; remember that the bank loans officer sitting across from you or the private investor you are showing it to might not have your training or understanding of your industry.

  1. Formats and templates

The business plan template should always include the following sections:

  • Introduction (made up of your title page, table of contents, and executive summary)
  • Business concept
  • Operations
  • Marketing
  • Financials
  • Appendices

The Halton Small Business Centre has a basic business planning template for you to use. Check out our website for templates and other resources.

There are a lot of different templates that you can follow; if you are applying for a loan, check with the institution where you are applying and use their template, as they will be familiar with it.

You can also use software such as Business Plan Pro to assist you. We have this software available at the Halton Small Business Centre, and all clients are welcome to come in and use it for free.

  1. Keys when writing the plan

When writing the plan it is always good to make sure you answer every section in detail. Wherever possible include dates, timelines, and specifics. Avoid ambiguous statements, and make sure you have conducted thorough research – a poorly researched and vague business plan will not only scare away investors, but it will be little help to you as well.

When it comes to the financial statements, make sure to forecast sales conservatively and expenses aggressively. One of the most common mistakes new business owners make is to forecast too high on sales and too low on expenses. Try to avoid this trap!

At the Halton Small Business Centre we offer a number of reference books including case studies from all industries, as well as dozens of online samples through Business Plan Pro.  Once you have written your plan we will be happy to review it for you and provide feedback. Whether you are going to a bank or just writing it for yourself, we will assist you to make sure that your plan is on the right track. For more information on how we can assist you to create your own road map to success through outstanding business planning, visit the Halton Small Business Centre at 1151 Bronte Road, Oakville or online at www.haltonsmallbusiness.ca



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How to find credible funding information on the internet

Finding credible funding resources online can sometimes be a challenge for entrepreneurs.July6Img2 There is a lot of misinformation about where to look for small business funding and sorting through various websites can be a huge burden for those looking to get started.

CanadaBusiness.ca is an excellent resource for information on various small business related topics and has a great feature for funding information through the “Find Financing” tool. This tool is ideal for any potential small business owner for three reasons:

  1. It is credible – As mentioned above, there is a lot of inaccurate funding information online. Sometimes this information is accidentally circulated (e.g. a story from a friend of a friend, or an assumption that a program should exist). Other times the misinformation is distributed on purpose, often with the objective of selling services or products under the suggestion that the purchase will help an entrepreneur secure free money. ca can often be used to help validate that a program is credible when they first appear online.
  2. It includes funding programs from sources beyond the federal government – It would be easy to assume that visiting a federal government website would show only programs specifically provided by the Government of Canada. This site includes a variety of different programs from different groups including: 
  1. Search results can be filtered based on your specific funding objective –      It isJuly6Img1 important while searching for funding to have a specific plan for what the money will be used for. Programs usually have very specific mandates and therefore specific parameters regarding what can and cannot be funded. Where one program might support funding a salary for a worker, another will be appropriate for funding new equipment. Search results on the canadabusiness.ca website can be filtered based on your specific objective.

Our monthly Starting a Small Business Seminar includes information on “Traditional and non-traditional sources of financing” as well as a short demonstration of CanadaBusiness.ca.

The consultants the Halton Region Small Business Centre are here to help with planning your new small business. We welcome you to discuss any results of your search on CanadaBusiness.ca at a free one-on-one consultation with one of our knowledgeable business consultants.

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