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Perfecting Your Small Business Elevator Pitch

Can you sell someone on your business in 60 seconds or less? Making sure your elevator pitch is perfect might come in handy when a potential client or investor is short on time.

You have one minute to tell potential clients or investors everything about your business and leave them feeling enthusiastic and intrigued. Go.

That might sound daunting, but perfecting the "elevator pitch" can be a crucial part of your business. At any business-related event (and sometimes even in an actual elevator), you may be called on to give a brief description of your company and value proposition. Here are some tips on making that minute (or less) count.

Keep it short, and then cut it in half. Take some time to describe your company, what it has to offer and why the listener should care. Most likely, it takes a few minutes to cover that information — but a solid elevator pitch should be only 30 to 60 seconds.

Watch your language. Be clear and articulate, without using jargon or buzzwords. Your listener is ready for powerful, concise language, not marketing speak that might be vague and unhelpful.

Tell a story. If possible, throw in a shortened version of a typical customer problem and how you can solve it.

Tweak the content for your audience. Some companies do well by having several different pitches. Have a general one handy, but also one for potential clients or customers, one for possible investors and one for potential recruits. Each pitch should emphasize an aspect of the company that the audience will find particularly compelling (e.g., a pitch for investors could reference how you stand out from your competition).

Practice the pitch. When delivering the information, you don't want to seem overly rehearsed. At the same time, sentences and ideas should flow smoothly. Ask friends, family members and colleagues to listen to different versions and give candid feedback on what works and what doesn't. Also, record the pitch and listen to it yourself; imagine you're a customer or investor and consider what would catch your attention.

Watch your audience. Most likely, you'll see when someone's attention begins to wander. Note the moment in your pitch when this happens, and adjust that part for the next time.

Know your goal. Above all, understand why you're talking about the company. If it's to earn a referral, get startup funding or enlist a new prospect, focus all your energy toward that objective.

You never know when you'll need to deliver the perfect elevator pitch. Make sure you're ready to shine, no matter when the opportunity arises.

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