Business Plan – Sell it in 30 Seconds With an Elevator Speech

Business Plan – Sell it in 30 Seconds With an Elevator Speech


In the previous article we discussed the ideal length of a business plan and concluded that “short is good, long is bad.” One probably looks at 10 to 25 pages, depending on circumstances. We also referred to the MIT Twitter competition asking you to sell your plan in 184 characters. Lastly we referred to the ad industry – selling your product in a 30 second TV commercial.

Today we will take a look at the idea of selling your business plan in 30 seconds with an elevator speech. It seems as if the origin of the term “elevator speech” is debatable. The concept, however, is simple. If someone asks you what you or your business does, can you sum it up in 30 seconds? This is about the time you may have when the question is posed to you while in an elevator or lift.

In a previous article we described the essence of a business plan as follows:

  • Essential 1 – It is all about return on investment
  • Essential 2 – It is about “finding a need, and filling it
  • Essential 3 – You are probably not alone

The elevator speech is really about describing the essence of your plan in 30 seconds. We have also previously indicated that consumers consciously or unconsciously ask four questions before they buy your products:

  1. Who are you? (Brand)
  2. What do you offer me? (Products / services)
  3. What’s in it for me? (Benefits / value)
  4. Why you? (Uniqueness / competitive difference)

This is really what the elevator speech is all about, namely answering those four questions in 30 seconds. The Harvard Business School has a cute template on the Internet that guides you through the process by asking the following questions:

  • Who? – Describe who you are (Brand identity);
  • What? – Describe what you do (Value proposition);
  • Why? – Describe why you are unique (Differentiating statement);
  • Goal? – Describe what you are expecting from the listener (Call to action).

The passion with which you will deliver the speech is just as important as the content. If you are not excited about what you have to offer, why should others be?

We recently assisted a client with a business plan. Before we went into the process, we tried to first do an elevator speech and came up with this:

“3 Pigs Construction is a consortium of qualified professionals that builds houses using straw bales and straw related building material that gives you a “back-to-nature” and uniquely comfortable lifestyle at half the cost and in half the time of traditional brick-and-mortar dwellings”

One can probably still improve on that, but basically it conveys what the company is all about, what value they deliver and what makes them better than traditional building methods. Start your business planning process by developing an elevator speech that will clarify the key essentials of your business.

Happy planning. Make it a challenging, exciting and creative experience.



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