Intrapreneur: Pitch & Preparation
Pitching the idea. As an intrapreneur, if you are lucky, and after an enormous amount of work, you will have to pitch a stakeholder (or group of them) on your idea, plan, and request. A lot goes into this, and while it is not as dramatic as say SharkTank, it can be intimidating, frustrating, disappointing and nerve racking nonetheless. While practice always improves performance, I have found that having the right framework to get and stay organized eases the burden a bit. Here are two tools that can help you be more successful.
Pitch decks. I have used pitch decks many times in my career. They have ranged from five slides to 20. If you have a deck with more than 20 slides you do not have a pitch, you have a lecture — and you will lose your audience. KEY — if you simply must or need to have more than 20 slides — keep the best most important ones up front and move the rest to an appendix. You and your idea need to be the center of attention for the pitch — not the slides. If for some reason your idea addresses a complex challenge or idea, think about providing supplemental materials in advance but know that most stakeholders will not read them.
Many in the startup world will disagree with what I say above, noting that the ten slide rule is dominant. I am not one for hard and fast rules, and while pitching to venture capitalists is high stakes, as an intrapreneur, we typically pitch to our bosses, executives, peers, and others with whom we must live with whether or not they buy into our idea. Also, we are in law land, not Silicon Valley, it makes sense to have a different approach, and I have found ten slides may be appropriate but often more are needed. That said, I have never broken the 20 slide mark, and I tend to have somewhere between eight and fifteen.
The key elements of an intrapreneur’s pitch deck are:
1. Who are the target users/customers/clients? Are they internal or external? If external, is this a new or existing segment for us?
2. What problem do they have? Do they openly recognize this problem or is it unrecognized?
3. What are their met and unmet needs with their current set of solutions?
4. What is the proposed new offering (service, product, experience)?
5. What are the benefits to the user?
6. What is the growth outcome for our business (wallet-share, market share, brand extension, etc.)?
7. Why will the users choose this offering over current service?
8. What resources will be needed to validate this idea? AKA — “the ask.”
9. Timeline for key milestones and report back to this group.
10. How should ROI/success be measured? Biggest risks of failure and mitigation plan.
It is important to note that in element #2 there is a callout for whether the problem is recognized or not. This is a vital observation to make and communicate. If the intended user currently does not perceive a problem, the ultimate solution you are a trying to design better either be immediately attractive on its own (a rarity and tremendously difficult to pull off) or in need of a change management or education campaign to accompany its rollout. Change management efforts increase the risk of failure significantly. Hearts and mind campaigns take a lot of effort and resources, and there is no guarantee of progress.
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