This article originally appeared on Tech City UK as a guest post for their blog.
Hindsight is always 20⁄20. The reason why we do things isn’t always clear at the start. What we do and How we do it is easier to answer because our actions speak for us. The why however, is difficult because it requires an answer consisting of values.
It is a constant cultivation that emerges and then hides depending on context and time. It is not necessarily a source to be found. I want to talk about a specific situation within the sphere of startups that relates to this cultivation of why and it’s what every startup goes through: pitching.
Every opportunity to pitch is an opportunity to understand why you do what you do.
Pitching isn’t just reserved to an audience of investors. Any chance you get to talk about your company and what it does is considered a pitch, be it a casual conversation in a coffee shop or your local library. Pitching is great practise for you to keep learning about your why, so that when the next pitch comes, you clarify it better.
At Swipe, we’ve learned a lot about pitches and presentations. We’ve also learned that not understanding your why can make it harder to pitch. One of the most common mistakes is that we don’t know what to say because we don’t know why we’re here. And it’s obvious, from how we present to the presentation itself. We tend to show too much and not say enough. We abuse text and images, and we overlook simplicity. We find ourselves overthinking and spending too long on it. When it comes to actually pitching, we get so self-conscious that we forget about engaging the audience.
The reality is first pitches are likely to suck. It’s almost inevitable. Especially when you don’t know your why. Accept this. However, all hope is not lost, because like I said, every opportunity to pitch is an opportunity to understand why you do what you do.
The feedback you get, the mistakes you make, the failure that happens, are all channels through which reflections of values can occur. Of course this isn’t excluded to pitches, but different walks of life: education, relationships, art.
My point here is really about perspective. It’s not uncommon for founders to fear and loathe pitches, having to deal with investors who appear to not care about them but the market value of their company, which has an element of truth to it.
Yet, say you don’t pitch for them, but for you. Say you switch that perspective and think of every pitch as a step forward to learning about your why. It’s a constant cultivation. It’s always an ongoing process; and it evolves as you and your company evolve. Remember this whenever you find yourself in the position of pitching.