Every good story has a conflict. Actually, let me rephrase: every good story includes solving an epic conflict.
Think of any memorable movie or series you watched, a book you read, or even a viral social media post. They all swivel around cracking an issue.
The same is true for your business idea. You wouldn’t have come up with it if there wasn’t a challenge to overcome, a disruption to fix, or a need to satisfy. The conflict describes WHY you’re doing what you’re doing.
The WHY is your driver, your fuel, your incentive – it’s the big bang of your story. And that’s what investors are looking for when you present to them, not just what you’re doing right now but rather your raison d’etre.
What’s in a WHY?
Simon Sinek understood this when he shaped his vision of people not buying what you do but why you do it. It’s human nature to want to know the motivation behind an action or an offer.
Now, remember that venture capitalists are humans too. So every psychological truth applies to them as much as to anyone else.
Venture capitalists are also awash in a flood of pitches containing numbers and facts playing catch in their heads; which figures go with which solution again? If you want to make sure that your idea is the one that sticks, you need to create an emotional connection using a story around your WHY.
Let them in on the motivation that drove you towards seeking answers. Approach it as if it were a precious secret waiting to be revealed because when you do, your potential investors already feel part of the solution.
Adding value and purpose to your idea creates an emotional point of connection for your listeners.
How to build your WHY
There’s no one right way to find your why – it’s as unique as your DNA – it’s in your company’s DNA. But here are a few guidelines to get to your Why statement:
- Ask yourself why you started this journey?
- What do you really hope to achieve?
- If money and time were not obstacles – what would you really want to do with your company?
- What is the seismic shift in the market that you will create?
- In 5 years from now, when you have been acquired, IPO’d, or had a major funding or contract event, and Techcrunch writes about you – what will they call you? The company that did X for Y?
This is a moonshot. This is not your product now, this is what it has the potential to become and you need funding to bring you closer to that dream, that vision, becoming a reality.
Here are a few examples of WHY statements of well-known companies – note how they don’t mention their products or technology at all:
Show you care
There’s more to it. People, investors, want to know you care. Nobody likes to buy from people or invest in businesses whose only motivation is to satisfy their own need for profit.
At the very basic level, you need to show you care about the customer. In the case of investors, demonstrate respect for their potential investment. It’s simple psychology.
Before anyone gives you their funding, they need to believe they are contributing towards a significant change in the market or a bettering of people’s lives. They need to be convinced the money they pull out of their pockets will do something valuable other than raise the stack of dollars in your bank account – and theirs, eventually.
Closing the circle
Your WHY is the vision that drives you forward through iteration upon iteration of your product, leading to the coveted one-day-when-you-have-become the market leader, that company that has done something profound. It’s not necessarily solving world hunger or getting to zero carbon (though it might be), but it should be a tectonic shift in the way things are done today in your market. It’s the combination of being a visionary, execution of the vision, the path forward and tangible, measurable results proving your need and worth make up the golden ticket to getting funded.
Donna Griffit is a storyteller and pitch alchemist who has helped hundreds of global startups and VCs raise over a billion dollars. She can be found online at donnagriffit.com.
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