There’s no getting away from it, but if you’re starting up a new business you’ll be expected to pitch, pitch and pitch again to all sorts of people in all sorts of contexts for all sorts of reasons. Until you have pitched your business proposal to your mother, her bright idea to your dad, and his eureka moment to your bank manager you will not be deemed to be a start up worth your salt.
Pitching has become the litmus test of the entrepreneur’s intentions, ideally indicating a compelling economic future. Without the watertight pitch, the entrepreneur’s aspirations just become the flotsam and jetsam of the flood plains of the Somerset Levels, washed up on the kitchen table or floating down the street collecting yapping dogs or stranded grannies along the way.
Pitching – the process of summarising a business proposition and ending in a big ask – can be useful in helping crystallise why you’re doing what you’re doing and communicating that rationale in as succinct fashion as possible. But it’s based on the premise that you have something valuable to say to people who are worthy of hearing it but who don’t have the time or attention span to give it the time it deserves. Your pitch has to deliver its promise unapologetically: and then get the hell back to Kansas as fast as it can because, after all, you’re talking to very busy people who have much better things to be doing.
Pitching has become to business thinking what MacDonald’s has become to haute cuisine: high carb and high fat delivering a sugar rush of big promises and inflated bank balances in the time it takes to travel from the 10th to the ground floor of your friendly neighbourhood economic regeneration agency. Pitches generate wind, hot air and impossible deals of undeliverables in equal measure. If you measured the amount of Amazonian rain forest cut down by intrepid entrepreneurs in the search for the willing investor, it would match the number of quarter pounders consumed by a population the size of Wales every single week.
In short, the pitch consumes the entrepreneur’s energy, intellect and emotional reserves in ways which can lead to flatulence, obesity and short sighted, short term gratification. They may be terrific at hooking investors into the short term buy in and medium term buy out: but whether they contribute to a region’s long term economic health is another matter altogether.