start-your-business

8 Secret Weapons for Pitching Like a Pro

Pitching your business—sounds scary, right? Sometimes it can feel downright terrifying. Luckily, our members have gone through this process several times, and are always happy to share their advice.

Below you’ll find eight stories of that secret weapon our members use when pitching their business, and how they achieve success.

Q: What’s your secret weapon when you’re describing your business?

Offer something valuable

Lead with generosity. I make sure to offer prospective clients something of value during a consultation. That way, even if they don't hire you on the spot, they have a better sense of your value proposition when they reconsider or refer others in the future.

Give a concise answer

Giving a concise answer that highlights our specific niche. When I first started, I kept my pitches very 'general' but no one responded. Since then, I've focused what my main offerings are, and why I'm different and notable. I'm happy to say I’ve landed features in Thrillist, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, Oxygen Network, Village Voice, 7x7, and Bustle.

Listen to your client’s needs

As an architect the basis of a good project is it to be functional, to answer to the needs of the client, and to have a design language. But that’s not enough. To learn the client's need to listen and be emphatic. When a problem arises, use eye contact, a friendly tone and a ‘Thank you’ email to set a cooperative tone. And try and the issue.

Get them to like you

The secret weapon has nothing to do with the business... it's about you. The person pitching it. People do business with people they like.

Be honest

My secret weapon is to be totally transparent and honest. If people know how important it is for me to help them in some small way, then maybe they will give me that honor.

Build connections and trust

  People like to feel like they’re a part of something; a movement, a trend, or an idea. I lead with a vision of who we are and what we’re about. This builds connection, trust and engagement. Once this is established, I learn about the client’s needs and how our services can help them. Pitching conversations like these lead to the best business relationships.

Contact the right person

If you contact the wrong person and they don’t respond, you may feel frustrated and deterred. Knowing the who, why and what is the key to a successful pitch will get their attention.

Focus on the ‘why’

I always try to be as precise as possible when explaining what Youpooly is offering, until I realized I was conveying far too much information. Then, I started to pitch smaller pieces of information, and concentrate on why we are doing this. The what can change but the why never does. When I realized that, I had a personal breakthrough.
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In the Home Stretch, Creator Award Finalists Perfect Their Pitch

After leading her nonprofit for a decade, Cristi Hegranes had perfected her pitch. She knew just how to describe her organization’s work to the boards of some of the world’s most prominent foundations.

Then she was notified that Global Press Institute was a finalist for the Creator Awards, and she threw her usual pitch out the window.

“We’re trying out some new language, new description, new slides—basically everything,” says the member at WeWork Manhattan Laundry. “This is not the typical foundation types we’re used to pitching to. It’s exciting, and a little bit nerve-wracking.”

Hegranes says the Creator Awards, launched by WeWork to “recognize and reward the creators of the world,” are different because she won’t be pitching to a roomful of people in business suits.

“This will be more like talking with peers,” she says, “people who understand how difficult it is to raise the funding to take your organization to the next level.”

WeWork Creator Awards
There are three categories of Creator Awards: the Incubate Awards for great ideas, the Launch Awards for young businesses getting off the ground, and the Scale Awards for more established operations.

Over the course of a year, WeWork will be giving out more than $20 million at a series of events taking place in cities spanning the globe. The first Creator Awards competition will take place Tuesday at Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington. D.C.

Subsequent Creator Awards events will take place in North America, Europe, and the Middle East. Winners from each event will come together for the global finals, to be held in New York City on November 30.

Creator Awards finalist Shaun Masavage, co-founder of Edge Tech Labs, is also avoiding the usual type of pitch. His plan for introducing Fret Zeppelin, an eye-catching device that uses LED lights to help you learn guitar, is pretty unusual.

I think our pitch is going to be pretty good,” says the WeWork Crystal City member. “We’ll try to get one of the judges to come up on stage and teach them guitar in 60 seconds.”

And finalist Thomas Doochin, one of the founders of Daymaker, says he hasn’t even had time to think about his pitch. His company, which helps kids give to others who are less fortunate, was going to relaunch his company on Wednesday with a completely new name, website, and branding.

“First we heard that we were finalists in the Creator Awards,” says the member at WeWork Dupont Circle. “But the event was on Tuesday, the day before our relaunch. So I told the team we had to get everything ready a day early.”

They worked through this past weekend to get the new website up and running by the time Doochin steps on the stage at Mellon Auditorium.

Arion Long of Femly says she’s excited to share her idea of sending chemical-free products designed to keep women healthier and happier straight to their door.
Arion Long of Femly says she’s excited to share her idea of sending chemical-free products designed to keep women healthier and happier straight to their door.

There are three categories of Creator Awards, including the Incubate Award for great ideas or specific projects that need funding, and the Launch Award for young businesses and organizations that need a little help getting off the ground. Arion Long is competing for the Scale Award, which is for more established operations aiming to get to the next level.

Long, founder of a monthly subscription box for feminine health products called Femly Box, says she was visiting family in North Carolina when she heard about the competition. She shot her 90-second video after everyone went to bed.

“I made it at about 2 in the morning,” Long says, laughing. “I was standing in front of a curtain. I had to do several takes, because someone was coughing in the background.”

Long, who had a cervical tumor when she was 26, says she’s excited to share her idea of sending chemical-free products designed to keep women healthier and happier straight to their door.

Santos Jaime Gonzalez, cofounder of an on-demand beauty and makeup service called Manestream, says he was “humbled” when he found out that he was a finalist.

“Normally when I get exciting news I send it to the team right away,” says Gonzales, a member at Philadelphia’s WeWork 1900 Market. “I got an email at about 5 in the afternoon, but I needed some time by myself to process the news. At 6 the next morning, I finally sent it out to the team. Of course everyone was jumping around, going crazy.”

What will Gonzalez do if he wins a Creator Award? He says the money will help his company scale quickly, increasing the number of beauty consultants to about 100,000 over the next 12 months.

“We’ve disrupted the beauty industry by making it on demand,” he says. “Now the true disruption happens.”

Darius Baxter is a cofounder of the nonprofit GOOD Projects, which pairs young people from disadvantaged neighborhoods with inspirational mentors. The organization currently works with teenagers who’ve gone through the criminal justice system. He wants to help others as well.

“We don’t want to wait for kids to be locked up to provide them with services,” says Baxter. “This would go a long way in helping us achieve that goal.”

And Kevin White, executive director of Global Vision 2020, says winning would allow him to start a pilot program to provide eyeglasses to high school students in Mozambique.

“Injection molds are expensive, but winning the Creator Awards would mean that we could purchase them and immediately start producing eyeglasses,” says White. “Imagine providing glasses to all the students in an entire country. It would be amazing.”

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inspiration

5 WeWork Members Who Rocked at SXSW

I was fortunate enough to attend this year’s South by Southwest in Austin, and experience everything from tacos to Topo Chico—but my favorite thing was seeing the variety of WeWork members represented at the festival.

Chameleon Cold Brew—maker of an incredibly refreshing cold brew coffee—was featured alongside donut milkshakes, slow-mo cameras, and social media insights at the Spredfast Social Suite.

Medici 2Medici is an app that focuses on redefining the future of patient/doctor interactions so that you can access healthcare anywhere. Besides speaking on a panel about The Future of Dynamic Innovations in Healthcare, this WeWork Congress member held some fun activations for fellow WeWork members & even sponsored some SXSW swag.

A WeWork NoMad member, RewardStyle announced the launch of their new app, liketoknow.it. Their #StartedWithAScreenshoot photo opp on Rainey Street in the heart of the festival was extremely popular.

Edge Tech Labs, based out of WeWork Crystal City, made the trek to Austin to share their Fret Zeppelin product, which uses LED lights that help you learn how to play guitar.

While these WeWork Congress members didn’t have to go far to be in the heart of SXSW, Chariot was able to show off how it is reinventing mass transit and providing riders a fast, affordable, and comfortable commute. They sponsored a concert by the band Magic Giant.

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inspiration

7 Must-Read Business Books for 2017

While I’ve certainly picked up plenty of business lessons through personal experience and embarrassing failures, I’ve learned the most from seasoned entrepreneurs who’ve been where I want to go.

These books show what it’s like to face adversity and still persevere. Here are my picks for the top seven business books every entrepreneur and creative needs to read this year. Some are brand new, while others are classics. Once you get through these, I have 70 other recommendations on my blog.

1. Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Tim Ferriss.

This 650-page beast dives into everything Tim Ferriss has learned—from tactics to routines to habits. The bestselling author of The 4-Hour Workweek interviews more than 200 of the world’s most recognizable figures in business, sports, academia, the military and just about every other imaginable industry. You can also catch his insights on The Tim Ferriss Show, which now has over 100 million downloads.

Tools of Titans is my number one pick because it features business advice, productivity tips, and life lessons from industry leaders like Tony Robbins, Derek Sivers, Daymond John and others.

2. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport.

A Wall Street Journal bestseller, this book argues that one of the most valuable skills in the world is quickly becoming a rarity—the ability to focus without distraction on a demanding task. Author Cal Newport explains that by mastering this skill, you’ll be able to more effectively process complicated information and deliver better results in less time.

This is one of those books I picked up and started reading because I needed to reaffirm my commitment to staying focused. Many of the principles covered in this book helped me refine my opportunity management system for being more productive, while wearing different hats as a content marketer, blogger and course creator. So, if you’re spreading yourself too thin, want to learn how to eliminate (and stay away from) distractions, and get back to doing what you do best—Deep Work is guaranteed to help you accomplish that.

3. Smarter Faster Better: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity by Charles Duhigg.

This book is unique in the productivity space because it offers up a new definition of what it means to be productive. You’ll learn how to shift your focus to managing how you think, rather than spending time managing what you think. It’s core principle is that you can transform your life by making certain choices—and bestselling author Charles Duhigg gives you the tools to rewire your decision-making process.

In Smarter Faster Better, Duhigg lays out a compelling case for how the model for traditional goal-setting focuses primarily on big ambitions, but ignores smaller decisions. He says it’s important to remember the smaller goals if you want to create big change in your life or business. He argues that the people and companies who innovate quickest, and get the most done, have mastered the art of shifting importance to achieving small goals—that eventually latter up to bigger ones.

4. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson.

The title alone sold me on this book, but it’s been recommended to me by several friends. This New York Times bestseller is built around the core argument, backed by academic research, that improving our lives hinges not on our ability to turn “lemons into lemonade,” but on learning to stomach the lemons better. It’s about setting realistic expectations for ourselves. He suggests embracing our fears, faults and uncertainties in order to find courage, honesty and the responsibility we seek. I can’t wait to dive into this one.

One of the things I like most about this book is author Mark Manson‘s personal writing style. A combination of serious life advice and comedy, he keeps you engaged and anxiously anticipating what comes next.

5. The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage by Daymond John.

I’m a huge fan of stories about how entrepreneurs rise from humble beginnings to achieve success. Shark Tank star and Fubu founder, Daymond John, discusses how to leverage tools, relationships and resources at your disposal, to build a successful business on a small budget.

He emphasizes how starting a business when you are broke forces you to think creatively, use your limited resources efficiently, and be innovative. Even more importantly, he explains how he’s intentionally placed resource constraints on himself over the years and how that has helped him. The Power of Broke is a great read for both first-time entrepreneurs and seasons veterans.

6. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek.

Start with Why grew out of a TED talk delivered by the author, Simon Sinek. The third most popular TED Talk, it’s built around the question, “Why are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others?” This book’s basic premise is that leaders who have the greatest influence, act and communicate in the same way.

Sinek calls this idea, “The Golden Circle,” and it all begin with the question, “Why?” It’s interesting that reviewers either love it or hate it. Personally, I love it. I think the harshest reactions come from readers who have difficulty viewing themselves objectively, taking in critical feedback, and translating that into positive changes in their leadership style.

7. Reinvent Yourself by James Altucher.

In Reinvent Yourself, bestselling author and entrepreneur James Altucher (in typical fashion) takes a deep dive into his several successes, numerous devastating failures and how he’s constantly reinvented himself in the face of painful life changes. If you’re in a personal or professional rut and feel like your business needs a change of direction, this book will be incredibly helpful. Altucher is at his best when he lays out his personal process for perfecting the art of reinvention.

What I love most about Altucher’s book is that he’s not afraid to go down the rabbit hole when he encounters a question he feels will benefit his readers. He chases down the answers to his readers’ common fears and objections, explains what he’s learned from other entrepreneurs he’s interviewed, and provides tools to master the skill of reinvention.

 

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run-your-business

5 Tax Tips Entrepreneurs Can’t Do Without

As entrepreneurs, we wear multiple hats in our business—we are the visionary, technician and manager—all rolled into one. Although we might be playing many roles, our key responsibility is to make sure our business has a solid financial foundation. And an important part of that foundation, that is often overlooked, is getting a handle on our business taxes.

As a financial planner, I work with many small business owners who have questions and concerns about their taxes. From listening to their stories and trying to help them, I’ve learned some of the key challenges facing businesses today. Here are my five tips for entrepreneurs as we enter tax season.

Hire a tax professional

When you start a business, you will likely have to take on multiple expenses, and make decisions about whether to invest in a product or service right away—or wait until your business is more established. One expense you don’t want to skimp on is hiring a tax professional. A common mistake is waiting until tax season to hire someone. There is a difference between professionals who just prepare your taxes, and those who actively engage in conversation with you throughout the year. I recommend hiring a tax professional who will be your collaborator. Among other services, tax professionals can help you determine what form of corporation best matches your business expenses and answer questions each quarter.

Don’t mix personal and business expenses

Start your business off on the right track by opening a business checking and savings account so that you can keep your personal and business expenses separate. This will save you time at the end of the year when you organize and report your expenses. Most importantly, you will be prepared for the worst-case scenario. If a client sues, and your personal and business assets are commingled, your personal assets could become attached to the lawsuit.

Keep good records

Most entrepreneurs do not know which expenses are tax deductible and which aren’t, which is why it’s important to keep meticulous records of all expenses throughout the year. During your tax preparation, your tax professional may ask you questions that could uncover new areas where you can save on taxes specifically available for your type of business.

Save to a retirement account

Many entrepreneurs leverage their business expenses as the primary method of lowering their taxable income, sometimes to the extent that they show almost no income for the year. If you are among those spending frivolously at year-end, consider opening and investing in a retirement account instead. The best retirement account for your business will depend on the structure of your company and number of employees. The goal is to save money while also reducing your taxable income.

Set aside money for taxes

There are not many guarantees in life, but paying taxes is one of them. Make sure to keep up with quarterly tax payments, and be prepared to pay anything that you might have missed in April. A good guideline to follow: put 25 cents of every dollar you earn into a savings account. You won’t be caught off guard by additional taxes, and any money left over accrues in a savings account.

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