As a founder, you’ve been told your job is to tell a great story. You’ve got to win over customers, employees, investors. Your vision for how your business will change the world or at least become a billion dollar venture has to be compelling and convincing. The emphasis on your pitch is so loud and consuming, you might be tempted to think your pitch *is* the business.
Your business is what is true right now. If you’re lucky and work hard, it might evolve into the vision you are pitching. But there is a delta between where you are today and where you want to go. Of course there is – you’re a startup.
I like to call the pitch the flash bang dazzle. No one wants to hear in your pitch that your product crashed three times last week, you’re struggling to close three sales, and that you’ve got less than a month’s runway left.
So you flash bang dazzle them. You tell the story of what could be true in the future, the shiny perfect version of your business. You talk about the impressive market opportunity, the massive market size, the potential revenue a year from now. You drop the names of the investors on your cap table or how much money you’ve raised.
And to be honest, this mostly works. I see smart professionals across the startup industry buy the flash bang dazzle every day. They hear your pitch, get emotionally invested in your success, and turn that feeling into a rationale for why you will be successful.
It’s how you play the game. And I think you should win over as many people as you need using a great pitch.
But don’t flash bang dazzle yourself. Don’t believe your own hype. Because at the end of the day, your pitch isn’t your business. Your business is a machine that creates value for customers in return for revenue. Your actual job isn’t to dazzle people. It’s to create value. And the process for creating something out of nothing isn’t magic. It’s work. It’s discipline. It’s taking a hunch and running experiments and iterating until you’ve evolved the business into something that consistently, repeatable, scalably creates value for customers and generates revenue.
And for what it’s worth, if you get the opportunity to get a Fluency Score on your company, you’ll find that it measures the actual business, not the flash bang dazzle. It’s the fastest way for you to check your own thinking about what has been sufficiently de-risked in the market with customers and where you and your team need to focus business model development efforts.