Planning, Startups, Stories


Tim Berry on business planning, starting and growing your business, and having a life in the meantime.

Elevator Speech Part 2: Why You?

In my post yesterday Elevator Speech Part 1: the Market Story I suggested that all business owners should be able to describe their businesses well in a single measured minute. The formal elevator speech is a reference to grad-level business plan contests, but I say it’s a good exercise for all business owners. What do you say when the person sitting next to you asks about your business? What do you say at a conference, or a local event, when your business comes up? Elevator Speech

So the first part of it tells the market story. I recommended personalizing your target by giving it a name, a personality, and a readily identifiable want or need. In the next part of your elevator speech, you address the ‘why you’ question. Why your business? What’s special about you that makes your offering or solution interesting to your target market?

This is where you bring in your background, your core competence, your track record, your management team, or whatever. For example:

  • We live and breath small business and social media. We know what it takes to get noticed in social media. And we know how it feels to run a small business.
  • We’ve been the leader in our space for more than 10 years. We have a team of dedicated developers who believe in what we do.
  • We’ve been dealing with this problem ourselves for years. We developed our own in-house solution because we couldn’t find any vendor who did it right.
  • Our founder, Chef Soandso, has dedicated herself to this kind of cooking for her whole career.

What we focus on here, in this second segment of the elevator speech, is core competence and differentiation. And, in the classic elevator speech, you have to say it fast. You make your point quickly and go on.

Make sure your point is the right point: benefits to the target customer. It’s not what’s great about you, but rather, what about you lends credibility to your ability to meet the need and solve the problem.

You might also think of this as the classic “what do you bring to the party?” question. It’s not just your brilliance or good looks or great track record, it’s fostering credibility for solving the problem.

  Its members grab the phone and call. “I need more casual stuff for the golf course, or cargo pants for hiking, or two more slack and sports coat combinations.”