Last week (while back east for the holidays), I set up a meeting with a very successful businessman (who I met in 2004). My goal was to pitch him my current business idea.
Here are the steps I took to set up the meeting and make the pitch:
- I emailed and asked for a meeting to discuss an “interesting business idea.”
- Then I got a response. We scheduled the meeting.
- Prior to the meeting, I worked liked crazy to refine a PowerPoint presentation. The PowerPoint followed a standard business plan outline. Once complete, I acted out the presentation about a dozen times. I also visualized how the meeting would go. And I also created and answered sample questions.
- On the morning of the meeting, I dressed to impress. In my car, on the drive there, I rehearsed the meeting. (Yes. I talked to myself). I also prepared a printed copy of the presentation and created a Plan-B just in case the projector malfunctioned.
- When I got to the meeting, I requested that their IT person help me set up the projector. Then I flipped through each slide to made sure the overhead projector worked.
- When the decision maker arrived, I gave a firm handshake and we exchanged some friendly conversation. I asked a lot of questions about his current business. (As an entrepreneurial filmmaker, you must always consider your audience. If your prospective investor manufactures widgets, you should know about his business and then find ways to bend your pitch so that your project may benefit his core business.)
- I then began the PowerPoint. I presented each slide with enthusiasm.
- After the presentation, the prospective investor had questions. (Questions equal interest. Lack of questions equal lack of interest.) Here are some questions: How will this project garner ROI (return on investment)? How long will it take to get the money back? What multiple will this investment potentially return? (If your business idea can not garner a higher return than a savings account, why do business at all?)
- After questions were answered, I ASKED what he would need to move forward. He mentioned that he would need to see how the money would be spent and exactly how I plan on returning it. (I provided a basic overview in my slides, but he wanted more granular detail.)
- I told him I would circle back with more details and provide him with a copy of the business plan.
Some of you may ask why I didn’t take my refined business plan to the meeting. The reason is, getting money for a movie is not the same as selling a car. Since we are talking about a long term business and a lot of other people’s money, I first wanted to gauge his level of interest and see if we could build rapport. I also wanted to find his red flags. And I also wanted to keep him wanting more…
I will address all of his points in the business plan and circle back for the next meeting. I will also ask him if he would kindly introduce me to some of his successful friends.
Why do I share this?
FIRST: Assuming you have met with a lawyer and figured out a way to protect yourself legally -This is important – then here is my question:
If you aren’t afraid to hear the word “NO,” then what is stopping you from setting up a meeting and presenting your ideas to prospective investors?
It doesn’t always mean you’ll get the money (if it were easy, everybody would do it.) – but it does mean that every NO is one no closer to YES!
If you want to find out more about my system for meeting prospective movie investors, check out The Independent Producer’s Guide To Financing Your Movie.