Friday, April 10, 2009

Entrepreneurs: Your Words Have Power

Two young dropouts from Stanford went to see an angel. Investor, that is. He listened to them and looked into their eyes. Ten minutes into their presentation he stood up, apologized for having to run, and asked if one hundred thousand dollars was enough. Google was on its way.
My name is Mike Barr. I've been coaching business people for many years. What I've seen is that if you understand your audiences and yourself, your words will have power.

As you have heard in this space before, people invest in people. Malcolm Forbes said he invested in three things: management, management and management. He too would glance at the business plan with its hockey stick projections and then he'd look at the presenter and ask a lot of questions.

How would you come across in front of a busy, savvy, skeptical investor who has given you maybe ten minutes to deliver your pitch?
  • Are you as good as your business plan?
  • Are your PowerPoint charts stealing your thunder?
  • Do investors see you - your credibility, your smarts, your emotions?
As a coach, I listen to entrepreneurs as if I had a checkbook in my hand. I listen to them from various balanced perspectives: those of customers, investors, potential recruits, and the press. And I give them feedback to make sure they see their strengths and challenges as these audiences see them.

I tailor my feedback to them. I encourage them, and I bring out the best in them: confidence, power, and persuasion. I help them bring their business plan to life. The Johnson Brothers started a company on one word: purity. Steve Jobs and his partner started a company that would give power to the people. Ben and Jerry made an ice cream named Cherry Garcia. Ray Kroc turned the burger joint into a global experience.

A few memorable words can become your startup's signature:
  • Nike: "Just do it!"

  • "BMW. The Ultimate Driving Machine."

  • L'Oreal: "because I'm worth it."

  • Volvo: "A car to believe in"
What are your key words? How do you deliver them? What is their impact? I believe that if your business plan comes alive through your energy, enthusiasm, hard work and creativity, your startup will soar, attract investment and delight customers.

The more it is built around how others see it, the more credible it is. And the stronger you and your words become.

Mike Barr

Today’s article is written by the newest member of our Startup Professionals team, Michael A. Barr. His expertise in executive coaching is just one of a long list of business and academic credentials he brings to the table. Check him out on our website. You will be hearing more from him. We have a lot to learn.

Marty Zwilling



  1. Nice article Marty.

    There are some important points in here - particuarly for me as I gear up my current project.


  2. I am so glad to hear someone say that it is the entrepreneur that gets invested in......not only the product.

  3. Sam: We look forward to your project. Keep us posted!

  4. Sarah!

    I love the word "entreprenette." That is original and catchy. I've never seen it before. You start off with your story - and it is a good one. Your site is very inviting: you create interest quickly and effectively. If I were an "angel" I certainly would invest in you.

  5. Thank you for your articles- you're helping me become more clear in what I need to do, and some of the hurdles I need to asking for help. I'm in the beginning stages of launching a new business that combines my jewelry design expertise, gemstone knowledge and a desire to help people in need. I've been afraid that I needed to have everything set up before I could talk to potential investors...but if they're investing in me and my passion, then maybe the order of things should change.