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Don’t be afraid of business owners - be afraid for them

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Don’t be afraid of business owners – be afraid for them

Because the stakes are so high, people are naturally nervous presenting to business owners. But this fear will only work against you and broadcast your lack of confidence. So, adopt a different mindset: be afraid for them. Presenting to your peers is relatively easy – if you mess-up, they’ll usually let it slide. But business owners and executives are different. These people get things done through delegating to other people. So, they are always looking for who they can trust – and who they can’t.

Make a good impression and they are likely to give you more responsibility in the future. Make a bad impression and you earn a place on their “do-not-trust” list. Either way, it affects your career. This group of people are a special audience for presentations and the stakes are high.

Here are 4 great tips to keep in mind to ace this next presentation:

1. Get to the point in one minute (60 seconds)

Executives exist in high-pressure environments. With 60-80 hour weeks, emergencies cropping up, high stress loads and demanding bosses and more – Time is one of their most precious commodities – Get to the point as quickly as you can. Within the first minute, if at all possible.

2. Talk about problems winning in the marketplace

Business owners don’t care about today’s problems, that’s someone else’s job. They have their minds focused on the next three years and what it will take to beat competitors, reach new customers, hold onto existing customers and increase margins. So, talk to them about the problems they will have winning in the marketplace, and how your ideas will help them.

3. Sell a vision before discussing the details

This is especially true for sales people. Don’t walk into a meeting and start talking about your (…fill in the blank). Business people will immediately focus on cost and product features, often ending the meeting with “We’ll get back to you” so they can have someone research prices.

Instead, focus on painting a vision of a better future – hopefully one that maps onto their three-year goals. Once they’re nodding at the vision – and only after they’re nodding at the vision – should you talk about your product’s details. Cost is likely to be less of a concern now.

4. Lead with stories, not data

These folks respect data and making data-driven decisions. But they are also realistic about what data can – and cannot – tell you. They’ve seen many projects fail despite the glowing research results. They have seen boot-strap projects succeed despite the lack of any data to back it up.

These people often trust their guts more than they trust data. They consider customer stories, quotes from their largest channel partners and competitor moves just as valid as data. So use that! Come to these presentations armed with lots of stories and introduce stories first, then the data to back it up.

Remember that business owners have power, but also more responsibility and more things that can go wrong.  Think about how your proposal could help to allay their biggest fears. There’s a lot more to presenting to owners, but you can remember one or more of these points, you will do well!


Keith Thorn, LLC
On Point Business Solutions – Working Smarter, Not Harder® Apps


  1. Keith,

    Interesting post. Thank you.

    For what it's worth, the best line – "Don’t be afraid of business owners; be afraid for them " came at the end. It was the one that had me most intrigued to hear more. I hope you'll consider another post on that concept.



  2. I always think if we find one thing, we have found something valuable! I appreciate your comments and look forward to posting again with a new thought to share …


  3. The superb highly informative blog I’m about to share this with all my

  4. It’s my first time to visit this site & I’m really surprised to see such impressive stuff out there.

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