We’ve all heard them – the words that make us cringe. Worse than that, I can tell a few lines into a business plan (offering document, etc) that the related company doesn’t “get it” (oh, and, don’t use quotation marks like I just did – too cute). The below words don’t sell your story and may end up doing the exact opposite.
1. “Next big thing”. Please, someone give me a dollar for every time I’ve seen or heard that one and I’m retiring. Proof on that is in the numbers: show me traction in building your business and I’ll see it. I’ve known people that built the next big thing and they were always too busy working (and scared of competition) to boast along the way.
2. “Bigger than Facebook”. Or Google. Or pick your company. Please never compare yourself to or value yourself off the best winning companies. Ideas are comparatively easy; implementation requires real work.
3. “Game changer”. Life (or business) isn’t a game. I don’t know what this means.
4. “Guaranteed”. Then why are you sharing the opportunity?
5. “Paradigm shift”. Again, I don’t know what this means or why it matters. Proof on this one is in the implementation. Paradigm shift was the PC or browser. You?
6. “Next level” (or “next generation”). Is that necessary?
7. “Unique”. Not a big offender in my book but I’m probably in the minority. Everything and nothing is unique. The word is overused.
8. “Unparalleled”. Um, no.
9. “Ad supported”. Only? So, I heard that in the late ‘90’s and I’m hearing it now. What changed (other than Google is the rare company to make it work well)?
10. “Viral marketing”. Works wonders in the gaming world but where else today? Define what you mean but don’t use the term unless you really understand it (at which point I’m okay with it).
11. “Free”. Ouch. Ad supported? Explain to me how that is working not that it will?
12. “Really”, “very” and “a lot”. No.
13. “Opportunity”. No thanks. Opportunity is easy; explanations (and monetization) matter more.
14. “Leader”. To where?
15. “Best” and “top”. Says who? You? No. Prove it; don’t say it (if you were there you wouldn’t need to look for money – it would find you).
16. “Great”. See 15.
17. “Solution”. Okay, if you can walk me through it, I’ll follow it. Otherwise, you aren’t saying much.
Reality: when you are pitching an early-stage opportunity, you are also pitching yourself. If you are talking to quality investors, most of the above words don’t tell them anything about your business. But they do tell the investor something about you – you are prone to exaggeration, to vagueness, to hype, to lack of depth. Those words are setting you back.