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Check These 14 Boxes and You Have the Complete Pitch Deck Among the worst mistakes you can make pitching investors is not anticipating the fundamental questions they will want answered.

By Murray Newlands Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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I see a lot of pitch decks in my work as an advisor to an IOT fund. Some are very good and some are truly horrible. For entrepreneurs, presenting a pitch deck to investors is just part of the grind of early business: you have to do it, and you'll probably have to do it many times. However, it's also a key step to getting funded.

A pitch deck is not merely an introduction to your product or service, it's an explanation for why your company deserves a necessary place in the startup landscape, a demonstration of your business acumen, a gauge of how well you know your product and your target market, and a view into how realistic your projections are for your company's success.

To stand out from the stream of pitches investors see every day, and to establish yourself as a seasoned entrepreneur, here are 15 things you must include in your pitch deck:

1. Cover page.

Include personal contact information, logo, business name, and a catchy tagline. This helps establish your branding early.

2. Elevator pitch.

Briefly summarize your unique selling proposition, your goal, and reasons why your company is compelling. Do not use clichés investors have heard a million times. Keep it short and light (no longer than a 30-second elevator ride), and make it memorable.

3. Describe the problem.

Why this is a problem worth addressing? Outline how this problem affects a large group of people, and demonstrate why solving it is a worthy investment.

Related: How Investors Choose Startups to Finance

4. Propose a solution.

Explain why your product or service is the best solution to this problem. Include a demo, if available. Beware of making grand sweeping overstatements about the impact your company has to an industry that you can't back up.

5. Competition.

Bring up other companies that are trying to supply solutions for the same or a similar problem that your company addresses.

6. Market opportunity.

Describe what makes you different from the competition, whether it's a hidden opportunity, a developing market trend, or a related need that nobody has exploited yet.

7. Revenue model.

Describe your business plan: outline your target market, present statistics that illustrate this demographic as a viable market, and demonstrate the breadth of customers who are currently either subscribed for your product or service, or already using it.

8. Go-to-market strategy.

Describe the practical strategy you have in place for your revenue model, addressing key factors including what your product portfolio should look like for target customers, the proposed cost of your product or service, and how and where you will market and promote your product to your target market.

Related: 13 Tips on How to Deliver a Pitch Investors Simply Can't Turn Down

9. Team.

Outline your key players, and include their specializations, experience, and role within the team. the team and company culture VCs factor considering your company very strongly into their decisions to invest, so try to be more personable during this portion. Pitch with confidence. VC's need to believe that you will make build a great company.

10. Stage of development.

Describe where you are in your development: what your product currently looks like, your efforts and results in customer acquisition, and whether you have any established professional partners.

11. Press mentions and accolades.

Show where you have been mentioned in the press, as well as any awards, grants or certificates your team has earned.

12. Critical risks and challenges.

Address every obstacle and stumbling block you can foresee that your company will have to overcome to reach your goals. This is not to plant any fears into the hearts of potential investors (or yourself), but to show others you are realistic about your projections for the company.

13. Exit options.

Describe possible long-term exit strategies -- after all, investors want to see a return on their investment. Describe other similar companies that have been bought out for ample sums of money in the past, outline likely future buyers of your company and calculate the investor's potential return on investment.

14. Financing sources and projections.

Create a financial framework that works with your vision for your company, and be realistic about your projections. The numbers must match the story you're telling, so make sure your capital requirements you've described match the amount that you're asking. Find out how many customers you need for the revenue you're projecting and what resources will be required to support your customers. Also outline how you've been raising money so far. VCs take well to people who put in their own money.

Your pitch deck will likely serve as the first impression an investor has of your business. Make it informative and memorable – and remember to follow up afterwards!

Related: Raising Money? Kick High When Pitching Venture Capitalists.

Murray Newlands

Entrepreneur, business advisor and online-marketing professional

Murray Newlands is an entrepreneur, investor, business advisor and speaker. He is the founder of ChattyPeople.com chatbot builder tool and Sighted.com. Read his blog MurrayNewlands.com.

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