This is one of my favorite exercises for entrepreneurs. In nearly every single case, this simple exercise will help improve just about any kind of introduction for a business (it works for salespeople too).

I call this, the “First Question Test.” The First Question Test works around what the name implies – the FIRST question someone asks you after you introduce your business. Whatever that FIRST question is, tells you what you are NOT explaining well about your business.

Here is an example:

A: So, tell me about your business.
B: We are a locally based company dealing plastic widgets globally. We are really proud to have some of the bigger players in the industry as our clients such as Advantage Corporation, Accelerate Media, and Accent Incorporated.
A: So, what do you do in your dealings?
B: We manufacture and distribute.

The widget introduction did not give enough information about what their company actually does with the widgets. That first question indicated that the introduction was not enough for the listener to fully grasp the concept. The word “dealings” was vague.  The listener had to ask a question to clarify the business in their mind.

What the business owner should do now is incorporate that piece of information into his intro:

B: We are a locally based company that manufactures and distributes plastic widgets globally. We are really proud to have some of the bigger players in the industry as our clients such as Advantage Corporation, Accelerate Media, and Accent Incorporated. Are you familiar with the industry?

While this is a simple example, it shows the value of that first question.  You want your listener to get it instantly. They should not have to work to understand your business. And it is your job, and YOUR JOB ALONE, to make sure that they get it. In the same way that it is a painter’s job to put the colors and shapes on a canvas in a way that allows you to recognize the picture as a tree. You have the same job painting a picture of your business. Perfect your color palate and your brush strokes with this simple method.

So, take your own introduction – no matter how long you have been using it – and put it to the First Question Test. See what the FIRST question people ask is. Then incorporate that answer into your next introduction and put it to another First Question Test. After 5-10 rounds of this, your business description will be tighter, more succinct, and ultimately – more intriguing!

Another fun way to use this is to ask someone ELSE about their business and see what THEY are not including in their introduction. Or better yet, if you are in a group of three or more, ask someone to tell someone else about their business and watch the interaction.

Especially if you have employees in your business, be SURE to watch them tell someone else (preferably who is not familiar with the business) about the business and see what kinds of questions THEY get. You can not only help to improve your own message, but the message others are sending out into the marketplace on your behalf.

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Entrepreneurship, Pitching Your Idea