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This story originally appeared on The Vertical

For many international entrepreneurs planning to move their businesses to the U.S. or simply file for a visa extension, these are uncertain times. Consular posts are closed around the world and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have temporarily suspended in-person green card and naturalization interviews. As some domestic offices begin to reopen, USCIS will reduce the number of appointments to ensure social distancing.

Are opportunities still available?

Foreign entrepreneurs come to the U.S. on many different visas, including the EB-5 immigrant investor program, the L-1 for intracompany executive transferees, the E-2 treaty investor visa,  the O-1 visa for people with extraordinary abilities and many others.

All of these visa categories have different requirements, like hiring employees or renting an office space. Because of COVID-19, many foreign entrepreneurs planning “a big move” haven’t been able to make further investments.

Others, however, feel the window of opportunity has widened. According to Jason Finkelman, an immigration attorney, startups in robotics or those providing solutions in real estate move fast to meet U.S. demand.

In June, USCIS re-introduced premium processing, which is widely used by foreign entrepreneurs. The service, suspended in March, expedites the  process to a mere 15 business days instead of the usual months-long process.  

Related: How Company Builders Create Long-Term Value in Latin America

Immigration not suspended

“Trump’s executive order temporarily ‘suspending immigration’ has contributed to the perception that ‘immigration is closed,’” said Joshua Goldstein, founder at Goldstein Immigration Lawyers. But USCIS is still processing new applications.

“We submitted an O-1 visa application in early March just after USCIS discontinued premium processing,” Goldstein said. “I told my client to expect a decision in about six-to-eight months. To my astonishment, his visa application was approved in 23 days.”

Applying for a visa is harder for applicants outside of the U.S. because consulates are shut down and in-person interviews have been delayed. New applicants are getting pushed down the line, leading to longer wait times.

“We are monitoring the situation every day,” said Jordana Hart, the managing attorney with the law firm Hart & Associates. “The consulates will open depending on the situation in their countries: Mexico City, for example, could stay closed longer then Paris.”

Scrutinized questioning  

Processing times had already increased in the past three years. “Whether you have a cure for cancer or are working on a coronavirus vaccine, it’s just harder to get a visa because the President wants to limit immigration,” said Jason Finkelman.

Although entrepreneurs are the least affected because they are job creators, they also have to deal with extra scrutiny. People on E-2 investor visas who have to travel back and forth for their business report more “questioning” about the time they spend outside of the U.S. “We pay extra attention when justifying our clients’ trips,” said Jordana Hart.

The calls to restrict immigration might get louder because of the looming economic recession, believes Henry Mascia, partner at Rivkin Radler law firm. “Officers are now treating extensions like first time applications, so the renewal process, for example, for an O-1 visa, is increasingly difficult.”

Related: Local Partnerships Will Be Crucial Amidst International Travel Restrictions

What’s next for international entrepreneurs?

The election in November adds additional uncertainty to immigration prospects. But there is some good news: An EB-1 extraordinary ability green card is now “current,” meaning it has no backlog and no wait time. “We are preparing green card cases for clients on O-1 who would have otherwise expected to wait several years,” said Joshua Goldstein.

Margo Charnysheva, chair of the immigration practice group at Fennemore Craig, recommends that entrepreneurs not leave if they are currently in the U.S. on a B-1/B2 tourist visa. “Instead, try to change your status to avoid a prolonged wait for an interview at the embassies, because they won’t schedule interviews until mid-June.”

The key in the strict immigration environment is to show that your business has an ability to grow and create jobs. “We push our clients to hire American workers,” said Jordana Hart. Also, preparing your application in advance is crucial. “In the face of so much chaos, you should be proactive,” Joshua Goldstein said. “Don’t wait for the pandemic to end.”



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Fossil hunter Clayton Phipps explains a career pivot 65 million years in the making.

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1 min read

We talk about adapting and pivoting your business all of the time at Entrepreneur, and this week’s Get a Real Job guest pulled off a pivot that I believe is the granddaddy of them all. It is 65 million years in the making.

Clayton Phipps was born into the cattle ranching business, and in 2003 discovered a dinosaur fossil on his family’s land. He went on to discover one of the most famous fossils ever, known as the Dueling Dinosaurs, which is the remains of two dinosaurs that were locked in mortal combat when they were instantly buried.

Related: Scientists Say They Can Recreate Living Dinosaurs Within the Next 5 Years

These days, Clayton, along with his 12-year-old son, Luke, and a small team of fossil experts, explores the badlands of Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas, to help ranchers and cowboys uncover valuable dinosaur bones hidden on their land. And it is all captured on Discovery Channel’s new show, Dino Hunters. (Episodes can be seen on Fridays at 9 or on the Discovery GO app.)

Thanks for listening! Here’s a look at Dino Hunters:

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On this episode of ‘Get a Real Job,’ a powerful talk with Jay Williams about battling back from his darkest hour.

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2 min read

Jay Williams was the star point guard on Duke’s 2001 NCAA Championship team and was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2002 NBA draft for the Chicago Bulls. 

Then a horrific motorcycle accident ended his playing career in the blink of an eye. Jay was lost. He felt that his life had no meaning. But through years of hard work and determination, he managed to pick himself back up. Jay is now an ESPN host, he’s running The Boardroom, a sports biz and lifestyle platform, alongside Kevin Durant and Rich Kleiman, he’s a best-selling author, a motivational speaker, and most importantly, he’s here.

Now, as heavy as that all sounds — and it is — fans of Jay know that he’s also quite hilarious, and in our conversation on this week’s episode of Get a Real Job (subscribe here), he is as funny as he is insightful. If you’ve faced hardships big or small, you’re going to want to listen to Jay’s inspiring, no b.s. take on overcoming your darkest moments. Thanks for listening!

P.S. This is Jay’s point of view of the ridiculous microphone setup we discussed on the show:


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Whether you are in search of a single advisor or building an advisory board, different professionals can strategically elevate your business. Right now just might be the time to find them.

6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Building a high growth company, innovating new products and raising money is a challenge under any circumstances. But with a crashing economy and businesses in a holding pattern, accelerating your startup in these unprecedented times is an especially isolating uphill climb for founders. The bright side is that CEOs do not have to face all difficult decisions alone. Now is an optimal time to reach out to advisors or secure new ones.   

Related: How to Provide Investor Updates the Right Way

An expertly selected advisor or a curated advisory board can help navigate early-stage companies through the unknown. Industry leaders, academics and repeat entrepreneurs alike might be looking to dive into new opportunities and avail their services to founders as the nation reopens. This is the moment to re-evaluate the next steps and determine what tactical offensive actions you can take. The challenges we are facing now present a business-defining opportunity to target and assemble a dream advisory board.

The goal

No one has all the answers, even if this is not your first attempt at being a founder. An advisor can offer an independent perspective and impartial guidance. They can provide access and reach to resources, serve as a test customer or salesperson, be a cheerleader and at other times serve as an unbiased critic. A well-chosen advisor will guide you through your industry and all its hurdles and nuances. As seasoned professionals, they not only know how to avoid the pitfalls but also can help broaden your vision to look beyond the short term horizon. Connecting with a well-matched advisor with aligned incentives will put you in a better position to set and execute your goals.

To encourage an advisor to help you along your path, you should be able to clearly define what you want from this relationship. While the advisor is neither a co-founder nor an employee, they must be on board with your aspirations. What are your greatest concerns for your startup, and how do you envision your advisor guiding you? Did they work with previous advisees? Does their method match your style and/or your needs? And remember, even though your advisor is an expert, they are not a mind reader. Communication is key. Let your advisor know when and where you need help and how they can assist you in navigating through the roughest waters.

Related: How the Behavior of Job-Seekers Has Changed Since February (Infographic)

What to look for

Whether you are in search of a single advisor or building an advisory board, different professionals can strategically elevate your business: 

  1. Industry leaders – An executive with a big name in your vertical whose legacy and reputation are impeccable can be an excellent resource for an early-stage founder. This kind of advisor can open doors to top industry talent, first customers, strategic partnerships, etc. Recently retired industry experts are ideal, as they come without complicated conflicts of interest.
  2. Academics – If your industry is in a highly specialized field, an academic advisor can lend confidence by serving as a development partner. Technical advisor support can range from evaluating your tech stack from a different perspective, to assisting in the creation of your product.
  3. Repeat entrepreneurs – This type of advisor has the practical hands-on experience critical to helping a similar business grow. Repeat entrepreneurs who have both failed and succeeded, and who have learned how to pivot and rebound, are ideal advisors. From fundraising, go-to-market, building teams and landing and expanding customers, successful repeat entrepreneurs have experienced this process first-hand and will support you in the difficult times and champion you in the good ones.
  4. Ecosystem personalities – Famous, big personalities established in the ecosystem can help promote your brand and create confidence with customers. They can help you attain a positive reputation before your product even hits the market, positioning you for success.

Although you want an advisor who has experience in the area of your startup, you do not want someone with similar skill sets. Your advisor should offer knowledge or expertise that complements and expands upon your own. They can provide an added perspective while building the product or service as well as add clout to your introduction into the industry. This is especially key for emerging first-time founders.

Related: How the Crisis is Changing Consumer Behavior, and How Entrepreneurs Can Act on It

Making connections

Although every founder has different needs and expectations from their advisory board, one point remains the same: You want advisors who have experience in your field. Here are some recommendations for making those connections:

  • Create your ideal list of advisors and research all lines for warm introductions. This could come from the network you have already begun to establish and from the networks of your investors who can help facilitate those connections.
  • Be active in (virtual) events around your industry. Seek out other founders who can provide you with insights on advisors. Get to know people. Build friendships and working relationships to expand your network and reach.
  • After you have worked your existing connections, consider making cold introductions. Although you might question the success rate of this approach, given our current work-from-home situation, these leaders might have more time and interest in emerging startup opportunities. Do not be afraid to reach out to the big personalities and famous names in your field. They might just say yes.
  • Think creatively and take bold steps to foster new relationships. Host a webinar and ask a prospective advisor to join as a panelist or co-host, invite an industry leader to co-author an article with you or join in on a social media campaign.

Always keep in mind that this activity is also a selling proposition, and make it clear what is unique about this opportunity at your startup and what you are offering in exchange for their guidance.

Related: The Recovery Brings the Unique Opportunity to Shift Societal Norms

Why now is the right time to team up with an advisor

Founders must figure out how to go forward with their business operations and develop strategies on how to adapt to variable conditions. Leaders with 20-plus years of experience who have successfully weathered the dot com bubble burst and the past financial crisis can offer their learnings to ground you through all of the unknown hurdles ahead.

Although the world continues to cope with the health crisis and its impact, that is not going to be the case forever. Soon enough, the world will move forward. Right now you have a window to reach out to potential advisors, especially industry leaders and academics who may have a lull in their time commitments. With little-to-no travel happening, with conferences and large meetings canceled or virtual, and with university openings in an uncertain state, they might welcome a new opportunity to help founders develop an offensive strategy for a resurgence. Teaming up with an advisor now will help you get the ball rolling progressively toward our post-crisis world.


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4 min read

Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

These days, no business can reach its fullest potential without the help of technology, at least to some degree. Fortunately, technology doesn’t have to be expensive.

We’ve rounded up some of the top business apps on the market, all of which are on sale today. Here’s how it works: if you spend $50 or more total, you can enter code JULYFOURTH15 to take an extra 15 percent off the already-discounted prices below. Spend more than $75? Enter code JULYFOURTH20 to save 20 percent off.

1. LingvaNex Translator: Lifetime Subscription – $64 (83 percent off) with promo code: JULYFOURTH20

A #1 Product of the Day on Product Hunt, LingvaNex Translator goes well beyond Google Translate. This innovative platform lets you easily translate media in more than 112 languages instantly. Whether you’re trying to expand your business operations overseas or you want to communicate better with potential partners, LingvaNex has you covered. It can translate text, voice, images, websites, and documents in just moments.

2. JumpStory™ Authentic Stock Photography: Lifetime Membership – $80 (96 percent off) with promo code: JULYFOURTH20

Stock photography is essential for building practically any type of business and its corresponding website. However, it can get expensive. With JumpStory™, you get unlimited, commercial-free access to more than 25 million stock photos, videos, illustrations, vectors, and icons.

3. fesh. eCommerce Shop Builder Standard Plan: Lifetime Subscription – $50.15 (97 percent off) with promo code: JULYFOURTH15

Launching an ecommerce business gets pricey fast, especially with the fees associated with platforms like Shopify or Etsy. With fesh, you can build your own ecommerce store from the ground up for a fraction of the price. fesh makes it easy to design your store, populate it with products, and accept payments online to streamline your ecommerce operations.

4. MasterBundle: Lifetime Subscription – $58.65 (80 percent off) with promo code: JULYFOURTH15

MasterBundle is the design bundle for entrepreneurs with little to no design experience. This comprehensive kit comes with more than 100 web templates, 1,000 graphic designs and logos, 50 WordPress themes and plugins, and much more. The MasterBundle has verything you need to build a fully custom, optimized business website.

5. Sellfy Online Store Builder: Starter Plan – $51 (77 percent off) with promo code: JULYFOURTH15

You can build a store for physical or digital products in just a few minutes with help from Sellfy. This powerful, intuitive tool has all the necessary components to sell products online and grow your business efficiently. With 0% transaction fees, Sellfy makes it easy and affordable to set up a store and sell up to $10,000 in merchandise every year.

6. WordPress Portal for Business – $79.20 (92 percent off) with with promo code: JULYFOURTH20

Operating a business is hard without some help from technology. WordPress Portal offers a project management and accounting solution in a single WordPress plugin. With WordPress Portal, you create a new directory to your front-end website where you can use multiple roles to manage your site more effectively and streamline operations.

7. Zuitte 50+ Tools for Entrepreneurs: Lifetime Subscription – $159.20 (98 percent off) with with promo code: JULYFOURTH20

There’s no limit to software and plugins entrepreneurs can use to help them grow their businesses. That’s why Zuitte offers you more than 50 tools in a single package. From data analysis and competitor research tools to social media automation and much, much more, Zuitte has you covered in all aspects of your business.

8. SurfShark VPN: 4-Yr Subscription – $79.20 (82 percent off) with with promo code: JULYFOURTH20

If you’re working with sensitive or proprietary information, it’s imperative to protect it at all costs. SurfShark VPN helps you do that by securing your WiFi with AES-256-GCM encryption. You’ll get access to more than 1,200 servers in 61 countries around the world, plus unlimited data and bandwidth on unlimited devices, an ad blocker, and top-tier security features like IPv6 leak protection, and a zero-knowledge DNS.

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8 min read

Ever misplace your car keys? Forrest Galante might be the guy you want to call.

The biologist and adventurer has carved out a very unique niche for himself in the world of conservation: He scours the most remote and dangerous parts of the world in search of animals long thought to be extinct, in an effort to (almost) literally bring them back from the dead. As crazy as that sounds, what’s crazier is how successful he’s been. As of today, he and his team have discovered four species that biologists believed went the way of the dinosaurs.

Galante goes on these quests for two main reasons:

  1. He has a lifelong love for wildlife.
  2. His historic finds result in mountains of research and funding to study and revitalize these forgotten species.

If it doesn’t sound like the easiest job on the planet, it’s because it is not. In the course of his travels, he’s been attacked by lions, stung by jellyfish, bitten by snakes and had run-ins with not-so-happy hippos. Luckily for people who love animals and the relative safety of their couches, Galante’s bloody and bruising adventures are all captured on his show Extinct or Alive, which airs Wednesdays on Animal Planet. His Instagram account is also worth a follow if you’re into amazing nature photos and the occasional video of skinny-dipping in glacier water. 

I spoke with Galante for the first episode of Entrepreneur’s new podcast series Get a Real Job, which you can listen to now:

We discussed following personal passions, getting comfortable with risk, the vital importance of teamwork and which animal you definitely don’t want to cross paths with while walking down a dark alleyway. Here are some of the highlights of that conversation, which have been edited here for length and clarity.

Don’t accept a life of boredom

“I went to a good university for biology, and when I came out, I was kind of farting around taking tons of odd jobs,” Galante says. “Everything from literally counting ants to doing invasive weed work to looking at eagles’ nests. I was bored by a lot of the work, so I started adopting this reputation for high-risk wildlife biology. I was the guy that would tag rattlesnakes or would jump into a shark feeding frenzy to put on tags. 

“As my career continued, my bosses said, ‘You’re such a good biologist, let’s get you out of the field and into an office writing grants and overseeing projects.’ I kept telling them I’d rather be back in the field. They were like, ‘Well, you’re gonna make $14 an hour out there.’ I said that’s fine. I prefer that sitting in an office.”

Finding your platform

“One day I was sitting on the couch, super deflated and covered in dirt, not happy with the job I was doing. And my wife suggested thinking about media, going into television. Fast forward a bit and I’ll give you a comparison: When I was 27 years old, I published my first academic paper. It was read by 400 by likeminded scientists who already knew the exact subject matter I wrote about. And that was a pretty good number for a paper.

“The first episode of my TV show? It reached 4 million people. So you tell me which is more impactful in the field of conservation. When I saw those TV ratings, I said this is what I’m going to do.”

His most meaningful find (so far)

“Finding the Fernandina giant tortoise, which was thought to have gone extinct over 100 years ago, was the biggest for me. Fernandina Island is an active volcano in the Galapagos. It’s miserably hot, and you’re walking through five-foot shards of what feels like glass, but is actually brittle lava rock. My team and I were suffering from heatstroke and our boots were literally melting on the ground. I mean, it was brutal conditions.

“And after just four days of really, really challenging fieldwork, we managed to uncover a single female tortoise, an animal that had been lost for 114 years. To do it in the Galapagos, where Charles Darwin founded his theory of evolution, was just so impactful. We were able to raise so much money for a return effort to try and find a mate for her. It’s just the most hope-inspiring success story for wildlife that I think anybody’s ever heard.”

Hippos don’t hug

“There’s always a risk of getting injured by wildlife. By far the most terrifying and the most dangerous animal is the hippopotamus. They are very moody and very unpredictable. I had two altercations with hippos that could have resulted very differently. One, a hippo flipped my canoe over and I got very lucky to escape its jaws. Another charged right out at me coming from a small, shallow pool. They’re just they’re extremely dangerous animals. I love them, I respect them, but they are super scary.”

Building your team

“I have to always give credit to my team. We’re generally a crew of about six. I’m 31 and the oldest person on my team. So they’re all young, super talented guys who are just as passionate about what they do as I am about what I do. And we all have our own specialties.

“My lead cameramen was an environmentalist in college, but he picked up a camera as a way to communicate wildlife to the world. Another one is this mad, crazy, amazing drone engineer. He takes these drones and adds all of these special bells and whistles to help us track wildlife. And then another guy is an incredible free-diver. He can keep up with me at 100 feet while we’re holding our breath and chasing sharks around.

“We’re all driven by this common goal of communicating wildlife and conservation. And just because I’m the one in front of the camera and I’m the one who finds the tortoise, it doesn’t mean we didn’t do it together.”

Credit: Animal Planet

Planning and improvising

“I think a big part of being successful in doing these expeditions and being a team leader is being dynamic and able to improvise. We do extensive research and always go in with a written plan of attack, like ‘When we get on the ground, we’re going to get on this boat, we’re going to go this many miles up the river, we’re going to survey this area for this many days.’ And then the first thing that happens: we get there and there’s no boat.

It’s not like you throw in the towel, throw your hands up and the trip is over, you know? You say, ‘Okay, how do we get about there? We need a buggy. It’s going to take three days. That’s fine. We’ll stay here for three days and interview locals to see if they’ve seen the animal and get more intel.'”

You can make a difference in your own backyard

“If you want to help with conservation efforts, you can do meaningful, impactful, essential work by volunteering at a local wildlife shelter, by going to a rescue facility, or by simply not buying plastic bags. Little things make a huge impact. So you don’t have to travel around the world and get mauled by lions and bitten by sharks and all the crappy stuff that happened to me to make an impact. 

“If you pick up the phone and call your local adoption shelter and say, ‘Hey, I want to help,’ they will be thrilled to have you. They are desperate for helping hands. And it’s a snowball effect, you save one creature, and it makes you want to do more good. You know, you save one little opossum that crawled out of its roadkill mother’s pouch and you see it go back in the wild — you feel so fulfilled and inspired. All of a sudden you find yourself loving these ugly marsupial rat opossums that we all think are so gross. It’s an amazing feeling to have.”

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Once mastered, it’s a powerful tool for your arsenal of skills.

4 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In business, it can seem sensible to say “yes” to as many requests as you can, because it’s a way to look like a team player who’s up to any task. But sometimes, saying “no” and declining a request can be the absolute best thing to do for your business. If you see the following signs, you can feel pretty confident that you can take a pass and not feel bad about it:

1. Not enough time

Taking care of everything that comes across your desk can provide a reassuring sense of competence and accomplishment, and it’s never a smart idea to let good opportunities fizzle. But the reality is you’ll reach a point where you simply cannot squeeze more into your calendar without sacrificing something. If you’re so buried in meetings, phone calls, emails and neverending to-do lists that you can’t give the new request the 110 percent it deserves, then feel free to say no in favor of your original priorities, especially if you’ve got an important deadline around the corner.

Related: 4 Things That Most Entrepreneurs Never Have Enough Time For

2. Not enough money

If the past few months have taught us anything, it’s that smart business leaders need to have enough capital to cover themselves in emergencies — which they should spend strategically based on clearly outlined priorities. (Looking at you, Adam Neumann and Kevin Plank.) Look carefully at your objectives, and if a request threatens the budget for those priorities, be clear about your financial limitations rather than pretending that the money for everything will magically appear.

3. Better alternatives

Just because you get a request doesn’t mean an offer that better suits your vision isn’t already on the table or will be in the future. You don’t want to sell a venture for $5 million, for instance, if another buyer offers you $10 million. Consider if any proposals might save time, money or both and have clear requirements that have to be met before you’ll look at a request more seriously.

It all comes down to the ROI

Saying no without regret boils down to looking at the three points above as a checklist to determine your return on investment. Because your biggest job is to help your company grow and succeed, ask the person making the request to present a professional business case that demonstrates what you’ll get back from accepting their proposal. For instance, how will completing their task be worth the time and money you put into it? How will it benefit the company, its shareholders, customers, employees or culture?

As a quick example, let’s say someone on your team asks you to get food catered in every week at a cost of about $2,000 a month. That cost might seem too high to you until the employee informs you that:

  • 60 percent of employees say free food is one of their favorite office perks.

  • 90 percent of employers believe providing food and snacks helps create team bonds.

  • The benefits of eating healthy include improved mood and memory.

  • It could reduce time spent “going out to lunch.”

  • Waste can be easily minimized by surveying employee preferences.

Here, the increase in productivity that comes from making the team feel happier and more connected might easily justify the $2,000 a month you’ll spend. You can use specific KPIs to verify that people are in fact working better and improving your bottom line due to the catering.

Related: Your Employee Advocacy Program: Measuring the Right KPIs

The bottom line

Every request has a potential cost and return. Both good leadership and life satisfaction occur when you think logically about those costs and what they might yield. And when you learn to say no, to requests that don’t merit the cost, you by default also learn to say yes to the things that will truly help you thrive. Remember to consider your time, money and alternatives when someone approaches you with a request, and you’ll always find clarity about which answer to give.


Business Achievement Awards

12 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You are more than likely familiar with Entrepreneur’s popular show “Elevator Pitch,” in which entrepreneurs pitch their company to a board of investors during a 60-second elevator ride. If the investors like the pitch, the elevator doors open and the entrepreneur is invited into the board room to potentially make a deal.

This show’s premise is of course inspired by concept that people in business have embraced for decades now: that a truly good idea can be summed up in the span of an elevator ride.

But this poses a significant dilemma. As an entrepreneur, you’ve likely been toiling away at your idea for some time, possibly even years. How are you supposed to cram all of the value you’ve created in so little time? And if you’re making a pitch in order to attract investments, how can you describe your work in a compelling way, while demonstrating viability in the marketplace, while asking for capital?

You may be surprised to find out that there is a way you can craft your elevator pitch to not only create greater interest in your product or service, but actually give people chills in under twenty seconds.

Related: Here’s What It’s Like to Be on ‘Elevator Pitch’

How people usually do elevator pitches

Among those who put thought into their elevator pitches, there tends to be two basic formulas:

Formula A: Introduce oneself and the name of the company, then describe the product or service in the context of the customer or industry’s pain point. Then, at the end, make the ask.

Formula B: Identify the pain point before introducing oneself and the name of the company. Then describe the product or service, followed by the ask.

While I’m adamant that the only hard and fast rule of communication is that there are no hard and fast rules, I favor Formula B. People are most likely to embrace a solution when it’s provided within the context of a problem they care about solving. By starting with a pain point, the entrepreneur is speaking to what an uninformed audience cares about right away thus making sure that the first thing their audience hears is has intrinsic value to them. This helps the audience become immediately invested in solving the problem, which helps the entrepreneur to build some momentum.

What further helps with this momentum is identifying a hole in the marketplace. Sometimes this hole is defined by a new need as dictated by circumstance (e.g. the invention and commercialization of the Internet led to a sudden need for accessing it), while other times it’s defined by the inadequacy of existing solutions (e.g. introducing broadband Internet connectivity as a superior alternative to dial-up). Still other times the hole is defined by a problem that the audience doesn’t actually know they have (e.g. how to access the Internet without wires when the marketplace was introduced to Wi-Fi).

What all of these different holes have in common, however, is that they are highlighting the typical solutions that don’t work — or that don’t work as well. This helps the entrepreneur to build momentum because it highlights why the pain point is as powerful as it is — why it’s seemingly so hard to make that pain go away.  

However, there is one ingredient that nearly every entrepreneur overlooks. It can redefine not only elevator pitches, but presentations, speeches, webinars, articles, and even books.

And this ingredient can make your captive audience in that elevator get chills in twenty seconds or less.

Related: Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch Season 4 Episode 1: ‘You Attacked Me!’

An example from an unlikely source

You may remember the 2011 film Moneyball, starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill. Based on a true story, Pitt plays the general manager of the Oakland Athletics in 2002. His and Hill’s characters implement a fundamentally different approach to building a Major League Baseball team, and eventually win twenty games in a row, the most consecutive wins in the American League at that time. What is perhaps most significant about their season, though, is how they tied the New York Yankees for the most wins in the American League with a roster that cost a small fraction of the New York roster.

Toward the beginning of the film, Hill gives a little speech to Pitt that can be considered an elevator pitch of sorts — he has a short amount of time to capture Pitt’s attention.

Hill explains to Pitt that there is an “epidemic failure” in how the leaders in most Major League teams manage their teams. He explains that by filling their rosters with expensive star players, they are fundamentally misunderstanding what it takes to have a winning ball club.

Where the conversation becomes interesting, though, is that he then describes this flawed approach as baseball clubs’ desire to buy players. He states that the point shouldn’t be to buy players, the point should be to buy wins. And to get wins one needs to get runs.

He doesn’t take a half-hour, an hour, or even longer to explain a complex system of economics and baseball so as to make sure that Pitt’s character is as informed about this approach as possible.

Instead, he distills the approach down to a single nugget of truth:

Baseball teams will win not when they buy players, but when they buy runs.

This distilled, essential truth is what I call a “silver bullet” — a statement that conveys the whole of a solution, idea, or innovation in a single, power-packed sentence.

Silver bullets throughout history

Notably, silver bullets have shown up throughout history for thousands of years. Arguably, the most memorable passage in Sun Tzu’s The Art of War is line 18 of the first chapter: “All of warfare is deception.” If you were to look up Aristotle on sites like Brainy Quote or Good Reads, you will notice that a large portion of his most famous quotes are silver bullets. This includes quotes such as “The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but rather their inward significance.”

We can cite modern examples as well. Some of the most highlighted passages in Kindle editions of non-fiction books are silver bullets. This includes what author Ed Catmull writes in his New York Times bestselling book Creativity Inc.: “Getting the team right is the necessary precursor to getting the ideas right” which as of this writing has over 7,600 highlights. In his wildly successful book Sapiens, author Yuval Noah Harari writes that “large numbers of strangers can cooperate successfully by believing in common myths,” a silver bullet that as of this writing has over 29,000 highlights.

Further still, silver bullets show up in the most popular TED and TEDx talks. TED speaker Dan Pink once gave a talk on “The puzzle of motivation,” and as of this writing has nearly 26 million views. His silver bullet states that “The secret to high performance isn’t rewards and punishments but that unseen intrinsic drive…the drive to do things cause they matter.” And Simon Sinek’s famous TEDx talk “How great leaders inspire action” as of this writing has over 50 million views and prominently features the silver bullet that “people don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it.”

But what is it that makes a silver bullet what it is? What each of these examples as well as every other one all have in common is that they are each a cause-and-effect sentence: when we take this action, we get this outcome.

When we buy runs, we win the game.

When we deceive our opponent, we win the war.

When we get the team right, we get the ideas right.

When we focus on why, people buy.

This simple device has the impact it has — it is remembered, highlighted, and emphasized — because it does a very important thing.

It empowers the audience without any other context.

It empowers them to suddenly believe in a different possibility.

When someone is suddenly empowered in a way that they weren’t a moment ago, they have an ah-ha moment.

And when someone suddenly has a particularly powerful ah-ha moment, they get chills.

The silver bullet and the elevator pitch

This technique has significant bearing on an elevator pitch, in that it explains to one’s audience why they’re getting the results that they are. They may have succeeded in attracting customers, clients, or followers, but this silver bullet delivers the secret sauce. It explains why that success is there in the first place, and why further success can be scaled.

How can one craft the 20 seconds that will potentially give their listener chills? What many people who learn of this silver bullet concept believe at first is that the more prominent they make their silver bullet the more powerful it will be. In this way, they treat it like a tag line.

But tag lines and silver bullets are two different devices. Tag lines are essentially a promise that brands make so as to attract others as part of a first impression — as conveyed on a product’s package, for example.

A silver bullet, however, is the recipe that makes that promise possible. It’s the secret sauce that makes the solution as valuable as it is, and as established earlier in this article people are most likely to embrace a solution when it’s provided within the context of a problem they care about solving.

Given this importance of context, I recommend the first 20 seconds of an elevator pitch be as follows:

  1. Identify the problem the audience wants to solve, their pain point.
  2. Identify typical solutions, those that leave a hole in the marketplace.
  3. Provide the silver bullet, the reason why this new solution will work when other ones have not.

Then, after creating this flow, the entrepreneur can present their product or service, describe its features and benefits, identify its proof of concept in the marketplace, and, if it’s a formal pitch to investors, whatever the ask may be.

An elevator pitch for a famous brand

Let’s make TikTok into a hypothetical example so as to apply this structure to something tangible. Imagine that you are an executive looking to pitch the platform before its meteoric rise to having 800 million users by the end of 2019. You wish to convince would-be investors, stakeholders, or partners of its potential distinction in the marketplace.

“How would this be different from Vine?” a wary listener might ask. Vine’s service, after all, had been discontinued only a couple of years before TikTok was merged with to become the juggernaut we know today. But with this structure, the speaker might open their elevator pitch as follows:

  1. With so many streams of content available at any given moment, social media apps are struggling to keep users engaged for extended periods of time (the problem).
  2. Other platforms optimize their search algorithms so as to match user intent with content in as precise and aligned a way as possible (typical solutions).
  3. But the fewer decisions users must make, the more likely they are to engage (the silver bullet).

The pitch would then go on to explain the nature of the “for you” algorithm utilized by TikTok, which curates the users experience thus eliminating decision-making as a barrier to further engagement.

Though there would be more to learn to go into business together, this simply expressed idea would plant a seed as to how to actually increase average user engagement.

And if this pitch were to happen after having reached a proof of concept, the speaker would be able to cite the extensive period of time any given user stays on the platform, which for many current users is nearly an hour.

The importance of a single ah-ha moment

The most effective elevator pitches inspire the belief that growth is possible. And many pitches are effective simply because the speaker is able to boast clear indicators of this possibility. They’re able to address a relatable hole in the marketplace and a proof of concept that demonstrates an ability to fill that hole.

But a silver bullet empowers without context. It inspires that ah-ha moment, which in turn inspires chills.

In our fast-paced, cluttered, noisy world, this kind of visceral response is becoming rarer and rarer. We’re numb to so much of what we consume. Therefore, when you inspire this kind of visceral experience in so little time, you will create an undeniable connection between your audience and your content. You will inspire not only deals but views of talks, highlighted passages in ebooks, and other demonstrations of empowerment.

With this empowerment, the user won’t just have a connection to your content, they will have a connection to you as the person who created it.

And that’s when you go from being an entrepreneur to being the face of a movement.

Related: Hold That Door! 7 Rules for an Elevator Pitch.

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Amazing things have happened to many founders as the result of following their intuition. Here are three ways to do it.

6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

I’m just going to say it: I’m a big believer in intuition and energies — especially as a creator. There isn’t an idea I’ve acted on that didn’t come to me first as a vision. I lead from my gut with my career decisions, and so far, that has served me tremendously. It got me thinking about how many other entrepreneurs lead from their intuition as well. Has it served them like it’s served me?

After some fruitful conversations, my suspicions were confirmed: Intuition is a guidepost in career. Sure, we may have facts and data that help us decide whether or not to do things like hire that assistant or quit that job. But there’s something deeper and more implicit that really leads us in the right direction. Just as Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman says that 95 percent of our purchasing decisions are made emotionally with our subconscious mind, it’s likely that most of our decisions involving our career, financials or otherwise are, too. 

Related: 7 Things Deeply Intuitive People Do Differently

Here are a few ways to get started with cultivating a relationship with your own intuition.

1. Practice trusting the “tug”

You have to learn from experience by trusting every time that tug comes up. One of my own stories of intuition-gone-right was last year, when I felt a tremendous tug to speak at a summit in L.A. even though it was the same day as my best friend’s graduation from college. I trusted the tug and met my lash manufacturers in the audience after my talk — an opportunity I had wanted to pursue for years. 

Related: The Secret Skill the ‘Shark Tank’ Stars Rely on to Make Quick Decisions

Some don’t know what exactly this tug is or how to know it’s speaking up. I was recently talking with Dani Evans, model and founder of Monrowe, and she explained what to look for: “However you identify your inner guidance system, it’s created to lead us to the paths of our lives that are carved out specifically for us. It can be as simple as a fleeting thought or gentle nudge, or it can be as strong as the equivalent of an audible voice. It’s a knowing deep within you that’s difficult to explain but accompanied with a quiet assurance.”

2. Learn through reflection

We can also develop a closer relationship with our intuition when things go wrong, too, because it’s all about getting a sense for what internal sensations mean what. For example, another entrepreneur friend of mine, Stephanie Thoma, tells a story in her book Confident Introvert about a time she felt a gut instinct to stay home and not attend an event but forced herself to go anyway, thinking she needed to network as usual. On the way home from the event, she got into a car accident and had to go to the emergency room. In her book she writes, “I thought a lot about the value of life and how we spend our time. If that were the last night of my life, would I have wanted to spend it at that event? No. I attended the event for the sake of attending it, valuing quantity over quality. From that point onward, I now make sure to check in with myself about why I am attending something, leading with what feels true to me.” In other words listen to your gut! Don’t go to anything that you feel apathetic about.

Related: Make the Best Decisions for Your Life by Listening to Your Inner Voice

Think through the times in your life that you did listen to your gut and it turned out well, and the inverse of that: when you didn’t, and it didn’t turn out well. You’ll hone this intuition in business. Perhaps when you’re around someone you trust, you feel a sense of warmth in your heart space. And perhaps if you’re making a business decision that isn’t best for the business, a sense of panic starts to kick in. Learn to trust yourself first. 

3. Become okay with ignoring what’s “rational” if your intuition is saying otherwise

Of course, also implicit in trusting intuition is sometimes choosing it over rationale. The tug between mind and heart is a battle we all face from time to time. So, practice being okay with it if your intuition speaks against what seems rational at the time. For example, when I quit my job, it wasn’t necessarily rational. But my gut knew I needed to do it. This seems counterintuitive, because business generally requires rationality, but Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, famously said, “I can tell you that when I have to decide whether or not to go ahead with a new venture, I have often found that intuition is my best guide.”

Aishwarya Balaji, a serial tech entrepreneur and the founder of Imperfect CEO, has a story along similar lines. She told me that when her last startup shut down, she went to Bali for a three-week vacation but felt she shouldn’t leave when the time was up. Rather than making the rational choice to go back home, she ended up staying over three months — and met the founder of the wearable tech healthcare company she now leads product development for. 

Many of us think of intuition as abstract and hard to pinpoint, but we all have it within us. If we can strengthen our relationship with it in relation to our career and businesses, we can tap into a hidden wisdom and trust ourselves more. Amazing things have happened to many founders as the result of following their intuition.

Related: Habits of People Who Trust Their Intuition (Infographic)


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Jim Estill, CEO of Danby Appliances and ShipperBee, talks about the qualities successful entrepreneurs share and how to lead during the current global crisis.

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1 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Jim Estill is the CEO of both Danby Appliances, specializing in refrigeration appliances, and ShipperBee, a package delivery system. Estill talks with #ThePlaybook host David Meltzer about entrepreneurism and charity.

Estill discusses the personality traits that serve entrepreneurs, including nonconformity, high energy and high drive, single-mindedness and a desire to prove naysayers wrong.

Estill also talks about the importance of failure, recommending entrepreneurs fail often, quickly and without too great a financial loss.  

Estill describes his relationship to money and wealth as contrary to the norm, electing to give away anything more than he needs for security and retirement. He directs his charitable giving to organizations that have impact by providing for people’s base needs and by helping level economic inequities to make communities safer for all.

Estill talks about leading during the current pandemic and how he has reassured his employees that the company has their backs.  

Related: Success Doesn’t Happen Overnight

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