The Art of Business Planning for Water Labs: 9 Tips on Mastering the Pitch
Business planning in your water lab is an ongoing process that likely generates a slew of ideas with vastly different budgets. You may be mulling over hiring a tech to handle requests for new testing types, for instance, or considering a marketing campaign to target private well owners. Or you may be weighing whether to attend a water industry conference.
Each of these ideas has merit. But before you can move forward with any of them, you'll need to make a pitch and gain approval. Boost your odds of hearing, "Yes!" to your next business proposal with these nine tips.
1. Position Your Idea as a Solution
The best business ideas are those that solve a problem. Does your lab need to boost its revenue to keep up with rising costs? This particular problem has many possible solutions: you could cut expenses, cross-sell to existing customers, or expand your customer base. Whichever problem you decide to tackle, you'll need to be able to justify why your solution's the best course of action.
2. Be Specific
Ensure your boss or the decision-maker for business planning understands exactly what you want. Do you need approval to recruit a new round of interns? Are you looking to enlist a third-party vendor to help produce training materials? Be clear on what your ask is and what you hope its outcome will be. Be sure to end your presentation by outlining clear next steps for all the parties your proposal will involve.
3. Demonstrate Resources and Rewards
Determine what fiscal and employee resources your idea will call for. If it requires funding, you'll need to show projected calculations. If it involves team members shifting roles, you'll need explain how the workload will be divided and why the change is beneficial. And if you want to hire another team member, show how the forecasted revenue from their contributions will more than cover their salary.
4. Make It Relevant
Relay how your idea will contribute to the lab's mission, goals, and bottom line. Chiefly, lay out the improvements your boss can expect from this initiative. Schedule a follow-up meeting well in advance so you can discuss how your idea impacted operations.
5. Tailor Your Pitch
Research the person you're pitching to so you can tailor your approach to their preferences. Do they like their presentations short and sweet or with all the details? Will they interrupt you or wait to ask questions? While you may not get to cover every nuance of your idea, the more enticing you make it, the more likely it is that your boss will buy in.
6. Radiate Confidence
Don't let nerves sabotage your presentation. If you seem overly uneasy, it could distract your audience from your great idea. You can exude confidence in these meetings by standing up straight, maintaining eye contact with each person for 3 to 5 seconds at a time, and speaking calmly, clearly, and enthusiastically.
7. Be Flexible and Collaborate
Your business planning ideas should minimize risks to the lab. Discuss the small steps you'll take to prove success, but also be open to modifying your plan. Instead of hiring a full-time employee, maybe you can start by bringing on a temp during the busy season. Or instead of going to an expensive conference on the opposite coast, you can head to a smaller one that's nearby. Develop the idea with the person you're presenting to. According to Harvard Business Review, if they feel like a creative collaborator, your odds of hearing "no" drop significantly.
8. Be Ready for Tough Questions
Come prepared with answers to questions your decision-makers are likely to ask and objections they may have. What if there's no budget for a marketing campaign, or it's just too costly to add a new test to your offerings? Satisfy each of these qualms with a reasonable response, keeping the focus on how your idea would bring value to your lab.
9. Thank Your Audience
After you've made your pitch, let your listeners know how grateful you are for their consideration. Even if they don't buy in, they'll likely be more willing to listen to your next idea if they feel their time was appreciated.
Pitching an idea to your lab's decision-makers can be nerve-wracking, but remember, you all share the same goal: to improve business operations. If you confidently relay how your business planning initiatives will benefit the bottom line, getting them approved should be a no-brainer.