Depending on how you present your new idea to your boss, you could be facing two very different reactions. If you want to nail that “yes,” you need to treat your pitch seriously—and outline solutions and a clear execution plan. Otherwise, your great idea may not see the light of day. Worse, it might end up on someone else’s to-do list.
With this in mind, we asked nine entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) to share which steps you should take before walking through that door.
1. Reduce the Risk
When you pitch a project, clearly lay out in advance how management should judge its success quickly. What’s the first milestone that will indicate the project is a success? Set a specific goal—10 new customers in the first three months, perhaps. Plan step-wise goals instead of one huge long-term one. That means management just has to invest in the first stage of the project.
2. Prove You Can Handle It
Before pitching your boss on leading a new project, you should be prepared to outline that your existing tasks and projects are in order. You have to show you have the time and resources to lead a new project before your boss will entertain the idea.
3. Come in With a Clear Plan
This seems like a fairly obvious piece of advice, but I find that it’s not very often followed. Especially if you haven’t yet proven your leadership potential, an idea lacking a plan will likely be ignored. However, if you walk in with a polished plan, it will show you’ve put a good deal of thought into the problem, which will help convince your boss you can take charge and lead the project.
4. Prepare to Defend Your Idea
If I’m asked to donate thousands of dollars to a company initiative, be prepared to counter my objections with reasons why we should do this. Ideas need to be able to withstand being knocked down. Be able to fight back.
5. Show Enthusiasm
When it comes to speaking with your manager about leading a project, the most important tip is to be confident. Make sure to show a lot of honest enthusiasm about the project because it will demonstrate that you will be able to galvanize your team to success. Also, back up your enthusiasm with specific ideas on how you will make the project efficient and profitable for the organization.
6. Focus on the Product’s Potential
Make it clear how the project will benefit the company—higher profits, an improved reputation, better contacts, etc. Be ready to answer the question: What sales opportunities will your project lead to? Make sure you can demonstrate how to turn your idea into reality. Discuss the risks, and prepare a viable plan to show you’re committed to the work and invested in its success.
7. Prepare 3 Lists of 3
Bring your supervisor three lists of three items each to pitch a new project idea. The first list should include three reasons why this project would benefit the company, the second three reasons why you’re perfect to lead the project, and the last should be the three obstacles you see getting in your way and how you would handle them. These lists display planning, forward thinking, and ambition!
8. Emphasize Execution
Chances are your boss receives new project ideas daily. Separate yourself from the other pitches by not only offering an impressive value proposition, but by demonstrating how you will get it done. If you can show that the company has bandwidth for the project, that it will make the company better, and that you’ve thought critically about execution, you will set yourself up for success.
9. Create Visual Aids
When you are pitching anyone on anything, don’t underestimate the importance of visual aids. Visual aids are a more powerful communicative tool than anything you could say or write, because they allow your boss to imagine a world in which this already exists. They make your idea real and relatable.