Cheap Words

February 1, 2008 – 11:49 pm by RM Crill

I review a lot of investor pitches. While my reviews have many commonalities, I find that too often entrepreneurs opt for easy statements to which I’ve referred as “cheap”. Cheap words can be used by anyone. We’ve all seen them:

  • We have a world-class team
  • The market is huge
  • This is a high margin business
  • Our competitive position is excellent

These statements could be made by anyone, by any company. One of our PMs is known for her snarky sayings and lately came out “disruptive is the new black”. Disruptive is another cheap word and it’s easy to use.

Sure, we all like to be able to summarize and that’s fine. But these phrases don’t belong on your slides. Here’s some alternatives we’ve seen:

  • Our exec team has worked in project management for over five years together
  • The Total Addressable Market is $1.2BN in the US
  • Our gross margin last year was 74% and is expected to grow to 87% in the next two years
  • Ours is the only project planning product that uses statistics to infer confidence ranges for project completion

Cheap and easy statements lack names and numbers. They’re brief and not memorable. Business plans are also magnets for such phrases, adding non-caloric filler (credit to Grid founder Jeff Payne for that phrase) and little else. Get out the red ink and cut them away, replacing where possible with meaningful data.

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