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Richard Branson On Why You Should Never Fear The ‘Big Pitch’

Pitching is an essential skill for every entrepreneur to master. A great pitch can inspire, bring in investment, win customers, and recruit talented people.

With over 50 years in business, I’ve learnt that there is no right or wrong way to deliver a pitch, but the key is to keep things short and simple, and do something that sets you apart.

This concept led to one of the more creative pitches I’ve heard. Throughout the year we host networking events and workshops on Necker Island, and one particularly innovative thinker pitched me the idea of installing an elevator to make on-Island pitching more streamlined and fun.

I love listening to ambitious and enthusiastic entrepreneurs pitch. I hear pitches everywhere I go. I’ve been pitched to while running the London Marathon, cycling the Cape Argus tour in Cape Town, dressed as an air hostess on an Air Asia flight, and in restaurants all over the world. One lady even swam to Necker so she could pitch to me! Talk about standing out from the crowd!

A great way to deliver a memorable pitch is to make yourself visible. In the early stages of business, a visible leader can be a company’s greatest asset. When a business needs to be seen and heard, there is no better person to make it happen than the founder. If an entrepreneur doesn’t openly support their product, others won’t either. A visible leader is a clear demonstration of the passion and work ethic needed to turn the idea into reality.

I was lucky to learn this early on, when we launched Virgin Atlantic. My mentor at the time, Sir Freddie Laker made it clear to me that Virgin Atlantic couldn’t vie with the competition on advertising spend, and that I would need to use myself to raise awareness. This invaluable advice shaped the Virgin story.

I have listened to pitches of all shapes and sizes, and treat each one as an opportunity to hear about the next big thing. While I have been fortunate to recognise a number of great ideas, I have also let a few slip through my fingers – namely Trivial Pursuit! But I have never really dwelled on those that got away, because another important lesson for investors and entrepreneurs alike is, opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming.

While the thought of pitching can be daunting, a well-received pitch can lead you up the path towards great success. I encourage you to hone your skills, and have a go.

Giving aspiring UK entrepreneurs a chance to take their business to the next level, Virgin Media Business, in association with LinkedIn, have launched #VOOM: Pitch to Rich 2015. As the name implies the finalists will receive the opportunity to pitch to yours truly, along with a panel of esteemed business leaders, for the chance to win a £1 million prize fund.

Find out more about Pitch to Rich 2015, and learn about how you can turn your idea into reality.

Originally appeared on: LinkedIn