The differences between a business plan, pitch deck and an elevator pitch

Over the years we encountered confusions between our startup clients regarding whether they should have a business plan before making a pitch deck or if they need one in the first place. So let’s put it like this, the business plan is your house, the pitch deck is your window that shows the indoor beauty and the elevator pitch is your alley to the house.

First things first, you need all three of these materials prepared when you want to start a business. Before we start to talk about the differences between them, let’s go through some basic information.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a document that contains a detailed description of your business. You will use it as a roadmap for how to structure, run and grow your new business. It is built to store and transmit your plans for the next 1, 3 or 5 years, including the research of the industry,  the competitors. It covers the sales predictions, the marketing strategy and the operational plans.

The document is based on charts, representations of growth and financial strategy, but mainly the information is transmitted through plain text. A common business plan has a length of 10 to 100 pages. As nobody has the patience to go through a 100 pages document you should keep it simple, but well structured.

In the end you are making the business plan for you, to reflect the vision and the direction you are going. After that, the goal of a business plan is to give investors information about your company, to show them how do you plan to use their investment. 

Tip: You should be honest with yourself in your business plan, which is why it’s important to consider challenges and opportunities. If you’ve got a strong idea, let it stand on its merit.



What is a pitch deck?

A pitch deck is a presentation that summarises the business plan and it gives an overview of your company. It is usually made using PowerPoint, Keynote or Prezi as a visual support and used in face-to-face/ online meetings with potential investors, customers, partners or presented in pitch competitions.

The pitch deck contains 10 – 20 slides and should include all the information required, as you may be asked to send it after the presentation. The structure can vary from business to business, but it must include company details, who it serves and why, the size of the market, you added value. 

The goal of the pitch deck is to show investors where you are, where you are going and most important to get a meeting or start a conversation with one about funding you.

If you want to know more about what to put in a pitch deck read

How to create a great pitch deck.

What is an elevator pitch?

As its name says an elevator pitch is a brief description of your business, like a movie trailer, that can be presented during an average elevator ride 10 – 30 seconds. An elevator pitch should be pre – prepared so when the occasion arises you will know exactly what to say.

You can also look at it as a positioning statement. Start with Who do you help, this is also important to set for yourself. Now they are listening to you so you continue with what you help them with.

The elevator pitch can be used in other situations, such as job fairs, networking events, your LinkedIn bio. It is a great way to introduce you to people that you meet as a conversion starter.

The goal of this speech is to be short and spark interest to your elevator ride so they want to know more about your business.

Focus your elevator pitch around “ We are X and we help Y to do Z “

What are the differences?

Basically all three of them have the same content, but it’s a matter of details. You start with the business plan that has everything about the business, then make a more compact version for the pitch deck and finally you create an elevator pitch that has the essence of your business.


The link between the business plan, the pitch deck and the elevator pitch

We talked about the differences, but now let’s see what is the connection between these three. 

As we know the pitch deck and the business plan include mostly the same section and while the business plan is more detailed, the pitch deck offers high level information on some sections ( problem, solution, product, market, team). We can consider the pitch deck a visual summary of the business plan.

The elevator pitch is used without an additional support, but when presenting a pitch deck the first information has the role of an elevator pitch, to catch the attention of the investors for the rest of the presentation. You open the pitch deck presentation with the elevator pitch.

Looking at the big picture we can see that the elevator pitch is included in the pitch deck, which in his turn is included in the business plan.

Download a Free Guide to design your pitch deck

We recommend having all of them prepared. For the business plan you can use all kinds of templates and platforms to build one or having a consultant working with you. The pitch deck should be made with a pitch deck designer as it needs to be compelling, but there are also a lot of tips for how to create one. And for the elevator pitch follow a structure that puts your advantages in the spotlight.  

Hope this helped you to have a clear perspective about what is a business plan, a pitch deck, an elevator pitch, when to use them and what are the differences between them. 

If you already decided that you need to have an stunning design for your pitch deck we are here to make that for you.

Need help designing or structuring your next presentation?

Our team can help with everything from research, to creating your presentation flow, writing the content, designing and building your slides.

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