Image by Leia via Flickr
Conservative. Conservative like an American Flag tattoo? Or another kind of conservative? That's what one wonders when they hear forecasts described as conservative which are based upon multiple assumptions including many outside the speaker's control.
The critical C word in a Venture Capital pitch is credibility. Any other words that serve or might undermine credibility are to be avoided strenuously. And almost no word so powerfully undermines credibility like conservative.
No forecast should ever be described proactively as conservative. After the fact, if you want to call it that you could -- but even then -- why would you? Much better to say, "yeah, it was a tall hill to climb, but we really made it happen, this is a strong group." Doesn't that sound better than "it was conservative, don't go thinking we are a great team or anything, we just set low goals".
So how should one cultivate investment interest while building credibility? Speak to a range of outcomes. Talk about what will drive revenue, the associated risks, critical tasks, special skills and execution oriented focus that will allow your team to achieve various revenue outcomes. Given the venue, one might speak to these possibilities, use of funds and how invested capital will be used to drive revenue. For every 20 times, I've heard someone say conservative in a pitch -- I've heard Return on Investment once. Venture Capitalists are an ROI crowd.
You're talking to a room that is determining your credibility and skills at using capital to drive progress. And by progress, we mean revenue. Don't kill belief in both your credibility and skills by unnecessarily characterizing something as conservative.