Can You Talk Your Way Into $10,000 For Your Business?

The B.E. Elevator Pitch Competition gives you a chance to prove it�but avoid these mistakes

market you’re going to be a part of. Show them you’ve done the research and didn’t just pull the idea out of a hat.

A weak organizational structure: You want to make sure that you have a strong opening—something that will get the judges’ attention right away. From there you should talk about the business, the industry of the business, how you’re going to market the business, and then close it out strong. Marketing is essential. A great idea can only go so far by itself. You should be able to explain what mediums you’re going to use to promote your business and include any possible partnerships.

Rambling on: Get to the point. Be clear and concise and don’t try to memorize everything you’re going to say. Instead, create an outline in your head and just bullet-point the areas you want to hit. It’s okay to ad lib. You should also time yourself because you want to make the most of the two minutes. If you have to take things out, then do so, and avoid unnecessary detail. Your goal is not to create a sales pitch but to hook the audience and judges by explaining how your product or business solves a problem or fills a void.

By not committing these errors, Evans successfully pitched his business before a live audience, including a panel of judges, and won a state-of-the-art laptop computer and other products and services from Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference sponsors. Black Enterprise and conference sponsors have up the ante for the 2010 edition: This year’s winner will receive a $10,000 cash, in addition to other prizes. (Click here for more information, including contest rules.)

“This is one of the largest prizes we’ve ever given to an elevator pitch contestant,” says Robinson.  “In light of the current economic times, where capital can be hard to come by, this is a substantial amount of money to help someone who may be just starting out or is looking to take their business to the next level. It will be interesting to see who comes out and fights for it.”

The first thing you have to do to get your elevator pitch off the ground floor is register for the 2010 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference + Expo hosted by ExxonMobil and submit your entry! Why should you register and submit an elevator pitch? How’s $10,000 in cold hard cash sound? Click on the Events tab at the top of the page, select Entrepreneurs Conference, register for the conference, submit your elevator pitch, then meet us in Atlanta at the Marriott Marquis, May 16-19, and show us that your pitch is on point!

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  • concerned citizen

    Question: Why do we always have to compete with each other like a reality show to get funding and an ear of people who can help. White people have a family gathering, listen without pressure, and put up cash. Black folks should wake up and stop hustling people to sign up for their expo’s (where more money is spent on hotels, rooms, and food than business)

    • I am far from an expert on white people. However, as a veteran business editor and small business expert, I am aware of very few sources of funding that does not involve either competing or qualifying in some way. Our expo is just one element of the larger Entrepreneurs Conference, as is the Elevator Pitch Competition. Only a small percentage of the several thousand attendees who have attended the conference over the past 15 years do so to win financing. The vast majority (many of them repeat attendees) do so to gain contacts, contracts, funding, partnerships and other resources from other attendees, who happen to be entrepreneurs and business owners too. These opportunities to establish contacts and relationships, not food and hotel rooms, are the return on investment that they find to be more than worth the value. For most, it is the only time and place anywhere where they can be around 1,000-plus other people who think just the way they do: with an entrepreneurial mindset. To be in business is to be willing to compete for contacts, resources, information, contracts, customers, employees and yes, funding. That is true regardless of race. Only each entrepreneur can decide for themselves where best to invest their time, money and effort in order to achieve success and make a profit.

    • MAke it happen

      Competition is a good thing. “white” people have business plan competitions all the time. Do you suggest everyone just get a check for $10,000 for their idea from B.E.? Sounds a little weak, and anti American,

    • Jasmyn

      That was–for lack of a better word– an ignorant comment. If it was that easy to get $10,000 (to start a business, buy a house, etc), don’t you think we’d all be entreprenuers? What type of world are you living in where you think people just have that kind of money to give away? It’s not a Black, White or Asian thing, it’s a Business Thing.

  • Tracy

    This is a wonderful venue to network and learn more about starting a business as well as the new technologies. White people do use networking such as going to your local Chamber of Commerce. In addition, networking in speaking with others gives you a ledge from making costly mistakes. Funding is a big part of your business and if you believe in your dream, you should do everything to make it successful/ I do not know if peoople are aware but try to get a loan at a local bankis is difficult right now just look at the news to see how establish business are having a hard timne getting a loan to cover operating expenses. If you can get an investor to believe in you more than 80% of what you are trying to do is done. If you do not want to attend this venue than don’t go. You can go to your local library to read up on the information you need to start a business as well. This is a great opportunity get meet wtih others.

  • Testa

    Internet is a fantastic way to socialize. We have to help us WORLD WIDE first. My point is there’s help out there. Called financial creativity. Borrow from others not from the banks. The interest percentage and payments may be alittle more expensive. You will have that atvantage to make good credit, network, expand and be creative. These will help you if you are: disabled, unemployed, low- income, no credit, low credit a monster. It doesn’t matter. If your that serious be consistant, persistant and help others.

  • I fully support Black Enterprise and how down to earth their campaigns are for growing small business owners like myspace. Alfred even came on my show to inspire biz owners just like me. Thanks again to BE and Im getting my Elevator Pitch ready… Alfred I hope you still have your Couture Magnet from !

  • Patrick Brown

    Are we still comparing ourselves to other races What does race have to do with creativity and the competitive spirit? Unless you have convincing data that statement was inappropriate even for a blog.