Entrepreneurs who want to learn how to win their share of capital as well as gain valuable business relationships, won’t want to miss the Pitch Lab taking place at the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit on Friday, May 6, at the Loews Hotel in Miami. Attendees will get to hear from the Black Enterprise 2015 Elevator Pitch contest winning entrepreneur—Pop-Up Plus Founder & CEO Camille Newman—and a veteran pitch competition judge—Black Enterprise SVP/Executive Editor-At-Large Alfred Edmond Jr—leading the Pitch Lab discussion.
Plenty smart, dedicated, and passionate entrepreneurs with promising viable business ideas have lost out on money due to horrible business pitches. Here’s how not to be one of them says Edmond.
Don’t try to tell your life story. When pitching your business or idea, you are on the clock; you don’t have time to tell the story about of how you got this business idea in a vision from God when you were nine years old. Always lead with the whats, the hows, and the whens: what your business concept is, how it makes money and can grow, and when it will break even and turn a profit. Also, how much money are you asking for, what you plan to use it for, and what results you will achieve as a result. Save the why—your personal motivation—until you are asked.
Focus on what you will do for investors. Heed the wisdom of Black Enterprise Founder Earl Graves Sr.: “Sell to their needs—not from yours.” Focus on how they will profit from their relationship with you—beginning with their getting richer as a result of investing in your idea. Your job is not to show how you will make money and achieve your hopes and dreams with their help, but how they will make money from their investment in you. Like all effective sales efforts, your pitch should be focused on helping investors to answer the all-important question: “What’s in it for me?”
Know your audience. You should know who you are pitching to long before you are in the same room with them trying to talk them into investing in your idea. You should know things like what kinds of businesses they typically invest in, what amounts they tend to invest, and what they typically expect in return. You won’t be able to get all the info you need from an Internet search engine; you’ll have to get to know the small business investment community, and let them get to know you.
Pitching and quitting is a no-no. You enter a business plan or elevator pitch competition, or gain the audience of an angel investor—and you get ripped apart. Maybe stage fright got to you. Or you missed a fatal calculation in your financials. Or maybe the investors just didn’t understand your idea. Unfortunately, failing to get the desired capital investment is enough to cause 99 out of 100 entrepreneurs to never pitch again. This is a costly mistake. What you gain by pitching is often worth much more than the capital infusion you’re seeking.