2010 Entrepreneurs Conference: Get Money!
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

C. Alexander West

There is one thing that the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference + Expo will not be short on and that is potential business owners hoping to find capital to start or grow their business. Everybody thinks their business concept is great, but what does it really take to make an idea a good investment?

C. Alexander West,  a senior business coach at the Kauffman Foundation’s Urban Entrepreneurs Partnership, says there are three things aspiring entrepreneurs need to keep in mind before they approach someone at a conference like this one – or just in general – about investing capital in their business.

Make sure you have fully developed and explored your concept and that it’s marketable. “You’ve got to have a sellable idea that is manifested in a business plan,” says West, a former management professor at Baruch College. “Your plan needs to articulate your concept by showing how the concept is going to be positioned in the minds of the customers, how you are going to generate profits and not revenue. People aren’t interested in revenue. They are interested in profits, because that is how they get paid.”

Invest some of your own money. “Many people come to the table expecting somebody else to finance their dream,” says West. “Since the debacle of 2008 and 2009, banks and lenders are a lot more rigorous about lending money.” West says the best way to show potential investors that you have faith in your business dream is to be financially invested yourself.

Don’t tell an investor your idea outright. Before you give anyone your idea, you should have them sign a non-disclosure agreement. “It is very dangerous to tell somebody your idea, because once you tell it, it is out there,” says West. “Some people are talkers and some people are doers. If you give a doer your idea, the next thing you know, they’re doing it. Especially if they have the resources.” Instead, West advises networking with them now and planning to contact them later. “Most investors have areas of interest and certain metrics they use to evaluate an idea,” says West. Learn what those metrics are, apply them to your business plan, then go back to them with your idea later.”

West was on the Get Money: Financing Your Business panel. Look for more articles titled “2010 Entrepreneurs Conference” and follow @BlackEnterprise on Twitter (#BEEC and #ECC.)

Marcia Wade Talbert is a writer and content producer for BlackEnterprise.com.

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, SocialWayne.com chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining BlackEnterprise.com as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and BlackEnterprise.com helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.

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