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

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

2009 Elevator Contest winner Marcus Evans is congratulated by Black Enterprise Editorial Director Alan Hughes

You’ve got less than a minute to deliver a stellar elevator pitch that will pique a potential investor’s interest in your business.  Tick, tick, tick, tick … How would you react in this situation? Would you be calm, cool, and collected or would you be at a complete loss for words? Unfortunately, too few business people are prepared to deal with such a situation.

“You should always be ready to succinctly discuss your business, because you never know when you’ll get the opportunity to talk to someone who may be able to help you financially or provide you with resources,” says Black Enterprise Small Business Editor Tennille Robinson.

If you’re an aspiring or established entrepreneur who can’t use $10,000, stop reading now. But if the idea of $10,000 gets your attention, you know what to do: Register for the 2010 Entrepreneurs Conference + Expo and enter the 2010 Elevator Pitch Competition. The deadline to enter the contest is Friday, April 30. (Click here to enter the competition.)

So how do you get the most out of this small window of opportunity? Meet Marcus Evans, founder and CEO of Never Forgotten and last year’s winner of the Elevator Pitch Competition at the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference + Expo. Evans, 30, started his Herndon, Virginia-based full-service gravesite care and maintenance company last spring. Evan video-recorded pitch was enough to get him into the finals with four other entrepreneurs. (Click here to see Evans’ video pitch submission.) When they all pitched live before a panel of judges at the 2009 Entrepreneurs Conference in Detroit, Evans came away the winner.

Out of the more than 30 entrepreneurs in last year’s competition, Evans was the last man standing. So what did he do that floated him to the top while some of the other participants couldn’t seem to get any lift? Evans pointed to these slip ups:

Insufficient research: You can’t just say “I have this idea and I think it’s going to work because I’m a smart person.” Anyone can do that! You need to research the industry your company is going to be in and provide some hard numbers in your pitch. An investor really doesn’t care about how much experience you have, they want to know the numbers–how profitable is the product or business? What are the typical numbers? You should also include expected sales and the size and percentage of the

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