April 23rd is just around the corner, and the panel of judges is ready to hear and evaluate the presentations of the selected nine finalists. Before diving into the conference room, the contestants may want to reassess the strategy of their Business plan pitch. Below we explain some guidelines that successful entrepreneurs should follow before taking the stage.

1. Clearly and concisely explain what your business is
Entrepreneurs rarely have more than 10-15 minutes to pitch their ideas to potential investors, and the rules are no different in this competition. With only 10 minutes to hook the judges onto your idea, you need to treat them as potential investors and instill in them “a fear of missing out”. This emotion arises when you effectively articulate that there is a problem your company is solving, and that there is an opportunity for money to be made.

2. Prepare for all the potential questions you can think of
It gives a striking first impression when young entrepreneurs can answer even the most difficult question steadily and collectively.

3. Point out your weaknesses
Every business, no matter how well it is thought out, has a weakness. Instead of letting the judges or investors use it against you during Q&A, embrace your weakness and show how you plan to address it in a strategic way.

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4. Explain your growth plan
Aside from having a sustainable business model, explain your plans for growth and expansion in the coming years. We live in a technology driven society that pushes businesses to evolve at a quicker pace than ever before. Investors need to know how exactly will their investment yield return in the long-term.

5. Research each of the judges
Doing your homework on your target audience will allow you to further tailor your pitch. Also, having both their personal and professional information can provide certain insight on how you can better relate to the judges while presenting your idea.

6. Know your numbers
Letting the calculations slide, or briskly touching on the subject is the least effective way to support your pitch. At the end of the day, it is your revenues, expenses, profits, manufacturing costs, and projections that are either going to win your investors over, or cause your pitch to fall apart.

7. Communicate what differentiates you and your business plan from the competition
Very rarely will we ever see something that is completely brand new. It is always going to be new form of delivery or a different angle on an existing service or product. The selling point of your pitch is to capture and highlight the special aspects of your business that set it apart from the rest.

8. Be honest
Trying to deceive your audience on what you may believe to be minor details is a guaranteed path to failure with investors. If you do not have the answer to a particular question, it is always better to be truthful and look unprepared than to knowingly deliver false information.

9. Be confident
There are many ways to communicate ones assertiveness, but nothing surpasses good preparation and practice. Before the competition, practice effective public speaking techniques, using body language and voice inflection. Most importantly, let your personality shine through to your audience!

10. Be appreciative
Regardless of the end result, be appreciative and grateful. Having the opportunity to present your idea to potential high-profile investors can benefit you significantly more than a First Place prize.