Updated: Dec 26, 2021
When I decided to be an entrepreneur, it was sheerly out of the passion of knowing my market because I am my market. I wanted to create a product that would be out-of-this-world that people would love and use. And although this was a great place to begin, that doesn't get anyone too far in their business. Why? Because when you're as evergreen as I was when I first launched, I quickly realized that there was a lot I needed to learn, and fast!
1. Educating Myself On The Funding Process
The first step I needed to take was educating myself on funding because every statistic said, "Good luck, Black woman, but many don't want to see you succeed." Unfortunately, this sentiment doesn't just show up in entrepreneurial spaces but a theme of odds that meets Black women in every aspect of life.
The idea of bootstrapping for non-marginalized groups tends to look a lot different from someone like me, who had no straps, much less any boots, but I persevered. I found myself on Black Girl Ventures' (BGV's) Instagram page, which led me to their website searching for what it looks like to receive much-needed funding.
I recently tuned into BGV's latest pitch competition for New York business owners. And although I have watched every pitch competition BGV has hosted, this one was indeed different. It was different because I'm at a newer stage in my business and a little more knowledgeable in navigating the conversation around what I created and why.
I love watching Black women who are passionate about changing the world, sharing with the world their creations. But I'm always more enamored by the panel that poses questions that make me look deeper at myself, my business, and the finer points of getting to the bag!
One of the more significant points constantly reiterated by watching this pitch competition was "Know your numbers." Before watching BGV pitch competitions, I'd always say, "I'm not a numbers girl." Yet, here I was, having that sentiment thrown in my face. It forced me to learn and affirm I could kiss goodbye any semblance of the success I knew my business could have if I didn't know.
Questions such as:
What is your revenue?
What are your overhead costs?
Why are you asking for this amount versus another?
When you're evergreen, a lot of times, you're just winging it and hoping it comes together. But, I now have a blueprint for what I need to be very cognizant of. I can now hire someone to get me further in the know with the numbers.
2. How Is The Why Connected To Funding
The next thing I recognized was that no matter how passionate the women were about their businesses, the "why" had to make sense when looking for funding. As a journalist, I would always tell my mentees, "If you wrote it, have someone else read it."
If you're doing anything for an audience or consumer and it is only clear to you, but not them, no one will get it. Therefore no one will buy it or invest in it. The BGV panelist made this point extremely clear based on questions they'd ask, alluding to the fact that if they, as investors, couldn't identify the problem being solved, the market, etc., then those points needed to have been fine-tuned.
3. Relax You're Amongst Friends
Lastly, one of the clearest takeaways from the latest BGV pitch competition was to relax! Yes, pitching your business can be highly anxiety-driven. However, when you're in a room with people you know want to see you win because they created the lane for you to do so, take a breath and leave the nerves. Nerves while pitching can make you ramble and stumble to appear as though you don't know your business at all. Finding the balance and taking breaths in between the pitch slides seems to breed effortlessness and the poise of a boss.
Ultimately, I am grateful for what this pitch competition brought me. The ultimate message is: Success is possible when you believe in yourself while extending that belief in being open to learning what you don't know.