This article is brought to you by the AVEENO® Skin Health Start Up Accelerator. Filled with helpful resources, this entrepreneurial hub is part of AVEENO’s commitment to creating a more diverse and inclusive industry to impact the health and beauty of all skin.

Do you have an idea, product or vision that you want to bring to fruition? If you’re an entrepreneur, having a great pitch is key to taking your business to the next level.

ESSENCE is teaming up with AVEENO® to launch the AVEENO® SKIN HEALTH STARTUP ACCELERATOR, a pitch competition for Black female entrepreneurs to pitch their body care, facial care or haircare product or brand that blends science and nature to address the skincare or haircare needs of all consumers. One winner will receive $100,000 from AVEENO® and ongoing mentorship opportunities from AVEENO® business leaders, industry experts and Essence!

Before the big competition in February, now is the time to perfect your pitch. Here are our top 10 do’s and don’ts for building a winning pitch:

DO be passionate. Don’t be afraid to let your love for your product and brand shine through—your passion is contagious and will ignite your audience.

DON’T wait. If you’ve got something big to say, like crazy-good sales numbers or possible partnerships, don’t wait to tell them—go for the wow factor at the beginning of your presentation.

DO state a problem. Instantly engage the people you are presenting to by telling a compelling story that addresses a problem or unmet need in the marketplace.

DO share your solution. Tell them what’s unique about your product, brand, or business and how you can solve the problem you have set up for them. 

DON’T generalize. Instead of saying how the world can benefit from your awesome business, explain how it will be a game-changer for one or two specific groups of people by focusing in on your target market.

DO use analogies. Help your audience make a connection to your business by using relatable references. For example, my business is the Netflix of online beauty products.

DON’T forget the finances. Show your sales projections for a year, three years and five years. Share the steps you plan to take to reach these goals.

DO keep it short. Get your listeners hooked before they tune out with a quick, snappy pitch. Imagine you’re posting an Instagram Story and you only have 15 seconds to get noticed—this activity will help you know your pitch inside and out, even if it takes 30 seconds!

DON’T shrink back. Be confident in yourself and your business. Stand straight, shoulders back and head held high—and if you don’t feel so confident, remember to fake it, you’ll appear fierce even if you’re shaking in your heels.

DO talk up your team. We all want to hear about the people who make it happen, so go ahead and brag about your team—you might find that investors will contribute to a project if they like the crew working on it.

For more expert advice and business tools for entrepreneurs, visit the AVEENO® SKIN HEALTH STARTUP ACCELERATOR. Click here to learn more.