Starting a business can be tough. If you are starting a business on a tight budget, it can be even harder. With banks and other financing options tightening up on credit, it can seem an almost impossible to get help. But, there is a very unique way that a new company can get some assistance and that is through business plan competitions.
Many people may not have heard of business plan competitions or think that they only take place in college-level economic classes. Not so. Several states, organizations, and even corporations hold these competitions regularly to help new entrepreneurs who have good ideas but not the resources to bring their ideas to fruition. There may be one for your business, too!
The key word to keep in mind here is “competition”. Like any contest, there are rules that have to be followed. Here are some tips to help you make the best impression once you find a venue to enter.
All business plan competitions have a primary mission or goal. Make sure that your business idea fits into what they are looking for. If your idea does not match what they are looking for, keep searching for one that does. Keep your plan simple and to the point. Don’t wander about with too many ideas as this can make you look like you haven’t thought things through. Stay with your strongest idea and spend time explaining its growth opportunity.
It is always a good idea to see who has won the same competition in the past. You may be able to contact that business and ask for some pointers. You might be surprised at how helpful a past winner can be. If the competition you want to enter has no past history, do some research and find competitions that were similar.
Keep in mind that even if you do not win the big prize (whatever that may be), you will often get feedback from industry experts concerning your proposal or your idea. This insight from experts can be invaluable and is often worth the time and effort that you put into your entry.
A couple of examples of business plan competitions follow just to give you a sense of what they are:
- Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest: The mission of this contest is to encourage various entrepreneurs in the formation of high-tech businesses in Wisconsin. The contest is run by the Wisconsin Technology Council, as well as long list business partners. The Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest will engage its contestants in a six-month process; this process includes mentoring as well as valuable comments and feedback from judges on those plans that are selected.
- Women in Business Challenge 2013: This contest is open to women entrepreneurs who are from emerging countries. Contestants must have created a viable business plan, and the plan must meet eligibility and evaluation criteria. Created in 2009, Women in Business is well known for having provided finance, support, and coaching to more than 600 women. To take part in this contest, female entrepreneurs must submit a for-profit business plan. In addition, they should require financial assistance of $10,000 to $1,000,000 during the next 3 years. And, the business should have a positive impact on their society or local environment.
These are just two of the many business plan competitions that are being hosted right now. Why not see if there is one for your idea?