Last week we started the conversation on financing your dream business by using the bootstrap method. We are huge fans of financing your business this way but we also realize that this is not the route every business owner wants to go. As in our first article on the subject matter of finance, we are going to outline all the options you have.
Next on the list is writing your way to financing your dreams by business or elevator competition. This route reminds us of when we were in high school vying for the prestigious scholarships for college. Yes you can write your way into garnering funds for your small business.
First let us define what a Business Plan is before we get to the competition portion of this article.
A business plan is a formal statement of a set of business goals, the reasons they are believed attainable, and the plan for reaching those goals. It may also contain background information about the organization or team attempting to reach those goals.
What is a business plan competition exactly then?
It is an event on either a local or national level where an individual or a team can submit their plan to a committee of judges. There are a variety of requirements to enter these competitions. After getting past the entry process each person or team is evaluated based on a list of criteria set by the competition.
If you want to take this course for financing your business you must first write a business plan. Nowadays most creative business owners skip over this formal step or only have short 1-3 page plan. This will not suffice for a business plan competition. If you need help with actually writing your plan we recommend going to bplans.com or purchasing the following books to help you:
After you have written your plan it’s time to niche it down and find your first competition to enter. This is when BPC (Biz Plan Competitions) comes into the picture to help. Their sole purpose is to help source information about business plan competitions around the country. Please be mindful to give yourself time do not just jump right into this. Practice and get confident about speaking about your product or service. Have a friend fire questions at you for practice.
BPC have a database full of information that can be narrowed down for you specific needs. Our suggestion is to start on the local level. If you live in a city with a small population, we understand and move your search a couple counties over. A plethora of towns offer them. The prize value will not be as big as the Miller Lite or HBS Venture competition but they do offer you the chance to get your feet wet.
In addition to sourcing local opportunities, make sure you have paired down your focus on specific types of competition. This is not just because they might yield less entries or something of that nature, but for the purpose of being around those in your industry. If you do not win the first time, at least you’ve gotten the chance of making connections with others that could foster even greater relationships for your business. You never know who you will meet during a business gathering and you should use the opportunity to network.
You must know your information all the way through. The story you convey about your business plus the numbers must align or it is not going to be a right fit. Be very honest about your business. So many people think a little fib will get them further it won’t, it will actually hurt you. So what if you are only at 10,000 sites right now and you are only breaking even with your finances. That truth is better than some fairy tale. Smoke and mirrors will not help you win. Knowing your information, having a game plan and being ready will.
These competitions have grown on wider scales in the last couple of years. You have to be very knowledgeable. Entering them is not for everyone or every business. Do your research to see what the right fit for you is regarding financing your business.
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