Entering a Business Plan Competition? – Here’s What You Need to Know

Across the country, Universities host a variety of business plan competitions for students.  If you play your cards right, you can WIN!

I consider myself to be experienced in the realm of business plan competitions.  I myself have entered into and won third place in a competition.

So, here is the advice I have if you are planning to enter into a business plan competition:

Read the Guidelines

Every business plan competition will have guidelines for entry.  Some may require you to submit a summary of your business idea, fill out an application, or post a video.  Be sure to read and complete everything that is required, so that you are not disqualified.

Write, Write, Write

The most important part of a business plan competition is to write the plan!  When I say write the plan, I mean you need to manage your time so that you are able to make it the one that stands out.  To do this you need to start early, research, and get it done a few weeks in advance.  You don’t want to be rushing to get your plan done.  Getting it done a bit early also gives you more time to prepare for the presentation segment of the competition (if it is a requirement).

Get Advice

Find someone who has experience writing business plans.  You can usually find a professor on campus that can give you valuable advice.  When you find someone to give you advice, be sure they are giving you constructive criticism.  The worst advice you can get from someone readying your plan is, “it looks good”.  You need some real advice! Like this “sentence sounds off” or “you need to reorganize your sections”.  There is never going to be a time when you are getting too much advice! Trust me, it’s better to get more than one opinion on your plan and presentation.

Pitch it Hard, Pitch it Fast

If you are required to do a presentation along with your plan you need to prepare.  The most important thing to remember is that you should not present everything in your plan! More than likely you will be presenting in front of a panel of business professionals, so you want to wow them with your idea; not bore them with all the numbers.  Most presentations give you a time limit.  Be sure to keep to that time limit.  I suggest that if you have 10 minutes to present you keep it to 8 minutes.

Make it Fun

Personally, I believe the most important thing to do is make the competition fun!  When you are writing about something you are passionate about, you can’t help but have fun.  At least that’s how it was when I was in the business plan competition.  I developed a plan on a business that I was interested in and I actually enjoyed putting my ideas on paper.

With all this in mind, I want to wish you Good Luck!

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