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How To Organize A Business Plan Competition

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Looking for funding or ensuring financial soundness is every entrepreneur’s most tasking process. It is no small matter particularly when you realize that most businesses never ever start or they fail because of financial issues. There are numerous ways in which an entrepreneur can source funding for their business. One of those ways is through participating in business competitions. Such competitions can be put together differently but one of them is a business plan competition. Even that can still be put together in many possible ways. Herein we discuss how one can organize a business plan competition. 

 

What Is A Business Plan Competition?

This is basically a competition in which contestants hand in business plans that are scored based a set of assessed attributes. How they hand them in varies from competition to competition. The scoring list also varies depending on the nature of a competition. Some competition organizers can stipulate that comprehensive business plans be submitted beforehand. 

Shortlisted ones can then actually show up for an event where they pitch their business idea in person. This is just one of the many possible approaches that can be employed. The crux of a business plan competition is to incentivise people to be entrepreneurial through their quest to clinch the prize. Normally the prizes will be in the form of startup capital – something most prospective entrepreneurs are in dire need of. 

Let us now look at things that should be closely considered in organizing a business plan competition:

Have Clear Purpose

The purpose for which the business plan competition is being run should be crystal clear. Do you know that such a competition can be for national economic growth? Another reason can be to strategically catalyse business activity in a certain domain. For instance, calls for submissions or entries can stipulate that it should be a business plan on a horticulture crop. This is a crucial first step – clearly know and define the purpose for which you are holding the competition. Do you know why it is that important? It is through it that you will know who to engage i.e. stakeholders and a wide range of strategic allies, partners and the like. 

 

Come Up With A Working Team – An Organizing Committee

Put together a team that will be instrumental in brainstorming things from the beginning. This is the team that will work on drafting a strategic or work plan. This document is indispensable; it must be drafted! This is the team from which individual tasks and responsibilities will be assigned. This team, depending on the size and complexity of the competition, might in turn select other subcommittees. It is wise to choose resourceful and well-connected individuals for this committee. For instance, if you are to fundraise then have someone with vast experience in that field. Another example could be the competition judges – it would be vital to have a former judge in charge of that. The basic idea is to try to have individuals who have some form of experience for the respective areas that will need attention in putting the competition together. 

 

Publicity Campaigns

You will have to extensively publicise the business plan competition. Depending on the nature of the competition, publicity campaigns can be in phases. There is a need to raise awareness so that interested people enter into the competition. There is also need to raise awareness for other things such as the grand finale event – people will have to attend that. Awareness can also be for those interested businesses that might want to advertise during the duration of the competition. 

The approaches of rolling out publicity campaigns will be so broad and diverse. It is advisable to use both online and offline methods. Having a website, social media platforms, leveraging on TV and radio, doing road shows, press conferences, and so forth are some of them. Basically we are saying you should raise public awareness of the competition using anything from print to electronic media. 

 

Approaches In Conducting The Competition

The first step is obviously calling for submissions or entries. The best way is usually to provide two options namely, submitting or entering using an online platform or visiting some physical location. Ensure that there is that flexibility for prospective participants. It is also important to have a shortlisting process of some sort – even having elimination rounds is great. There must be a way to objectively screen and eliminate participants in a way that brings out true winners. 

You of course have to consider the cost implications. Getting submissions, screening them once and announcing the winners at an exclusive event is definitely a much cheaper option. However, if costs can be managed it would be best to have several stages in the competition. You also have bear in mind that if you use a black box approach people might not trust the process. For instance, if there are elimination stages it would be best to have them in the public eye or to include the public also in making assessments. 

 

The Grand Finale

The culmination of it all should be an exclusive event. There are things to put into consideration for this day to be successful. Let us point here that the needs of this day can be so expensive, from the awards to the venue and other related aspects. From the onset it should be the endeavour of the organizing committee to identify and partner with strategic partners. If all is done well most of the needs of the grand finale must be things provided for mostly by sponsors. 

 

Do Not Forget, There Is Tomorrow…

The success of a competition does not end with the end of the grand finale day. The period that will come after is equally as important. Ensure there is a robust framework that will see it to it that winners are traced and progress is somehow monitored. This is will form a basis for social proofs and testimonials for future competitions. 

 

This is all how you get to organize a business plan competition. These simple and straightforward things we have discussed will work for any type of business plan competition. 

 

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