Business plan competitions

Understanding business plan competitions

Having a business is a good way to get a firm grasp on becoming financially stable. However, you also need to have certain measures in place before you can get a business up and running. For the most part, what keeps people from engaging in their own business is funding. You can take out business loans to remedy the situation but some lenders are hesitant to help out startups because you don’t have a solid credit history just yet and you have no track record to prove your worth. Good thing there are business plan competitions you can join. A business plan competition is a relatively new kind of funding you can tap into to get your business started and turn that big idea of yours into a reality.

Where it all began

The first business plan competitions were reported to have been held at the University of Texas during the early 1980s. Back then, there were two MBA students from Texas who wanted to come up with an activity for the business school that had the same level of difficulty and prestige as the moot court competitions that the law schools had. There was general hesitation on the part of the business school’s dean but the first business plan competitions were held for a trial run with Texas MBA students only participating in 1984. Called Moot Corp, the business plan competitions reached national level by 1989, with the Texas representatives pitting ideas against representatives from Purdue, Michigan, Carnegie Mellon, Wharton, and Harvard. Australia’s Bond University, France’s Lyon Graduate School of Business, and the London Business School joined in the fray come 1990. Since then, more and more business plan competitions were held worldwide, with many of them receiving sponsorships from leading venture capitalists around the globe.

Business plan competitions today

Eventually, even the venture capitalists decided to venture out and hold their own business plan competition. Since they now have control over the competitions, venture capitalists now have control over what will happen in the competitions, introducing certain rules and regulations to beef up the competition. Some competitions, for instance, are limited to full-time students from undergraduate and undergraduate programs of accredited colleges and universities, while some take the competition to places where it matters, right smack in the middle of the community to help local businesses take root.

The prize

The payoff that participants in business plan competitions will get depends on the competition they are part of. Some will award you with thousands of dollars, enough capital to get your business up and running, while there are those who can take you to the next level and beyond with the kind of support being offered to you. Should you not win the top prize though, you won’t go home a loser because you will still bring with you valuable feedback from investors on just how feasible your business plan is. If you put everything the veterans will tell you to heart and make the necessary changes, you can be looking at the formula that will put your business on the fast track to success. For the investors, it is always a joy to see eager, fresh faces willing to take risks in business. In the same way that investors have something to teach you, you also have a lot to impart to investors. Your fresh ideas are great channels for investors to discover investments to be made. For the participating business schools, a business plan competition is great for drawing in young entrepreneurial minds to join their institution.

So should you join?

If you think that you have an idea worth an investor’s money, then go ahead. However, you don’t have to limit yourself to a business plan competition held by business schools because there are also competitions held by other entities you can take advantage of. Just make sure that, whether you join through a business school or not, you have all the requirements needed. It’s pretty much like joining any kind of competition, after all.

Some things to keep in mind

Make sure you know all the pertinent dates and submit all requirements as soon as possible. You can check online for options because there are sites that collate all business plan competitions in a year. You can also check with your local officials if there are competitions for startup ventures you can be part of. As a general rule though, the more prestigious the competition is, the bigger the prize money you can expect. However, the competition will also be more cut-throat because you will be competing with undeniably the best of the best. You might even be competing with participants from other countries because the business plan competition you are interested in is that prestigious. If you do get in, be prepared to deliver the presentation that could change your life and the life of others.

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