Business Plan Competitions: It’s Not About Winning

Full Winner Shot

Most business plan competitions have peanuts as their grand prizes ($5 – $10K), but Entrepreneur argues that the prize isn’t the reason to compete:

In many cases, participation prompts young entrepreneurs to think about their business plans in new ways — a process that can help them refine their message and their brands.

Another benefit: top-tier advice. In many contests — especially those sponsored by business schools — judges and other competition organizers reach out individually to applicant companies both during and after the evaluation stage. That process can often help entrepreneurs establish new contacts and mentors to help grow the business.

This was the case for Erin Lewis, co-founder of Fashion Forward Maternity, a maternity-clothing rental service in Lafayette, Colo. Though her company has won a total of almost $70,000 in five different contests since last November (including second place at the 2012 Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition), she says the people she’s met along the way have had the biggest impact.

“We’ve gotten help and input from so many, and we always come away with new ideas and new things we’ve learned,” says Lewis.

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