Five reasons to enter the Business Plan Challenge

 

ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

You have three weeks left to participate in the 2013 Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge. If you are on the fence about whether to enter, here are five reasons to get moving:

1. Motivation. You’ve been meaning to write a business plan — this might just be that kick in the pants. Or perhaps you have a plan but need to refine your short version — those are in vogue this year. Whether you are entering the Community Track, open to all of South Florida, the FIU Track open to students and alumni of that university, or the High School Track, entering the Challenge will help you get moving.

To help you out, we are hosting a free Business Plan Bootcamp on Tuesday, Feb. 26, presented by Challenge judge Melissa Krinzman and other judges. Find out more and register for the Bootcamp here, which will be held at Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Camps. FIU’s Pino Center is offering a free Webinar on Friday, Feb. 22, at 11 a.m.- noon hosted by FIU Track judge and investor Ricardo Weisz called Perfect Your Pitch for the Challenge. Though aimed at FIU Track entrants, the webinar should offer tips helpful to all. Register for the FIU webinar here.

2. Publicity. If you are one of the top three winners in each track or the “People’s Pick,” you will be profiled in a special section announcing the winners. If you are in the top six in the Community or FIU Tracks, you will participate in the People’s Pick, our video contest hosted on MiamiHerald.com that attracted 18,000 votes last year. We also announce our first cut, the semi-finalists, to keep the interest going. Social networking is a key component of our contest.

3. Feedback and education. I will share feedback from the judges with you if you request it, whether or not you are a finalist. If you are chosen for the aforementioned People’s Pick contest, that’s a terrific opportunity to polish your elevator pitch.

4. Exposure and connections. It can’t hurt to have your plan read by South Florida’s top entrepreneurial experts, including serial entreprenuers and investors (judges’ bios are on MiamiHerald.com/challenge). Sometimes long-lasting mentorships are developed. Some winners have been introduced to investors or potential partners; others gained key customers. If you are one of the winners, you will also be honored at a luncheon with the judges and business staff and at FIU’s Hall of Fame reception. FIU’s Pino Global Entrepreneurship Center is our sponsor.

5. Pride. I know you’re passionate about your concept — and aren’t you just a wee-bit competitive?

The deadline is March 11. Contest rules are on MiamiHerald.com/challenge.

Need more reasons? If you are entering the FIU track, this video by judge John Fleming of Biztegra Partners offers a judge’s perspective on why you should enter and provides advice on preparing an effective entry and this video by former FIU Track winner Frankie Coletto of PassTheNotes offers a participant’s perspective.

If you entered last year and weren’t one of the top three winners, regroup and try again. Business ideas in the dream stage are fine for this contest. Class projects are welcome, and we love high school entries. Questions? Email ndahlberg@MiamiHerald.com.

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