Business Plan Challenge: Your last-minute questions answered


Last week for entries!

Challenge entries are due March 11. Your entry is a three-page business plan, and you are allowed one extra supplemental page for charts, photos or diagrams.

Email them to: for the Community Track; for the FIU Track; and for the High School Track.

You should get an automatic response, as well as a response from me within a day, if your entry was received. If you don’t please email me at

If you enter before the last day I will look through your entry to make sure everything is in tact and if not I will give you a chance to resubmit by the deadline. Because of the number of all the last-minute submissions, I can’t do that on March 11.


Good luck!

The March 11 deadline for the Business Plan Challenge is just around the corner. Have a question? Email ndahlberg@

Here are a few questions I received this week:

Q. What do the judges look for in an entry?

A. There is no one way to write a short business plan, but in general judges like to see a succinct description of your product or service as well as what problem in the market your company is solving, the market opportunity and what differentiates it from the competition. They also want to know about your business model — how you will make money — as well as sales and marketing strategy, your team (relevant experience) and a financial summary (how will you fund your venture and what are your startup costs and your revenue projections, for instance.)

It may seem like a tall order for a three-page plan (plus one optional page of supplemental materials is allowed) — but think of it like a meaty executive summary. Many of these sections may be just one paragraph,. make every word count and use a lot of bullet points. Don’t forget to show your passion!

Q: Does a title page count in the three-page limit?

A: No, title pages do not count in the three-page limit (one supplemental page is also allowed). However, they also aren’t necessary as far as we are concerned —- the judges are only concerned with what is inside.

Q: May I use the supplemental page for my financial chart?

A: Yes, that is an excellent use for the supplemental page. You can also use it for a photo, diagram, screen shot, etc.

Q. Can a high school student enter more than one business?

A. Sure, as long as they are separate entries.

Q. I’m in the eighth grade? May I enter?

A. Absolutely! You may enter either the high school or community track.

Q. Do you have to have an operating business to enter?

A. No, for this contest, your concept can be in the idea phase. But if you do have an operating business, it can’t be more than two years old.

Q. Who gets to participate in the video competition?

A. The People’s Pick is a video competition of the top six finalists in both the Community and FIU Tracks. Last year it drew more than 18,000 votes. There is a separate award for the People’s Pick. You can see last year’s videos on

Q. What are the prizes?

A. If you are looking for big prize money, you are in the wrong contest. We have been a community contest for 15 years that has offered exposure (the top three winners and the People’s Pick are profiled in the Miami Herald and we follow the companies for years to come), feedback, education and connections. Some of our winners have found that is just as valuable.

Get advice from our Business Plan Bootcamp -- read about it here.

Read more Business Plan Challenge stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category