You have about a month left to participate in the 2014 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, which is also open to eighth graders this year, entering the Challenge will help you get moving.
To help you out, we are hosting a free Business Plan Bootcamp on March 17, presented by Challenge judge Melissa Krinzman and other judges. Find out more in this story about the Bootcamp at www.MiamiHerald.com/challenge, or directly register by clicking “buy now” here (don’t worry, it’s free!)
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. Also, winners receive free admissions to FIU entrepreneurship workshops and webinars.
4. Exposure and connections. It can’t hurt to have your plan read by South Florida’s top entrepreneurial experts, including serial entrepreneurs and investors (judges’ bios are on the left rail of 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 April 5. Contest rules are on MiamiHerald.com/challenge.
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.
Do you have questions? Email ndahlberg@MiamiHerald.com