What is it? A business plan contest not only helps provide seed funding to people who wish to start a business, but it also generates excitement and interest in local entrepreneurship ventures and helps potential business owners become better prepared to succeed. There are many different options, but contest winners are granted some funding to help get new ventures off the ground. To receive the funding, contest participants must have not only an exciting idea, but also a solid business plan. Studies on small business success rates have shown that having a well considered business plan increases the life span of new ventures. A business plan contest process may also connect participants with resources and mentors to better encourage their success and improve their plan and their understanding of business fundamentals. Fostering creativity and entrepreneurship in this way can help create a thriving community.
How has it been used? The Brooklyn Public Library runs an annual business plan contest called PowerUP!. Every year, this program encourages people to use the free resources that are available through the library to help build their plans. Participants attend educational classes that help them formulate their plans and connect them with area leaders to help with this process. Any person from Brooklyn is free to enter their plan in the contest. At the end of this process, a winner is chosen and receives $15,000 to support their new business. Two second place prizes, three merit awards and honorable mention candidates also receive lesser funding. They have spawned many businesses, including a bookstore that has been named the best independent bookstore by New York Magazine and a restaurant that has made the Inc. 5000 List of Fastest Growing Businesses. (Source: Brooklyn Public Library)