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        Tips for Entrepreneurship Competition Tips

        Contributed by The Wire

        Brandon Strong, National Post-secondary President

        Brandon Strong currently attends Northwood University in Midland, Michigan. He is a senior majoring in Advertising, Marketing, and Business Management with a minor in International Business. He has been a member of Business Professionals of America for eight years and has held many leadership roles within the organization at the local and state level. He has competed in many WSAP events at all levels. Two of his favorites have been Entrepreneurship and Desktop Publishing and he has received awards at all levels.

        He is currently employed by the nation’s largest retail bookstore. Besides reading he enjoys going to the movies, traveling, spending time with family and friends and admits to be addicted to music. Brandon likes to listen to everything from classical to rap and everything in between. He also likes to watch television series in his free time, including The West Wing, NCIS, and Boston Legal.

        Brandon hopes to move to Chicago, Illinois after graduating in the spring. It is his goal to work for an advertising firm or magazine publisher with offices in Paris, France and/or London, England in hopes of doing some traveling.

        One of the most unique competitions that Business Professionals of America offers is Entrepreneurship. This competition requires the student to create a start-up business plan and then present it to judges as if they are potential investors.

        This is one of my favorite competitions because it allows the student to be as creative as they wish. I have competed in this event for five years now and have created business plans for a garden center, graphic design studio, event coordinating company, interior design firm and a business consultant firm.

        I have competed, proctored, and have even judged for this event and here are some pointers that I believe will be very helpful for anyone who is considering competing in Entrepreneurship.

        • Try to make your plan as realistic as possible. One way of doing this is to visit a real business in your community that shares some of the characteristics of your invented business. You can also make it appear real by creating as much supporting documents that you can – business cards, letter head, envelopes, flyers, brochures, newspaper ads, phonebook ads, invoices, postcards – and do not just stop there! Have things that are unique to your business as well. For example, an interior design firm should have house plans and swatches. The possibilities are endless and this is where your plan can stand out from all the others.

          I would like to stress that the guidelines state that the business plans itself must not exceed fifteen pages in length, but supporting documents are not included in the fifteen page limit so you can add as much supporting documents as you wish. And remember, everything is in the details.
        • Leave something with the judges. This may sound weird but it is a great way to show extra effort. If your judges were real investors you would be sure to leave something special with them once your presentation is over. One of my favorite leave behinds were Forget-Me-Knott seeds for my garden center – it works, trust me.
        • Do not use a program to create your business plan. At every competition I see at least one plan that a student has used a program to create their business plan. One of the most important reasons not to is that the programs that are available do not fallow the Style and Reference Manual format, which the plan must follow. It is also very obvious that these programs use a cookie-cutter approach that only requires you to fill in the blanks. Please do not get me wrong, a lot of these programs are great at creating plans and are a great way to get ideas but they are not at all good for creating your business plan for competition.
        • Have fun with it! More than likely you will be working on this project for quite some time so find something you are interested in and create it around that. If you like to bake try a specialty bakery or if you like dirt bikes try an indoor motocross track. The judges can tell when the person presenting has a passion for what they have created.

        These are just a couple of tips that I have discovered while creating my plans the past couple of years. The one thing that I cannot stress enough is to be sure to have fun while creating your plan and be sure to add those special details.

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