It’s your friendly neighborhood “Digital Drummer” again…smile.
In these troubling economic times many Black business are looking for funding…..Have you considered Business Plan Competitions?
If you are new to business and have no track record, or credit history; If you don’t have a rich uncle or Angel financier, you can enter these competitions and not only get great advice on improving your plan, but Hard Cash Grants as well. On average these competitions give away anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000 dollars in prize money. Let me repeat; Free Money (not loans).
As I wrote in “So You Want To Be A Dot.com Millionaire” (see http://www.citylightssoftware.com/reporte0801.html), the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. That first step is creating a plan and structure for your company. Planning and structure are the most important stage of business development. Without a plan…you plan to fail.
Your Business Plan should tell you approximately how much money you will need to get from point A to Z. Most small businesses fail due to lack of capital and poor planning. You need to know from day one how you will manufacture, market, and deliver products or services to your customers. How large a staff do you need; who is your consumer market; what is your tax liability; what is your supply and distribution stream.
These are all questions you need to answer before approaching anyone with your idea. In fact, if you can’t answer those basic business 101 questions…then you’re NOT ready to go into business! For those just starting out the SBA has a great online assessment tool (http://www.sba.gov/assessmenttool/index.html). This assessment tool is designed to help you better understand your readiness for starting a small business. It is simple to use and will take less than 5 minutes to complete.
If you need help preparing and/or completing your Business Plan there are many free resources available on and off line. I recommend you start by contacting your local non-profit Business Incubator or SBA office. There are many national Black business and technical groups such as the BDPA (see www.bdpa.org) that run entrepreneurial programs designed to encourage, support, and foster new business in the Black community.
The bottom line is whether your Business Plan is 5 pages, or 200….It is a Living Document, one that will change and grow as you develop your entrepreneurial skills. A proper Business plan will not only guide you, but inspire you. Once you have your Business Plan together you can submit it to a number of Business Plan Competitions for start-up funding.
Listed below are just some of my favorites, but you can view a full list of over 50 competitions (most from business schools) by checking out the following link
The National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) business plan competition
Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) BizFilings Plan for the Future business plan competition
the Miller/Coors Urban Entrepreneurs Series (MUES).business plan competition
For more help on creating a proper/professional Business Plan see “18 Small Business Web Sites To Grow Your Company” (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/The_City_Lights_Reporter/message/2167)