Tag Archives: enterprising

Business plan competitions , the benefits for all

The Business Plan Competition is one of the major tools for those institutions starting out with entrepreneurship as it provide a promotional platform for creating student awareness, real role models and institutional engagement. A large number of universities and colleges create an enterprise delivery strategy around this linchpin.  From this they can hang workshops such ideas creation, business skills and also more personalized services such as mentoring and accelerators.  


If it is done correctly it can generate a significant interest in the student population, local business and senior management, growing at an annual rate to ensure competitors from all facility or schools within the institution. A true win win!


So why should your institution run a business plan competition? 

Enterprise Ethos

There are very few projects within the university which develops the enterprise ethos of the institution. The business plan competition can be made to work with all academic departments, staff and students to ensure that the benefits of enterprise are understood in the context of the institution. This management tool requires careful development but will product results which will be lasting in changing the ethos.


The development of students out of the class room is important in ensuring they understand that a continual approach to learning in the work place should be adopted at every stage of their life. The process of learning, developing new skills and applying them to real world problems in a creative way is one every degree student has to learn. 

Celebration of enterprise

The awards event should be a celebration of enterprise whereby everyone associated with university enterprise, staff, researchers, students, businesses, By engaging the Vice Chancellor to deliver prizes and keynote speech you can ensure some level of support from others within the university. 

Skills Development 

Students will develop new skills through a competitive behavior and engaging in a number of pre-submission sessions. This ensures that a wider number of students gain experience whilst also increasing the competitions’  finalist ability. This is especially important when dealing with the expectations of sponsors and also ensuring that a sufficient story can be provided to the press. These role models are especially important when developing a sustainable competition. When we look at shell live wire, the press and PR exposure provided to the finalist has always been exceptional, ensuring the further development of the finalists businesses.

Student Role Models

Student peer development is an important learning pedagogy which ensures wide spread appeal when embedding enterprise  into the student mindset. A diversity of business types and annual growth of this growth is an important factor for a student when seeking reassurance for their entrepreneurial thinking and endeavors. 


It is important these role models are seen on event marketing collateral, made available during events and speak about their real life experiences. These experiences, should include The good, the bad and the ugly and should be demonstrated to the students that what ever life experiences come forward, its the learning from these that enables the entrepreneur to grow and succeed.

Business & Alumni Collaboration

It also brings in sponsors from businesses and more importantly alumni. These groups thrive on engaging students, their ideas and being part of the university culture. Once they get involved, they start to recruit students into their businesses, develop knowledge transfer partnership and take an active interest in the students and staff of the institution.


The competition will also create and should involve the institutions alumni of key role models for our student entrepreneurs. These groups of people make great judges, mentors, business coaches, sponsors and advisory board members which are so important in ensuring staff and students understand the needs of business and entrepreneurs.

Internal Collaboration

Opportunities for collaboration on a single project with a large number of internal stakeholders such as the student union, the incubator, university departments and external businesses is very rare at universities. One case study is from the Liverpool university which bases the competition out of the student union ensures the highest student engagement and also attendance at the finals. This engagement then ensures wider student perception of the competition and also from the widest demographics of students, from social sciences to biology. 

Staff Development

The process of running the competition provides a good opportunity for staff development, providing opportunities to run a project from start to completion within one academic year which brings in the skills of marketing, student engagement, mentoring and skills development. The metrics can be easily obtained and understood by all parties and thus ensures a great opportunity for staff.

Student & Enterprise Society Engagement

Using enterprise society for promotion and student engagement is one of the best ways to ensure student involvement and ownership, This ensures you develop a student led approach to the marketing and earlier stages engagement of the competitors which allows them to forms founder groups. There are numerous statistics which show that a team is more likely to win a business plan competition.


The vast majority, even the most success one will admit they would like to Increased business engagement, with students, with research, with course development, with CPD. The business plan competition is the first step in getting businesses on campus and meeting students, from here we can sell in all the other aspects of the university. So getting them to sponsor, attend or engage with a competitor is one the most critical parts of the universities business engagement strategy.


The key KPIs for a business plan competition should be:


  • The total number of student and graduate entries
  • The total number of students engaged on social media
  • The number of schools which enter
  • The total prize money available 
  • The business categories
  • The total hours of skills development
  • The total number of students having skills development
  • The number of businesses sponsoring
  • The total number of businesses attending the presentations
  • Increased student perception in enterprise



Remember your motive for starting a business

In a recent survey, 37% of start-ups stated their motive for starting a business was independence. The second and third motives were money and a new challenge.

It is so hard to maintain sight of this motive when you are working in your business on a daily basis. You forget the big picture, the grand plans and the gallant cause which means you lose your core asset, motivation. So the key to maintaining your motivation during the early years of business is to remember your motive for starting a business and ensure this is still relevant today as it was when you started.

To achieve this, I recommend you take a day out to work ‘on’ your business and not ‘in’ it. During this day you should a) revisit your motive(s), b) look at the business from an investors point of view and c) evaluate the plan.

Your motives for starting your business will never change, but your motivation for continuing will. So you must periodically look at the current motivation and ensure you and it are happy partners. If not, then look at other motivations. This motivation will then lead to how you develop the business, what customers, investors and suppliers you use.

As a business owner you have a lot of emotional attachment to the business, the products and everyone associated with the business. It is therefore very hard to look at it from a cold hard investor’s point of view. You are an investor in this business, providing time, energy, money and good will. So step back and look at the business from a third party view and see if this is a business you would invest in, if it was not yours? Ask your mentor to help you in this process, if you need help. Write down the changes you would want for you to invest.

This should allow you to develop a plan, based on your motives, your motivation for continuing, an evaluation of the business and you investing more into this business. While developing the plan, have an exit goal in mind. This is a point whereby you either completely leave the business or give one or more responsibilities to another person, allowing you more time to work on your business, not just in it.

Cool for Cats, Sales is for Entrepreneurs

As an engineering graduate, sales is ‘that stuff’ which other people do. When I became an entrepreneur the hard facts that everyone has to sell hit me, even though I had developed a product which was sold and downloaded on-line, how come?

We built a successful business with 160 customers in 60 countries without even employing a single sales person. Our company moto was ‘If you found a pump, pump it’ which meant if you saw a task which needed doing then you owned it. As a young dynamic entrepreneurial business everyone wanted to find as many pumps as they could, for experience, to ensure they were a key part of the business and also to ensure the business became a success. Our company of around 20 people continuously out preformed the sales of larger international players, how come?

Our products were downloadable mobile games. If we produced a press release over 500 websites would pick this up, if we had a new game, people would email to ask where they could get it, if we missed out supporting a handset people they would offer to test the game for us. Everyone thought we were cool (for cats). I even got mobbed on the Sun Java Stand at an exhibition, how cool is that (ok, I am a geek).

So did sales came easy?

No we had to learn fast, we had multiple levels of customers; operators, handset manufactures, newspapers, magazines, on-line portals, aggregators and end users. We had 60 countries to deal with in terms of: numerous currencies, customs and languages which all complicated the sales process.

The key, as with all sales, is turning an online product into a personal relationship which we could manage. This meant developing a complete sales cycle and customer experience solution which our customers could buy into and our competitors could only aspire too. We had to understand each client, their needs and requirements. We had to get out of our office and meet these people and make sure they liked us, our products and the complete experience we provided. The end result being they wanted to continue to do business with us every single month: repeat business.  In short we had to become an international sales force, learning on the job, we had to sell.

So if I can do it, I’m sure you can.

Why you should be an Entrepreneur in 2011

Everyone needs to be enterprising, everyone should have the ability to look at the problems around them and think of amazing ways of making the situation into a opportunity, taking advantage of the situation. You must and have to do this for your benefit, for those around you and those you care about.

When we all think about enterprising people we think about entrepreneurs, famous people like Alan Sugar, Donald Trump and Richard Branson. These people started from nothing and built billion dollar empires spanning the globe. They command respect in their ability to think outside the box, make things around them happen, have a brilliant vision which we can buy into and all admire.

Entrepreneurs are motivated by many things, for some its financial wealth, having authority, providing social good, commanding a business empire or just being able to do what they love. However, this motive drives them to get up every day and make the world around them a better place, a place where we can coexist.

They are just like you, and you need to find what is your entrepreneurial motivation, why are you going to get up every morning and make that difference? How will this motivation be so strong that you will have the courage to keep your businesses moving forward while others would have updated their CV, looked on the internet job sites and asked their friends if they know of any vacancies.

Finding the real motivation is the main reason the majority of people don’t start a business, it’s the single largest reason why you should start a business.

No one in the UK has ever been put to death for having a business failure.

So why do you think you will be the first, why do you think having the experience of starting a business, finding new contacts, building professional relationships with people across the world and learning diverse skills from budgeting, marketing and people management will result in you being worst off?

Starting a business and becoming an entrepreneur will make you a better person

96% of businesses in the UK are small business, with less than 10 people, (99% have less than 50) so if you fail you can become a valued employee in another small business, having developed those skills which every SME business in the UK is looking for.

Having ‘started a business’ on your CV will be attractive to employers.

The experience you develop as an entrepreneur will help you develop your other business ideas, which you will be able to take further. This means when you are ready to start thinking about a new idea, based on hard knowledge, based on real industrial experience, based on the best education the world has to offer, real world experience. Just remember you can’t read about experience you have to do it.

So just do It!