Tag Archives: Entrepreneurial

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



Why are Mexicans richer than British Entrepreneurs?

I was looking through the Forbe’s rich list (http://www.forbes.com/billionaires/list/) and noticed a few trends.

The first is that the majority of richest people in the world are self made entrepreneurs.

1. Carlos Slim Helu
2. Bill Gates
3. Warren Buffet

In fact the list is split into new world and old world wealth, the majority of the successful self made entrepreneurs are based in the new world. This is because the majority of the growth in the world, the majority of the worlds population is in the developing world. Its also easy to start a business, no tax, red tape or health and safety to learn, manage and report on a monthly basis.

However, its doesn’t stop you starting a business in the UK which sells into these markets.

The second point is that Carlos Slim Helu, a mexican can become richer than any British person. The richest British person is at number 78 which is Gerald Cavendish with $11b. Forbe’s write about him “The sixth Duke of Westminster, Gerald Grosvenor, remains the U.K.’s wealthiest landowner, with his fortune increasing this year along with the property market in London.”

So the richest person in the UK is not a self made entrepreneur, its old money which is inherited, in fact old world wealth based on the value of land and property in London.

So during 2013, I am going to find out…

So why don’t we have more entrepreneurs?

Have we lost our entrepreneurial spirit?

Have we become happy to earn the minimum wage?

Have we all been educated past starting our own business?

Have we made it too difficult to do?

Do we know how to run a service business

Sometimes Entrepreneurs have to look back to move forward

Over the last two years I have been very fortunate to engage with some of the most amazing people who are on an adventure, to boldly go into business…. taking their first entrepreneurial steps… starting their personal business brand.

These mostly young people are the future and their local community welcomes them which is very satisfying in this time of virtual worlds, social networking and globalisation. They are generate interest wherever they go.

The first thing I must emphasise is the diversity of ideas, the amazing breath of business diversity which people have. I know its obvious but it not every day you can sit with a forest management company, a tailor and a technology business. So I thought I would share just a few:

Forest Direct, a family run businesses that manage forests, developing relationships with real people, their land, the trees that live on them. Each part of this tri-relationship takes many years to foster as traditions and the cycle of the seasons is well established. New methods and technology provides opportunities, which has helped, www.Forestdirect.webs.com

Crowd source learning from dabbler, that aims to break down the barriers between those who have knowledge and those that need it, ensuring we can learn from the most inspirational person. The internet ensures a level playing field: education and our personal development in one site. www.dabblerr.com

Squid London, a dynamic and technology advanced design company which distributes via the world’s museums. Emma-Jayne Parkes and Viviane Jaeger the two co-founders are true inspiration in the development of a fashion label.  www.squidlondon.com

SaferMinicabs which is in the early stages of launch has looked at the problems of safely booking a mini cab and how this entire process can be safer using modern mobile phones, GPS and the internet.  www.saferminicabs.com

Suits that fits has developed an amazing innovative business model which ensure more people get a share and creates social good through tailoring. The innovation within their business model, processes and quality is truly amazing.  www.asuitthatfits.com

Graduate Junction started out around two years ago serving the post graduate community and quick built a very loyal and active following.  This year they launched Linkhigher, www.linkhigher.com which is meeting the demands of both the post-graduate and the employer, who want highly knowledgeable people, as shore winner.

I have also worked with many universities and see great sparks of enlighten entrepreneurship. These come from staff, students, student societies and the local community. Again I wanted to share some great examples:

Some of the course work done in universities is amazing and one of the best examples is from Brunel University, who create “250 Innovative Ideas: made in Brunel” each year. This beautiful book, which provides a snapshot of the work done in the student’s final year projects of engineering, design and multimedia students.  This demonstrates the true ability of our graduates and how Britain still leads the world in good design. http://madeinbrunel.com

My First Million which was developed at Hertford University is one of my favourite learning tools for young people. The student watches video from the Dragon’s Den and other TV shows, once they have seen this, they decide if they want to invest. Then they see if the Dragon’s did and if a computer sim would. This creates a great learning experience and also starts to make us all aware of the learning potential of TV. http://www.myfirstmillion.tv

Some projects at Universities are about the community and the understanding we all have. The University of Plymouth created a book called “We Love Looe” which is a great children’s book which engaged and informed about the local surroundings. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Love-Looe-You-Will-Too/dp/1841022500

I have also looked for a less complex model of what makes an Entrepreneur, something which can be easily presented, understood and allow the student to start on their journey. This was found at the University of Huddersfield, developed by, John Thompson and Bill Bolton. The Focus, Advantage, Creativity, Ego, Team and Social aspects of the entrepreneur or the FACETS model.  http://www.efacets.co.uk

I would like to thank you all for the inspiration and encourage you to keep the flame truly ignited in your entrepreneurial brand. In developing my next venture, I will take these learning’s with me.