Tag Archives: motivation

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



What makes a good entrepreneur? – Advantage

I often have to look at new businesses and see if it is ready to move to the next step, sometimes this is investment, sometimes it is getting the first customer and other times it may be ready to have a mentor. For each of these the critical element is “Is the entrepreneur making the most of their advantage?”

This advantage is diverse but it is important that as an entrepreneur you look inside and see what are your strengths and how can you maximise these in the world we live in. These strengths can always be developed with new skills and abilities. The next evaluation is the team you have in you business and what are their strengths. Then you should start looking at the business, its brand, its products, its location and the processes that you have developed. This provides a very powerful advantage that your business can project into the market to develop loyalty, awareness and revenue. This advantage is very important to understand and evaluate to ensure they are real.

This internal search for the core assets of your business, is the most important aspect of creating a deliverable vision based on your strengths, and not on your competitors. Many entrepreneurs see the world in a different way and therefore create new products, services and experiences which no other person have ever thought of. This need to generate a new solution drives their creativity to develop a new alternative future for man kind, they have vision.

If you want to see examples of this, then watch “Drangon’s Den” where the investors will only invest in businesses they understand how they can add value, how they can use their advantage to their strength. It’s not about the money, it all about their core strengths when choosing to invest. If we take a look at “The Apprentice” we see the challenges playing to the hosts advantage, when they were developing their business they had core advantage, like selling on products for a profile. Successful people understand their strengths and how much they are worth and how they can get the most out of what they have. So ask yourself this important question.

We don’t have all the resources in the work when we are developing our business and therefore resourcing is always an issue. However once you know what you are good at, the rest by definition must require some extra resources. This is always a major issue for young and inexperienced entrepreneurs as managing other people is normally out side their mind or skill set. Handling diverse people within a business is an issue as creative people are motivate in a different way to sales people. The one advantage you will always have is you are an entrepreneur who started the business, you have the drive, vision and strength to lead those in your business. This is your advantage, use it.

The Three Stages of Entrepreneurship

The process can be easily split into three stages: Thinking, Doing and Growing.

Thinking about Starting

The start-up phase is thinking, making plans, developing the right motivation to start and develop the aptitude to be an entrepreneur. For some people this is the hardest part and they struggle to choose an idea, develop the idea past just that and get other involved in making the idea reality. The majority of entrepreneurs never had the luxury to have to sit down and brainstorm ideas, then using innovation techniques decide on the best idea and then market research which one of the shortlist to take forward to a business. I still believe in the ‘gut instinct’ method, if you don’t have the guts to make the decision you want to take forward, then you don’t have the guts to make it work, so stay and get yourself a job in someone else’s business.

Doing a Startup

The doing phase is the hardest, it’s the one all the famous entrepreneurs don’t talk about, it’s the part where you spend 18 hours a day, 7 days a week making this business inch forward to some form of success. In this stage you need to start to build relationships with your staff, your bank, your suppliers and your customers. This relationship has to develop a trust and a strong bond which allow everyone to understand who they are and what value they provide into the business model. If someone doesn’t understand this then they will become the weakest link in your business.

Growing a Startup

The final stage is growth, personal growth, business growth, network growth and sales growth. This stage is normally post 36 months and it’s the point where the business model and relationships with suppliers is well established. The bank actually like and trust you. The most important part of this stage is to figure out ‘what type of entrepreneur you are?’ and what you can and cannot do, what you want and do not want to do. The things you don’t want to do, hire someone better that you. The thing you want to do and no good at, then develop some skills, in fact you will need to develop skills anyway. Knowing yourself will ensure your business has a solid foundation.  In this stage you need to develop stronger bonds with your local community as you require more employees, more space and more flexible and understanding relationships with those around you.

Selling with passion leads to success

When we look at the motives for starting a business, one which stands out as the most durable is passion. The entrepreneur has a hobby, they wanted to make a difference or they have a great emotion for a subject that makes them want to start and develop a business around it.

This passion was their motive for starting and developed into their motivation to make this venture succeed. These are amazing businesses which develop around a person and lead to great entrepreneurial lifestyles that ensure their passion is maintained, developed and built upon. A self sustaining motivation leads to business success.

This success is also due to customers liking the entrepreneur and their passion for the product. They sell with their passion on their sleeve and for all to see. It’s a very simple yet powerful sales technique which only a few entrepreneurs can carry off, but it pays in pure dividends which I recommend, if you can, duplicate.

No one can take away your passion, only you, so it is a very powerful force in driving you to success and others to face the fact they believe in you. This self belief is the key to any sale, people buy from people and as you are the top of your game, you are in the right place at the right time. So when buying a product they look for people they like, they want to do business with, or people who make them feel good. Your passion does this, so make it your sales mantra which drives your success in sales.

People with passion for their product also say no, when customers ask for changes which they don’t like, increasing the desire for the product. People with passion have a vision they want the product to go in and therefore a vision which the client can buy into. Passionate people make the best sales people.

Start selling with passion and create your success in sales today.

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.