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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



Empathy and Ego make good Entrepreneurs

These are the two key components that make up a substantial amount of your communication abilities, yet mostly overlooked.

Ego is very often gets misinterpreted as being arrogant, cocky or snooty, but rather it is having a healthy understanding of your own self worth, the ideas you generate and the opportunities which lie ahead. Entrepreneurs have to believe in what they do, have the ability to communicate this to their investors, bankers, suppliers, employees and customers. Make these stakeholders, not only agree, believe they want to be part of this amazing (ad)venture which currently is just in an entrepreneurs mind. Without a strong autonomous ego you are one less tool short, one step closer to bankruptcy and therefore lacking the support from others you need. You need a strong, indestructible ego.

Every successful entrepreneur has a strong ego which allows them to generate a solid mental image of the product which they can creatively and confidently express to others. Their ego then shines through developing empathy within their valued customers and other stakeholders to create a business relationship.

Empathy is the skill of being able to put yourself in the other person’s position and understand how they might feel, the needs they have, or the requirement in a particular situation. This skill of determining a client’s need for the product or service that you are offering is core to being successful in business.  It’s a core skill of the entrepreneur which will sit next to your cut instincts.

Your success as an entrepreneur comes down to your attitudes and beliefs about you and your products. Whether you are aware of it or not, these will reveal themselves to your clients, in emails, over the telephone, marketing material and at face to face meetings. Empathy and ego are core factors that affect the way you communicate your attitude to customer and therefore should be looked after, maintained and be made a solid foundation for your future.

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!