With high confidence and ego, you said to yourself “I want to be an entrepreneur”. You have a great business idea and vision. Unfortunately, you have no one to consult or guide you through. Your friends are high GPA achievers but have no real experience in starting-up a business.
Some might even scoff at your business idea and mock your vision of wanting to be a successful entrepreneur. You’re frustrated because you’re stuck in this vicious cycle. You can’t break through because you have little contacts.
What should you do? How should a Mark Zuckerberg wannabe kick start his or her entrepreneur career? You could dive in straight and learn through mistakes. But that’s a little too costly and is also an inefficient way to learn the ropes.
One possible way is to join a business plan competition. It might not be the coolest grand opening but it is a good way to start. In the start-up world, you need not be cool. You just need to build, lead and sell. So, stop daydreaming about coding your idea in your dormitory and eventually be featured in a movie and magazines. Be practical and do things right. Even Mark Zuckerberg has mentors.
The Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition was launched in 2001 and has served as a springboard for many budding entrepreneurs. It was set up for tertiary students to showcase their business ideas in an international arena, network with potential investors and attract seed funding for their ideas.
Last year champion, Mark Jensen, won for himself US$36,000 with his business plan to revolutionize the communication tower and utility pole industry. The 23-year-old from the US trumped the rest of the finalists with a manufacturing process that will produce a stronger, lighter and safer structure, which also requires less maintenance. Every competition breeds champions and you could be one of them too.
Here is my list of reasons why you should join Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition:
1. Competition atmosphere: Competition makes you stronger. The tension will sharpen your networking and thinking skills.
2. Networking: Through the competition, you get to meet other entrepreneurs, angel investors and venture capitalists.
3. Asia: The competition is global but it is held in Singapore. You’ll get to meet and learn more about the Asian culture. Asia has one of the most emerging markets in the world.
4. Funding: The prize money could be used to fund your business idea. That is if you win.
5. Experience: The experience will be invaluable even if you lose.
6. Save time: The competition will give you a good introduction to the start-up world without losing more time and money if you were to do it without guidance.
7. Idea validation: Joining this competition will tell you whether your idea is workable. There isn’t a need to guess and take risk with real cash.
8. New ideas: You will get to see lot of different ideas and people across the world. That should inspire you with new ideas.
9. Business plan: Learn to write a business plan. Trust me, it isn’t easy. This isn’t a school report for professors. It’s for people who have done it and been there.
10. Pitch: The final round requires you to give a pitch. Again, you’re pitching to people who are looking to invest in the next big idea. It should give you a good overview of the pressure and anxiety when pitching for investments.
Congratulations for reading this far. Your next step would be to submit a business plan summary (in less than 1000 words) for the preliminary round. You have until 31 January to submit your summary. According to the guideline, your business plan summary should address the following:
• Innovation – Novelty & Intellectual Property (25%)
• Scalability – Market Size & Sustainability (25%)
• Competitive Positioning – Team & Advisors (25%)
• Financials – Realistic Measurable Outcome (25%)
Your can find out more about the competition here. Best of luck.
This article was first posted on Penn-Olson, a tech, marketing and marketing blog focusing on US and Asia. Penn-Olson is a Young Upstarts content partner.