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Best Business Plan Competitions For Entrepreneurs




As an entrepreneur, sometimes it may seem like your idea is everything. After all, without your ingenious idea, there is no company to build. Yet, there are many steps to take in order to develop that idea. Having a strong business plan is a must.

Through the research and writing it requires, the plan takes what was initially nothing but an innovative idea and makes it into a possibility. It helps you lay out every conceivable aspect of your business, including the executive summary, a company and team description, the copyrights involved, your market research, and the business’ financial plan.

Each section allows the reader to get to know your business, its profitability, expenses, and market impact. They also help you and your team to keep track of the company’s growth through the weeks, months, and years.

In any startup business plan that you may download from the best business templates site, the most important function is its ability to attract funding, and not simply through loans, investors, or credit unions. A strong business plan can bring your company independent capital through business plan competitions, a well-capitalized but underutilized resource for entrepreneurs.

The competitions usually consist of elaborating on your business idea in a concise business plan, a pitch deck presentation, and (often) a display of the company’s product or service. The presentation is done in front of an acclaimed panel of judges formed by local industry leaders, other investors, or entrepreneurs.

The panel judges your presentation based on the competition’s specific criteria and performance metrics. On some occasions, like during the 2005 Rice University Business-Plan Competition, the venture capitalists present can offer the participants even more than the original prize.

You can find business plan competitions focused on a variety of markets. Some are focused on a single industry, some are specifically for college startups, and others are open to anyone with a great marketing and financial plan. Here is a list of five competitions you could apply to.

tecBRIDGE Business Plan Competition

For over two decades the Northeastern Pennsylvania based organization now known as tecBRIDGE has made an effort to promote technology-based economic development, entrepreneurship, and innovation in its region.

Since 2002, the tecBRIDGE Business Plan Competition has been a platform for their mission. The competition is divided into collegiate and non-collegiate divisions. Non-collegiate participants must have gross revenue of $250k or lower since the founding of the business. They must also submit a plan which identifies commercial solutions for technical products or services. Team registration deadlines for the annual competition are due in February.

Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition

For 10 years, Penn GSE and the Milken Family Foundation have joined forces to help kickstart educational businesses. The Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition allows educational entrepreneurship ventures from around the world to present their plans in front of a panel of industry experts.

The ventures can address any educational issue, from workforce learning to early childhood education to special education, but they may not have raised nor earned more than $500k in gross revenue since their legal foundation.

Besides the usual sections of a business plan, the competition’s application includes the submission of a digital slide deck presentation with a maximum of 15 slides and a 60-second video pitch. The annual competition is a great platform for potential funding and for great networking.

Citizen Entrepreneurship Competition

In 2001, German professor Günter Faltin started the Entrepreneurship Foundation with the goal of helping people of all ages around the world to create sustainable businesses. The foundation’s Citizen Entrepreneurship Competition is meant to encourage business owners and innovators around the world to do just that.

Their venture, project, or idea must have some sort of societal impact which affects one or more of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs include poverty, world hunger, health and well-being, quality education, responsible consumption and production, and development of industry, innovation, and infrastructure.

The competition is divided into a Youth section for those between the ages of 13 and 29. The Adult Citizen Entrepreneurship category serves applicants who are 30 years old and older.

Get in the Ring

Frustrated by the number of startups they saw fail every year because of funding and resource needs, the technology scouting company Unknown Group created Get in the Ring. The group’s goal is to give these ventures the tools they need to thrive, and they do so through three platforms—a competition, a challenge, and a global meetup.

The annual competition, which began in 2012, invites entrepreneurs with ventures that contribute to the solving of today’s grand challenges. It is divided into five competitions that meet different needs—clean energy, food and agriculture, health, workforce augmentation, and impact (which focuses on the SDGs).

The winners of the competition are welcomed to the global meetup, a three-day retreat where startups from 150 countries present their innovations to hundreds of investors, industry experts, and other business owners.

Rice Business Plan Competition

For 20 years, Rice University’s competition has given collegiate entrepreneurs a chance to get real-world experience and opportunities in business launching. Only two of the team members need to be Rice students and another member must be a graduate-level student. The competition is aimed at businesses in the sectors of energy and sustainability, science, technology, and other innovation.

The application consists of a 20-question survey and the submission of a two to five-page executive summary. Participants are encouraged to add a 60 to 120-second video pitch. Only 42 of the hundreds of annual applicants get a chance to participate in the competition, where a group of 200 judges made up of industry leaders, venture capitalists and national investors choose worthy winners.

Last year, more than seven teams won awards of $100,000 or more.

Choose the right competition for your business, prepare your plan, and pitch for when the deadlines open and get ready to compete.

The idea of Bigtime Daily landed this engineer cum journalist from a multi-national company to the digital avenue. Matthew brought life to this idea and rendered all that was necessary to create an interactive and attractive platform for the readers. Apart from managing the platform, he also contributes his expertise in business niche.

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The Ultimate Guide to the Essential Social Skills in Business




Effective communication and strong relationships are essential for success in the workplace. One factor that can greatly influence these qualities is emotional intelligence, often abbreviated as EQ. EQ refers to the ability to identify, understand, and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. Research has shown that individuals with high levels of EQ are better equipped to handle stress, communicate effectively, and work collaboratively with others (Chamorro-Premuzic & Sanger, 2016).

Research has consistently shown that emotional intelligence (EQ) is an important predictor of job performance and success in the workplace. EQ is comprised of a set of skills that allow individuals to recognize, understand, and regulate their own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. In addition, individuals with high EQ are better able to communicate effectively, build relationships, and navigate complex social situations. As a result, they are often viewed as effective leaders and collaborators, and are more likely to achieve their personal and professional goals.

In fact, a number of studies have demonstrated the significant impact that EQ has on job performance and success. For example, one study of 85 upper-level managers found that those with higher EQ scores were rated as more effective leaders by their subordinates (Law, Wong, & Song, 2004). Another study of 151 employees found that those with higher EQ were more likely to be promoted within their organization over a five-year period (Carmeli, Brueller, & Dutton, 2009). These findings highlight the importance of EQ in the workplace and suggest that developing these skills can lead to significant benefits for both individuals and organizations.

According to a study conducted by TalentSmart, a leading provider of EQ assessments, EQ is responsible for 58% of success in all job types (Bradberry & Greaves, 2009). In contrast, IQ only accounts for about 4% of success in the workplace. This suggests that EQ is a crucial skill set for individuals in any professional field. Fortunately, EQ is a skill that can be developed and honed over time with practice and awareness.

There are several key components of EQ that are particularly important for success in the workplace. These include: 

Self-Regulation: This refers to your capacity to recognize and control your emotions. Sometimes treating them when they arise may be necessary. Understanding how to manage your anger is essential. However, it can also cover how to control the feelings you’ll experience.

Self-Awareness: This implies recognizing and understanding your own feelings. Do noisy places make you nervous? Do other people talking over you make you angry? Knowing these truths about yourself shows that you are working on your self-awareness. Being conscious of yourself is necessary for this phase, which can be more complex than it sounds.

Socialization: This category focuses on your capacity to manage social interactions and direct relationships. It doesn’t entail dominating others but knowing how to work with others to achieve your goals. This could entail presenting your ideas to coworkers, leading a team, or resolving a personal disagreement.

Motivation: Strong motivators include external forces like money, status, or suffering. Internal motivation, however, plays a significant role in Goleman’s concept. By doing so, you demonstrate your ability to control your cause and initiate or continue initiatives of your own volition rather than in response to external demands.

Empathy: It’s equally critical to be sensitive to others’ feelings. This may entail learning to identify different emotional states in individuals — for example, can you tell the difference between someone at ease and someone anxious? — but it also requires comprehension of how other people may react to their current situation. Empathy is one of the essential traits in business and business leadership.

A thought leader in this space, Michael Ventura has built a career advising organizations on the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace. In his book, Applied Empathy, Ventura highlights the value of empathy in business and provides strategies for developing and applying this skill set. With two decades of experience as a leader, facilitator, and educator, Ventura’s work has made impact in with prestigious institutions such as Princeton University and the United Nations as well as corporate clients such as Google and Nike.

Through his work, Ventura advises leaders to focus on the development of EQ in order to help individuals improve their communication, collaboration, and leadership skills, ultimately leading to greater success in the workplace. Experts like Ventura continue to support the growing body of research on the value of EQ in business, and the evidence that organizations who invest in the EQ of their teams help to create a more empathetic and successful professional environment.

And it’s worth noting that EQ isn’t just important for individual success in the workplace, but also for overall organizational success. A study by the Center for Creative Leadership found that EQ was a better predictor of success than IQ or technical skills in the workplace, and that teams with higher levels of EQ tend to be more effective and productive (Boyatzis, Goleman, & Rhee, 1999). By cultivating a culture of empathy and emotional intelligence, organizations can improve their overall performance and create a more positive work environment for their employees.

In conclusion, emotional intelligence is a crucial component of success in the workplace, and individuals and organizations alike should prioritize the development of these skills. The ones that do not only develop a leading edge in their category, but also become a meaningful place to work for their teams. And in today’s rapidly changing talent landscape, the retention of highly capable, emotionally intelligent leaders is one of the greatest keys to unlocking success.


Boyatzis, R. E., Goleman, D., & Rhee, K. S. (1999). Clustering competence in emotional intelligence: Insights from the emotional competence inventory (ECI). In R. Bar-On & J. D. A. Parker (Eds.), Handbook of emotional intelligence (pp. 343-362). Jossey-Bass.

Bradberry, T., & Greaves, J. (2009). Emotional intelligence 2.0. TalentSmart.

Chamorro-Premuzic, T., & Sanger, M. N. (2016). Does employee happiness matter? Journal of Organizational Effectiveness: People and Performance, 3(2), 168-191.

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