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Best Business Plan Competitions For Entrepreneurs

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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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Business

From Contracts to Counsel: Your Essential Guide to Hiring a Probate Attorney in Chicago

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Like many people, you’ll come across the term probate after a loved one, such as a parent or spouse, passes away. So, what is probate, and why do you need an attorney for it? As defined in Forbes, probate is a legal process that occurs after death. It entails transferring the assets of the decedent (the person who passed) to beneficiaries named in their last will. 

With that in mind, having a probate lawyer by your side is essential. The last thing you want to do is deal with the legal complexities of settling a loved one’s estate while grieving. A probate lawyer oversees the validation of the deceased’s will and the fair distribution of assets among family members. One challenge lies in finding a top-quality probate lawyer.

In this guide to hiring a probate attorney in Chicago, we’ll discuss the tips to identify the right legal professional for probate proceedings. 

Understand the Responsibilities of a Probate Lawyer

It’s difficult to hire a talented probate lawyer when you don’t know what they do: Start by understanding the roles they play. 

When you work with a Chicago probate lawyer, some tasks they might do include: 

  • Act as an estate executor or administrator 
  • Collect proceeds from the life insurance policies of the deceased
  • Identify and secure the decedent’s assets
  • Get an appraisal for the deceased’s estate
  • Pay debts and resolve estate tax issues
  • Prepare and file documents required in probate court
  • Transfer assets to rightful heirs
  • Represent you in litigation proceedings if someone challenges or contests the will

A probate lawyer could also help you and your family navigate state inheritance laws if a loved one dies without a valid will. That way, you can avoid unnecessary taxes or other ramifications of not creating a will, such as losing ownership rights of the deceased’s business or financial support.

Search for Lawyers Online and Offline

You’re probably thinking, where do I find the best lawyer to hire? You could seek referrals from friends or colleagues. Friends who worked with probate attorneys before might provide important details, such as how the lawyers communicate and handle the probate process. 

Alternatively, do a simple online search using the terms “probate lawyer near me” or “probate attorney in Chicago.” Go through various websites or online directories and write names of lawyers with positive ratings and customer testimonials. Then, contact the potential lawyers to set up free consultations. Note that not all legal professionals offer free consultations, so make sure to ask before setting a time in your calendar. 

Ask the Right Questions

A free consultation provides opportunities to ask questions to better understand if the lawyers in question have the qualifications to handle your probate case. 

Four questions you might ask attorneys during the initial meeting may include:

  1. Do You Have Experience in Probate Law? 

When evaluating lawyers, prioritize experience. An experienced probate lawyer is aware of common pitfalls that can result in the probate petition being postponed or dropped by a judge. To feel more comfortable about an attorney’s expertise, ask them if they’ve handled probate cases similar to yours before. 

For example, let’s say the deceased owned a substantial estate or had complicated assets like royalties and mineral stocks. Working with an attorney with a track record of successfully handling cases like that could save you time and money in the long run.

  1. What Do Other Clients Say About You?

Experience alone doesn’t make a probate lawyer perfect for your case. Look for someone with an outstanding reputation. These reviews likely live on Google next to their business profile or are featured on their website. If you can’t find any endorsements, ask for testimonials written by past clients. 

One point to focus on is what reviewers say about the lawyer’s efficiency and speed. Beyond that, does the lawyer offer expert guidance, conflict mitigation, and proper asset management during probate? 

A probate attorney in Chicago, IL, should be an efficient expert in asset preservation. This can be crucial to helping avoid hefty taxes and excessive debt claims. Additionally, if the lawyer receives positive feedback on conflict mitigation, it suggests they have experience in resolving or mitigating family conflicts that tend to stall the probate process. 

  1. How Long Does Probate Last? 

One way to test a probate lawyer’s knowledge is by asking them, “How long does probate last?” While the numbers vary, probate can last for a few months to over a year in many states, including Chicago. When highlighting factors that affect the duration of probate, your counsel might mention things like estate size, family disputes, debt and taxes, absence of a will, and state laws.

A knowledgeable lawyer can explain clearly why your probate case could last a few months or even years. A lawyer that makes too brazen or hard-set of promises might not be the most honest. 

  1. How Do You Want Us To Communicate? 

There’s no hard rule on how you and your probate attorney communicate. You can talk via text messages, email, video calls, or phone calls. More importantly, check that the attorney communicates in simple language to help you understand your case. 

In fact, one essential of a lawyer’s dos and don’ts to gaining clients’ trust is to avoid making clients feel clueless. If a potential lawyer uses complex legal terms or avoids communicating directly, search for probate services elsewhere.

Conclusion: Finding a Probate Attorney in Chicago

Reviewing the will of a loved one after their death and ensuring fair distribution of their assets often involves complex legal issues. For this reason, consider hiring an attorney who specializes in probate law. 

To maximize your chances of finding the right probate lawyer, familiarize yourself with their responsibilities. Next, search online for lawyers within your state or ask for recommendations from people you trust. Then, interview prospects to help ensure they possess experience, a remarkable reputation, communication skills, and knowledge of probate law.

Settling the affairs of a loved one who has passed on can be an overwhelming time. A probate attorney can help lift some of the pressure off your shoulders as you focus on grieving and healing. 

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