We’re in the middle of business plan competition season, and we’re seeing some great plans, and a lot of common mistakes. We’ve assembled some of our best advice on business competitions, below.

Ask Tim Berry – Tips for Business Plan Competitions

  • Don’t Shade Your Eyes, Summarize: “I don’t care if you’re the next big thing, with an unimaginably exciting new idea and a great team, you can still create a meaningful summary in 10 pages.”
  • Writing an Executive Summary: Hit these highlights, and customize your Executive Summary for the intended audience.
  • Estimating Unknown Expenses: How do you predict expenses? Normally you need some experience. If you have no idea, then you might think again about starting this business.
  • Why not do your best? If you’re going to a graduate level intercollegiate and international venture competition, ask somebody to edit the plan for simple practical writing. Make sure your projected income and balance link up correctly with the cash flow, and that the cash flow understands working capital. Use business charts to illustrate the main numbers.
  • How to Succeed in Competitions: Competitions normally receive far more entrants than they can practically screen any other way, so the business plan is the critical document. This white paper explains how to customize and improve the output you create in Business Plan Pro to meet the sophisticated needs of a venture contest.

How to lose a business plan competition

Presenting your plan to judges:

Guy Kawasaki’s 10/20/30 Rule: How listening to crappy business plan pitches is giving Guy Ménière’s disease.

Sara Prentice Manela