Competition is building as 16 teams have registered to compete in the first annual Michigan Tech Business Plan Competition. Since February 3rd, 25 students have been taking their ideas and constructing a plan for their dream businesses. On Tuesday, April 16 ten teams of competitors will present to a panel of judges and the winning business plan will receive cash and a variety of consulting services valued at $4,100.
As part of the competition, students are asked to attend learning sessions geared toward developing their ideas and teaching proper elements of a business plan. Jonathan Leinonen of the MTEC SmartZone Business Accelerator and adjunct lecturer of an entrepreneurship class within the School of Business and Economics at Michigan Tech, introduced key points to competitors, telling them what it takes to keep a plan near the top of the pile. Leinonen pointed out that in some cases, reviewers can be looking over as many as 25-50 business plans per day. He emphasized the executive summary as the opportunity to grab your audience’s attention. “This is the first cut,” he said. “This is where you need to answer questions like ‘Can my business succeed and will it be profitable?” According to Leinonen, investors generally look for a 20-30 percent return and base their decision on the likelihood of seeing such a return.
He also noted that demonstrating willingness to expand is key. “They want to see that you’re not a one trick pony,” Leinonen said as he discussed the best way to describe products and services. “Keep in mind as you’re writing that your industry peers should think that you are a force to contend with, if they ever read it.”
The most resounding advise spoke to honesty: “You don’t ever want to mislead people because they’ll sniff you out,” Leinonen said. He encouraged participants to exclude anything that couldn’t be concretely backed up.