STEUBENVILLE - Entreprenurial wanna-be's and those new to the business world have until Monday to enter the Muskingum County Business Incubator's regional business plan competition.
The competition, now in its seventh year, is open to startups and emerging businesses in existence less than two years. The grand prize winner gets a $5,000 cash award and more than $5,000 in business services; second place will net someone $1,000 in cash and business services.
The contest, sponsored by WesBanco, is open to businesses in MCBI's 10-county service area - Muskingum, Belmont, Guernsey, Noble, Morgan, Harrison, Jefferson, Monroe, Coshocton and Carroll counties - may enter.
To enter, applicants must complete an original business plan, including three-year financial projection; make a 15-minute presentation to a panel of judges; and have a tradeshow booth ready showcasing their business or product.
"Really, we see this as the beginning of a relationship with folks who are interested in starting a business," said MCBI Regional Director Jessica Sherman. "We'll work with them every day, teach them how to do research, identify mentors they just have to complete an entry form and write a brief summary of their business."
Sherman said they get contest entries from across MCBI's service territory.
"We typically average 20-25 entries," she said, pointing out that Jefferson and Muskingum counties are two of the most enthusiastic. "I have to say the chance of winning 1 in 25 is pretty good odds."
She said they've seen a high success rate among the entrants.
"Businesses that entered are still in business today," she said. "Anybody who's been in the competition over the past seven years is still going to be in business."
That's because the MCBI experts are willing to walk entrants through the process form beginning to end, offering training and mentoring opportunities as well as real-time practicing.
"They'll go through practice sessions with mock judges," Sherman said, adding that the program has a proven track record of success.
"Anybody's who's been in the competition the last seven years is still in business," she said, adding that they've gotten as many as 15 entries in one year from Jefferson County residents.
"At the end of the competition, win-lose-or draw, they can take that business plan to the bank. They'll have a business plan completed that will be ready to be presented (to local government leaders)."
She said last year's winner, L.E.ex, LLC, came from a pair of physical therapists who developed a medical device for a company they'd just started. Another past winner involved two sheriff's deputies who designed a service glove with LED lights built in so officers wouldn't have to carry a heavy flashlight when they're moving prisoners or subdue prisoners.
"The best ideas are certainly solutions to problems," she said. "Look at everyday life outside of the job. Chances are there's something you can develop that can solve a problem not just for you, but for others as well."
Sherman said final judging, including the tradeshow, will be Nov. 9. For information visit www.mcbi.info.