Photo Caption: Mr. Adam Allen & Ms. Beth Goldsby (center)
Jacqueline S. Bullard
The Community College of Baltimore County is committed to preparing its students to succeed academically and beyond. To do this, CCBC has provided a creative and lucrative way to encourage budding entrepreneurs to get their proverbial feet wet and dive into the world of being a business owner.
CCBC isn’t just providing the opportunity by way of management classes; the CCBC Center for Business Innovation, whose mission includes helping, “CCBC students and alumni who are interested in developing an entrepreneurial mindset,” have put their money where their mouth is. They have created a business plan competition to create a sense of urgency that is sure to motivate aspiring business owners into action. Dubbed “it’s our version of the TV show, “Shark Tank” where participants (can potentially) earn a total of $28,500 in seed money to get started!”
This is CCBC’s 5th Annual Business Plan Competition. The project director of the program is Tammira Lucas and the sponsors are The Philip E. & Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation, Chick-fil-A, CCBC Alumni Association, The Business Club, and CCBC Foundation, Inc.
The competition is exclusively open to CCBC students and alumni, “who want to turn their next big idea into a real business.”
Here’s how it works. Participants are encouraged to attend a series of boot-camp like workshops that are designed to get them thinking and focused on the various elements that need to go into a business plan.
To kick things off, a three-hour “Small Business Startup Workshop” is held that provides an overview of the business plan competition. Three subsequent two-hour workshops are held on Saturday mornings that tackle three crucial topics, one topic at a time. The topics are: strategic planning, market planning, and last, but most important, financial planning.
Hopeful attendees, Adam Allen and Beth Goldsby, shared how helpful the workshops have been. Adam, a.k.a. “Mr. Tombstone” shared that he is “learning what my market is, and focusing on their (the market’s) needs.”
The highly interactive and informative workshops are facilitated by entrepreneur, business owner, Project Executive Director, Professor Dennis Sullivan.
Prof. Sullivan cautions participants that, “typically business plans that are submitted without a financial plan are not even considered.”
Like Gideon’s army, the majority of the participants who throw their proverbial hat into the ring will be disqualified early on after the submission of the abbreviated version of the business plan.
Only a dozen participants will be invited to pitch their business idea to the panel of judges. Ultimately, six participants will emerge victorious and share in the winning proceeds totaling $28,500.
The top winner will walk away with $10,000 in seed money. The remaining funds will be shared among the other five winners. The six winners will then be matched with mentors, “which include business owners from the community and CCBC faculty, to offer guidance, coaching, and advice.”
This component of the competition is what sets it apart from similar competitions. Winners will also participate in a three-credit course, MNGT 216 – Seminar in Entrepreneurship. It’s clear that all six finalists in the CCBC Business Plan Competition will emerge big winners.
After attending the workshops, anyone who is remotely serious about starting a business will receive invaluable information to move forward with or without the prized seed money. And, those who are not chosen as the top six will have the option to participate again the following year.
The deadline to participate in this year’s business plan competition has come and gone. However, it’s never too early to begin cultivating the business ideas that have been incubating for years.
The CCBC Center for Innovation has done all the hard work. They have gathered all the necessary pieces to make this competition a win / win and worth the time and effort needed to compete.
There are things that anyone who is interested in competing next year can do now. On top of the list would be to visit the Center for Innovation and gather as much information as possible.
Contacting the business club is another good idea. Zeroing in on that business idea would be smart, as well. Maybe you are like many entrepreneurs and you have more than one big idea. Prof. Sullivan suggests that people who are finding it difficult to focus on one idea should, “choose the one idea that they are most passionate about.”
For more information about CCBC’s Annual Business Plan Competition, contact Prof Dennis Sullivan at DSullivan2@ccbcmd.edu to have your questions answered.