Enter These Contests To Win Big Money and Sharpen Your Small Business Skills

Business Contest bus

On the bus.

To the 1960’s “Love Generation,” the phrase referred to Ken Kesey’s infamous drug-addled cross-country trip with the self-proclaimed Merry Pranksters.

Today anyone using the phrase is more likely referring to the StartupBus which takes groups of entrepreneurs, software developers, and designers on a once-a-year journey of designing products and business models. The trip ends with a contest where the best concept wins.

Interesting historical footnote: The San Francisco Bay Area lays claim as the starting point for both today’s “buspreneurs” and the ’64 Merry Pranksters.

It’s too late to jump on this year’s StartupBus and try to take the top prize. It left Baghdad By The Bay on June 4 heading for a June 8 arrival in Music City, aka Nashville. However, there’s always next year, so keep tabs on the event.

But, if you’re itching to test yourself against other great minds in the startup world – or even more generally against other small businesses – there are always events going on. They can be national, regional or local. I encourage you to consider getting yourself involved in a contest. They sharpen the mind and can be a quick way to eliminate bad ideas and lousy designs. Even if you don’t win, you emerge with a much better idea of the standards that determine the best business concepts and management practices.

We recently ran an article by Cliff Ennico where he runs through the logic he used when he recently judged the Connecticut Business Plan Competition. Getting that kind of feedback can be priceless. Here are some more opportunities:

Shark Tank. Let’s be honest, this is the golden unicorn of entrepreneurial challenges and few make the cut. If you think you have what it takes, start by skimming this article that probes the show’s supervising casting producer to uncover the secrets for making the cut.

Sage Small Business of the Year. There are weekly winners ($650-plus each) and a grand-prize winner ($19,000-plus) in this yearly contest put on by Sage. I’m proud to be a partner in the event, along with several notable companies.

The 5-Day Big Brand Challenge. Sponsored by Bplans and PrestoBox. June 8 is the start date for this five-day event. You receive an email with advice and exercises for you to do. You submit before and after stories. Winners will be selected who receive branding packs from Presto Brand with their choice of logo, brand guide, or business card files custom designed. A free webinar pulls everything together.

Flo’s 2015 Fabulous Food Truck Contest. Three prizes – from $2,500 to $10,000 – will be awarded in this contest sponsored by Progressive Commercial Auto. It’s for food truck operators and is more of a popularity contest than critically judged event. Entries are accepted until June 30.

Miller Lite Tap the Future. The entry period for this one has passed, but bookmark it for next year. In the world of prize money, Miller Lite is more filling, awarding entrepreneurs more than $200,000 to fund their startups.

There are many more opportunities out there. Do a search for terms like “business contests, “startup contests,” and “contests for entrepreneurs.” Do those same searches but add your state or city to get additional results that are more local.

Good luck.

Sponsored by AT&T

Image: Further-5, by Visitor7, [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.