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Biz Planning: To Enter or Not to Enter?
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Focus Your Plan By Entering Business Competitions

The idea of writing a strong business plan can be daunting for new entrepreneurs–something akin to a root canal. But thanks to a new trend, entrepreneurs can now enter business plan contests that guarantee every entrant is a winner.

A business plan competition is designed to help entrepreneurs develop and refine a business idea. A contest can prod an entrepreneur to move forward, with the enticement of prizes in the form of cash, products or services.

The beauty of a business plan contest, (a competition usually sponsored by business development centers, colleges, universities, for-profit and non-profit groups) is that even if an entrant doesn’t receive first, second, third prize, they still leave the competition having won something critically important: clear, detailed, objective written advice and feedback from small business experts.

So if you find yourself dragging your feet at the prospect of writing a good business plan, consider entering a business plan competition. It’s no contest.

Heather Taylor, Guest Blogger
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Branding: How Do Others See You?
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What’s Your Personal Brand?

When we think about branding we primarily think about our product or service but we must also begin to focus on our self-branding.  Just like branding speaks volumes for your product or services, you as a brand speak volumes also.  Take a minute to see what your self-brand say about you.  Does it compliment your product or service or does it clash?  Is your self-brand consistent or unstable? 

When working with a recording artist for a record label we help to assure that the client’s brand is consistent with their current CD project throughout the project’s tenure.  It does not make good marketing sense to brand a rock artist with short, purple hair, sporting rock garb to have all of their collateral marketing materials including the CD cover and headshots showcase a black updo hair style with couture, double breasted suit, wearing stilettos.  This is an example of bad self-branding.  This process creates so many misconceptions and confusion for the potential target audience; you never know what you are getting from the artist, before you buy.

Sometimes it is your self-brand that sell people.  Most people like consistency.  They do business based on this consistency.  For a lot of people too many changes frighten them.  If there are many, major changes with your self-brand, people tend to feel that you are confused even when it could be them that are confused.  Also your self-brand easily identifies you in a large room or unfamiliar setting.  Take this time to stop and think about your self-brand; what does it say about you?  Do people know your product or service by your self-brand or do you need to reintroduce yourself, your product or services everytime you see them? 

People don’t realize it but the entertainment industry may seem large but it is actually small.  I personally will never forget when I walked into a room with several of the industry’s heavy hitters and as I proceeded to introduce myself I was told that my self-brand spoke volumes and I should never have to think those in the industry will forget me.  And he was right.  No matter what industry I work in every time people see me they know who I am, my self-brand does speak volumes.

So ask yourself what is my self-brand?  How do others see me?  Am I reflecting what I want them to know about me, my product or service? Or do I have to reintroduce myself everytime they see me?

Vernita Naylor, Ft. Worth SCORE
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