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Features Business plan competition kicks off

The Macon County Business Plan Competition kicked off last Thursday at Macon Bank's corporate office where an open session was held to allow potential business operators the chance to ask questions of successful business owners from the area. The Macon County Economic Development Commission, the Certified Entrepreneurial Community Leadership Team, SiteDart, Southwestern Community College and Western Carolina University have all come together in order to see the competition through.

Each panelist – Cory McCall, coowner of Outdoor 76, Judy Michaud Meadows, owner of Mountain Realty, and Debra Green of Luxury Therapeutics – stressed the importance of having a business plan to those who were in attendance.

“We did have a business plan in place before we opened our doors. We had a mentor group for our business,” said McCall. “We had five gentlemen that we entrusted with our idea, expressed different information to and they obviously encouraged us to take the step of using a business plan. It has been a huge benefit for our business from page one. It's something that I express to a number of individuals who come to me with business ideas. What I always say to these individuals is put it on paper. Fortunately for us I can say that our business plan has kept us on track, though it has changed and it is nothing like it started, a business plan is constantly revisited.”

“At first we didn't have a business plan," said Green. "We approached some local retail businesses and we knew that we could get bigger with our idea, but we didn't know how to do it. We realized that we needed to take a business planning class in order to pull it together and when we did it, it opened our eyes so much because we had been targeting the wrong market. We just didn't realize the potential.”

Meadows, an experienced real estate agent who decided to strike out on her own didn't begin with a plan either, but soon decided to develop one.

Tommy Dennison of WCU’s Small Business and Technology Development Center leads the Q & A at the kickoff of the Business Plan Competition.“At the end of 2010, there was a lot of fall out. A lot of realtors and companies went out of business. We decided to develop a business plan,” Meadows said. “It has helped us achieve some goals; we had not set goals previously. It helped us stay focused on where we wanted to be. It helped us figure out how to survive. My only regret is that I wasn't aware of all of this help locally.”

The session was the introduction to the Macon County Business 2014 Plan Competition, a competition that will award its winner with $5,000 on April 24 of next year. The competition is a project of the Macon County Certified Entrepreneurial Community Leadership Team and encourages small business owners or those who aspire to be to participate.

Those who wish to compete are required to submit a written business plan of at least three typed pages and include primary products/services, management/ownership, financial projections and one to three years of cash flow. Once all of the requirements are met, participants must be prepared to present their business plan in ten minutes or less in the occurrence that they are chosen as finalists. The finalists will be required to present their plans and then a winner will be chosen.

“We're really excited that we're going to be able to offer a significant cash prize that will help the winners of this competition move forward with their business,” said EDC director Tommy Jenkins. “I anticipate a lively competition over the next few months.”

Eligibility and guidelines are as follows:

  • Must be a resident of Western North Carolina.
  • Must be 18 years of age or older.
  • Your business must be located in Macon County.
  • Existing businesses must be established for no more than six months.
  • New businesses must be opened and in operation in less than twelve months.
  • A formal application must be submitted by Feb. 3, 2014.

Throughout the months leading up to the announcement of a winner, there will be free offerings from the Small Business Center of Southwestern Community College.

January 13
NC REAL Session #1
“Am I Entrepreneurial Material”
Location: SCC Macon Campus, Room 215

January 20
NC REAL Session #2
“Business Plan Development and Zero In on Your Market”
Location: SCC Macon Campus, Room 215

January 27
NC REAL Session #3
“Business Simulation”

February 3
Application Deadline

February 10
NC REAL Session #4
“Marketing Mix”
Location: SCC Macon Campus, Room 215

February 17
NC REAL Session #5
“Business Analysis & Operation”
Location: SCC Macon Campus, Room 215

March 3
NC REAL Session #6
“Financials For Small Business”
Location: SCC Macon Campus, Room 215

March 10
NC REAL Session #7
“Taxes & Bookkeeping Basics in Small Business”
Location: SCC Macon Campus, Room 215

March 17
NC REAL Session #8
“Business Plan Presentations”
Location: SCC Macon Campus, Room 215

March 31
Deadline for ALL Business Plan entries

Week of April 7
Business Plans will be reviewed

Week of April 14
Finalists will present their plan

April 24
Business Plan Competition Winner will be announced at Macon County EDC Banquet

For more information, visit http://www.maconedc.com/.


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