By Jason Emerson
New and established entrepreneurs are invited to enter an upcoming competition in which they will not only learn how to define, market and sustain a successful small business, but they could win up to $1,000 in business seed money in the process.
The Onondaga Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Rural Pitch Competition offers participants three nights of classroom learning with small business experts, followed by an opportunity to give a 15-minute “pitch” for funding to help start a new business or to enhance an existing business. Three prizes will be awarded for $250, $500 and $1,000.
“The premise of this competition is to bring economic development awareness and services to individuals and small businesses in Madison County,” said Melissa Zomro Davis, a certified business advisor with Onondaga SBDC who is spearheading the competition. “My hope is that through these classes and this competition, we provide participants with the skills and the tools they need to be successful with their venture — and also help give them some seed money.”
The Madison County competition (there are also competitions in Cayuga and Cortland counties) is open to established businesses or in the process of starting a business. Applicants must reside in the county in which the competition is being held and are required to attend all workshop sessions in order to compete.
The workshop sessions will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. every Thursday of September (7, 14, 21 and 28) at Morrisville Cornell Cooperative Extension, 100 Eaton St., Morrisville.
The classes will be facilitated by Davis and Jennifer Farwell, agriculture economic development educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Madison County, and will include guest lecturers.
“This competition will be really great for businesses that are just getting started or existing businesses that are trying to diversify into something different,” Farwell said. “Not only can they gain skills and knowledge, but it will be fun and also offer some good networking opportunities.”
The Sept. 7 workshop will be on the subject of defining your business — what do you do, why do it, what are the goals and objectives of business.
The Sept. 14 workshop will be about marketing — how do you market, who is your target client, narrowing your field and defining your marketing plan.
The Sept. 21 workshop will cover financials — how much money do you need to start a business, what is your existing cash flow, what are your financial projections and, if you win the competition cash prizes, how will it impact your business?
The Sept. 28 session will be devoted to participants giving their pitches to a panel of expert judges and awarding the winners: $1,000 for first prize, $500 for second prize and $250 for third prize.
“We are very excited about this competition,” Davis said. “We want participants to implement what they learn through this course and hopefully decide to open their business in Madison County or expand their current business here.
The rural pitch competition application is due Aug. 31. A welcome correspondence will be sent out to all applicants who meet the requirements on Sept. 1.
Visit the Onondaga SBDC website to complete the application at onondagasbdc.org/rural-pitch-competition.html
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.