Wanted: Winning business plans

Enter FORTUNE Small Business's annual competition by June 11. Winners will be featured in FSB.


(FSB) -- Have you created an outstanding business plan? Then you may be eligible to compete for recognition in FORTUNE Small Business's annual business-plan contest.

To uncover the nation's most promising entrepreneurs, we are running our fifth annual business plan competition. The contest is open to legal U.S. residents who are 18 and older. Entrepreneurs in any industry may participate. The winners will be featured in FORTUNE Small Business magazine.

This year's event will be a pro-am style contest. Participants in campus business plan competitions are eligible to enter, as in the past. And for the first time, students who have not participated in a business plan contest - but have a letter of recommendation from an attorney, CPA or venture capitalist who has advised them on their plan - may enter.

We have also, for the first time, opened the contest to entrepreneurs who aren't affiliated with a campus competition. To enter, entrepreneurs must have either participated in a business-plan contest in the U.S. - or supply us with a letter of recommendation from an attorney, CPA or venture capitalist who has advised them on their plan. Entrepreneurs who run companies with 100 employees or less are eligible to compete.

For complete details, please see our rules. To see an abbreviated version of our coverage of last year's contest, go to Battle of the business plans:

How the contest works

1. Entrants must complete the entry form (which can be downloaded here) and submit it to us with their business plan and, if applicable, a letter of recommendation from an attorney, CPA or venture capitalist who has advised them on their plan. The deadline is June 11. For details on how and where to submit the plan, see our rules.

2. In Round One, the FSB staff will select the top five student entrants and the top five non-student entrants to compete in round two of the competition. The magazine staff will base its selections on the strength of the management team (30%), the viability of the submission (30%), the thoroughness of the submission (20%) and the newsworthiness of the business concept (20%).

3. Our team of judges will evaluate the top 10 submissions based on the strength of the management team (40%), the viability of the submission (40%) and the thoroughness of the submission (20%).

4. One representative from each of the top three student teams and from the top three non-student teams will be eligible to travel to the final round of the competition on Sept. 7 at our expense. They will be asked to give a three-minute pitch describing their business. They will then be asked to answer two surprise questions on their business plan, submitted by one of the opposing teams. (For details on who may represent an entering team, please see our rules.)

The judges will score each team based on the credibility (40%), clarity (30%) and presence (30%) of the team representative.

5. To determine each entrant's ultimate ranking, we will add the scores for rounds one, two and three to come up with one-third of the final score. The remaining two-thirds of the score will be based equally on the overall quality of the entrant's submission and the entrant's ability to execute it.

6. We will announce the winners in the November issue of the magazine.

Among this year's judges are the venture capitalists Philip Bronner, Jennifer Fonstad, Michael Greeley, Darryl Wash and Ann Winblad; banker Maria Coyne and entrepreneurs Kay Koplovitz, Verne Harnish and Stephen Watkins.

If you have any questions on the rules, please contact contest organizer Elaine Pofeldt, Senior Editor at FORTUNE Small Business magazine, at fsb_studentshowdown@fortunemail.comTop of page

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Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.