I was born in London and not a migrant, however my parents both came from different countries and built their new life here.
I started my training consultancy business around two years ago, and the reason I am writing to you is related to business competitions for winning awards and recognition. I have entered several competitions so far, and believe that I submitted good applications: improving on them each time.
Yet despite the fact that my business is doing well, I have never been selected once to the next stage, and not received any feedback in response to my requests. I am getting frustrated because it is a lot of time and effort put in and I see people winning that don’t appear to have done anything better than what I have achieved.
What is it that the judging panel are looking for that I may have missed? Is there any advice that you could give for me? Should I keep on with entering competitions and would the potential benefits make the persistence worthwhile?
Focus less on the product and more on you, your team, and your customer.
If you haven’t been able to win a business competition yet, it doesn’t mean your business idea is not working. It only shows that you haven’t managed to put yourself in the shoes of the judges on the jury.
I am a regular jury member on many international business competitions, and believe me, what is judged in most competitions is the entrepreneur him / herself – not the business. Judges believe that any business in the world can make money, but the amount of money varies from one entrepreneur to another.
In order to improve your competition scores, the main thing you should concentrate on is showing the jury how capable you are in running your business. To convince the judges, you need to recognise the value of your team mates.
The ability to create an amazing team is something very important for jury members and every judge in business competitions knows that not every entrepreneur is able to assemble an extraordinary team to run the business they propose.
Forget everything else and focus on getting the most amazing people on your team. Make sure you look outside of your closest friends for team mates. Come onto the stage with your team members, and before coming on stage, create a stressful situation where you can see how your teammates are going to react.
Find a perfect marketer to put at the core of the business, to help show the jury members that you know how to make money.
On the other hand, talk to enough people and they know it’s your idea. Set up an advisory board of ten people, each with twenty five years of experience, and who are in leadership positions in their companies. That creates huge credibility.
Teams are naturally going to need a key person, a marketer. Find a perfect marketer to put at the core of the business. This will help show the jury members that you know how to make money.
You also have to demonstrate to the judges that you understand the mind-set of the consumer and that you have used your knowledge and insights to develop your business idea. Don’t forget that jury members like listening to smart pitches from smart people.
Your pitch, your business plan, your business model and you – as a smart entrepreneur – must give the message to the jury members that you are aware that the success of a business depends not on having the greatest product in the world but on having customers for that product.
- Assemble an amazing team
- Set up a credible advisory board
- Show judges that you are a capable entrepreneur
- Show judges you understand the mind-set of your customer
- Show judges you are aware of the fact that ‘no customers means no business’
The entrepreneur who does all these successfully can win the competition.
I wish you all the best
Baybars Altuntas is a Turkish entrepreneur, speaker and author and also a Dragon on ‘Dragon’s Den Turkey’. Send your questions to: