Small business may seem competitive enough, without entering an actual competition, but organized contests can do a lot for your enterprise. Small business competitions can provide prestige, widespread exposure and most importantly: cash prizes. As small businesses find themselves increasingly strapped for cash, the bounty may inject a much-needed boost to your cash flow. After all, prizes can climb to six-digit figures.
If the thought of more customers and more cash is bringing out your competitive side, here is a guide to upcoming small business competitions.
Small Business Competitions: In It To Win It
The Cleantech Open Accelerator & Competition
Since the first competition in 2006, the Cleantech Open has awarded over $5 million worth of cash and services to small businesses, and these enterprises subsequently raised over $680 million in capital. Innovative businesses that can help solve urgent environmental issues will compete for the cash prize and industry training.
Eligibility: Applications must fit one of the six designated technology categories. The enterprise must be a startup with less than $1 million from private third-party funding and $5 million from other sources of funding. Teams must be at least two people, and at least one team member must be a U.S. resident, citizen or legal alien.
Prize: Up to $100,000
Entry date: May 8 submission deadline
Business Plan Competition by NewSpace
Newspace’s ultimate goal is space settlement, and they want to encourage small businesses whose products and technologies can eventually contribute to that aim. Designed for companies in the seed, start-up or early growth stages, this competition will reward companies that can add to NewSpace’s mission.
Eligibility: Companies must be at least 51% owned by U.S. citizens.
Prize: $100,000 Grand Prize; $10,000 Second Place
Entry dates: May 25 submission deadline (recently extended)
Love a Local Business Competition by Intuit
The popular accounting software provider is offering a competition for local businesses. Simply submit a short presentation on why you love serving your customers, then start campaigning for votes. The ultimate winner is chosen by raffle, and each vote increases your chances of winning!
Eligibility: This contest is only open to citizens of the United States over 18 years old. The business must have fewer than 50 employees at the time of entry.
Entry dates: A different winner is chosen each month from April to July. View the upcoming competitions on the rule page here.
Home-based 100 by StartupNation
Charity starts at home, but so do small businesses. StartupNation is rewarding high-performing, home-based entrepreneurs in ten distinct categories, from the greenest company to “Savviest in Social Media.”
Eligibility: Your business must be home-based, have a website and fit one of the designated categories
Prize: Prestige and exposure on popular news outlets such as MSN
Entry dates: Contest begins in July
This list of nationwide competitions is by no means exhaustive. Small businesses should also keep a competitive eye out for local and state-based contests. For example, CNN Money lists the Minnesota Cup and MADE in Missouri as upcoming competitions. You know your small business excels—now it’s time to show the world.