Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Boost Your Business Small Biz Plan Competition

I have been in an entrepreneurial mood lately and have stumbled across some different sources of inspiration. The Boost Your Business competition is one of those sources of inspiration. Basically various small businesses are competing with your help for the chance to win $100,000 to help launch their businesses and/or take their businesses to the next level.

On the line: $50,000 in cash, and $50,000 in advertising on Forbes.com. Twenty semi-finalists remain. Now our discerning readers will choose who will survive to compete in the final round. To make your choices, peruse the contestants' 500-word write-ups (by clicking the "Read more" link) and watch their 30-second "elevator pitch" videos. Your goal: to choose the companies with the most promising growth prospects, if they were given a bit of nourishing investment capital. You may vote for a maximum of five finalists. A leader board will track the top five names in real time. The polls close September 30, 2009. In the meantime, stay tuned to Forbes.com to track your candidates' progress.

You can read all the business plans on Forbes and vote for your top five plans by clicking here. There are definitely some cool ideas. I am always amazed at the power of entrepreneurship. Every time I read a good business idea I get the same feeling. It is that feeling that I should have thought of that. The ideas seem so simple and so obvious. However, it is often not the idea but the ability to bring it to fruition. That is one of the things I am most proud about Checking For Charity is the fact that we actually made it happen. I have been getting the entrepreneurial itch again lately and am looking to venture into the profit world this time. I have a few ideas, none that are absolutely mind blowing in my opinion, however I think I will just take the same approach as I did with Checking For Charity.

1. Come up with a good idea
2. Think it through by yourself
3. After you have developed it and fanned the flames of desire to bring it to life, tell some people about it and see what they say. Often their initial reactions will bring to light different barriers or opportunities that you never thought of.
4. Find a team. Working by yourself sucks. At least it does for me. I can't seem to accomplish anything by myself, and if I could I probably wouldn't enjoy it as much.
5. Jump. That's right. Just jump. You are never going to be truly ready. You are never going to have the answers. You are never going to (nor should you want to) stick to the original idea. It will grow as you grow through the process.

Here is a sample of the short 500 word business plan pitch of one of my favorites from the contest. I might start writing my business ideas in this format. A large business plan is great to work out ideas, but I am a believer in the Warren Buffett-esque approach to business. He only invests in businesses he can understand. I plan to only create businesses I can understand. Keeping it simple:

Healthy Life Screening performs preventive cardiovascular screens at corporate work sites. We detect early problems in seemingly healthy workers and their families to prevent both chronic health problems and corporate medical claims. Companies of all sizes can participate at no cost, or by subsidizing. One constant in reducing health care costs is in prevention. There are 75 million working people in geographies that can be reached with mobile screenings. At a $200 price point, the total market is $15 billion.

Business Model

Cardiovascular Screens fall into the voluntary, self-pay sector of health care. Heart disease is the No.1 killer in America--and together with cardiovascular conditions causes a disproportionate amount of health insurance claims. Historically, people have not had early screenings because they were not-accessible, not covered by insurance, not-convenient and/or not safe. Healthy Life Screening has addressed all these barriers. Individuals pay directly, but can use tax-favored plans (FSA, HSA) to pay for screens. Corporations have experienced at least 3-to-1 return on investment in health care cost savings when they subsidize. We are working to get insurance companies to recognize and reward early detection.


The business has been funded by the founders and with an early-stage venture capital contribution. It is anticipated to be cash-flow positive by 12/31/09.


Healthy Life is currently the only known company to go to the work site with a dedicated staff for marketing and education of workers, as well as conducting the medical tests. When average people are exposed to the on-site workshops (giving the complete picture), an average of 35% of them will choose to be screened.

Other key differentiators

Fast: Workers can be back on the job within 35 minutes; Inexpensive:$200 vs. $2,000 for the same tests in hospitals; Safe: Ultrasound technology has no known side effects; Confidential: HIPAA compliant reports sent direct to the workers; Turn key: All marketing, registration, processing and reporting--no work for companies; Automated: Proprietary systems for uploading and reading tests; Efficient: Proprietary medical staffing models and protocols.

Years of Relevant Experience

President/CFO--Managing medical screenings for 11 years. Financial/entrepreneurial experience spans 30 years. CEO--Medical industry sales/marketing 15 years. Serial entrepreneur sold last medical services company to Fortune 1000 company. VP Operations--Managing mobile medical operations 10 years.

Plan for $100,000

Cash would be used to create an interactive Web site to permit online scheduling and a password-protected FTP site to allow people to access their results and access condition-specific education. Advertising would be specifically targeted to educate corporate decision makers that this service is available, and to drive them to the Web site for more information.

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