Participating in the Ropp Triplett Business Plan Competition has exceeded all of my expectations. And that’s speaking as someone who has watched and supported past competitions conducted by the Bluffton Center for Entrepreneurs. The opportunity to fully develop a business plan and to interact with so many talented and engaged people has been phenomenal.
When I sat down at the first class with instructor Kathy Keller of the Small Business Development Center at Rhodes State College, I knew what the business plan outline looked like. I knew that I would have hours of research and evenings of homework ahead of me. But the ideas I developed and the areas that were most challenging? Those discoveries were eye-opening.
My interests and skills were the same six months ago, but I needed a more detailed road map for my business and a concise statement of my mission as a content manager for businesses and nonprofits.
I love providing a wide range of services for my clients and they dominate the top of my to-do list. That is to say, some aspects of my own business needed a little attention. Participating in the business plan gave me a framework and a timetable for writing a full business plan.
As Kathy explained to our class, many business owners and prospective entrepreneurs simply don’t finish the process. The SBDC class walks you through the process–at a pretty brisk pace–and gives you professional guidance on issues like naming, target market research, pricing, and financing.
I also gained insight from my classmates in the startup division: Ted Spencer of Winding Road Sales (Wapakoneta, Ohio) and Amy and Mark Hilan of Easter House Bed and Breakfast (Ada, Ohio). Every week, we provided each other with feedback and discussed the challenges of our very different lines of business.
We worked alongside participants in the established business category: Marlena Ballinger of The Dough Hook and Raymond and Liz Harner of CG Pro Bikes. And Laura Voth, a Bluffton Center for Entrepreneurs board member and CEO of the Mennonite Home Communities of Ohio, attended the class and engaged with us every step of the way.
This is the sixth business plan competition conducted by Bluffton Center for Entrepreneurs (BCE). This year there was a total of $7,000 in prizes plus additional promotional and networking opportunities. On March 24, the BCE held the first annual Bluffton Oscars Mix & Mingle event to announce the winners of the competition and to give area businesses an opportunity to showcase their products and services. The Bluffton Area Chamber of Commerce and The Centre of Bluffton were co-sponsors.
The competition and business expo were planned and conducted by BCE executive director Fred Steiner and graduate assistant Aphaphanh Nussbaum. Board president Brendon Matthews, EVP/Senior Lender at First National Bank of Pandora, served as a guest instructor and event presenter. I feel very fortunate to be developing my business in the company of such supportive members of the business community.
This spirit was encouraged by the late Ropp Triplett, the former president of Triplett Corporation for whom the competition is named. Ropp’s interest in Bluffton never flagged and his enjoyment in helping others continues to inspire my work.
To my classmates, congratulations! We did it! To Kathy, Aphaphanh, Fred, Brendon, and judges Colleen Lazar of Blanchard Valley Health Foundation and Marathana Prothro of Bluffton University, thank you so very much.
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