Five reasons entrepreneurs should enter business competitions

As an entrepreneur you are often expected to fulfil many roles within your enterprise, leaving you with little to no time to focus on activities that don’t directly contribute to the bottom line or improve your business in the short term. Business competitions are usually grouped into the non-essential category because of the perceived admin of entering. But they could be just what your business needs to take it to the next level – providing important opportunities to grow your business through additional media exposure and capital, mentorship as well as serving as a benchmark for business growth. 

Gugu Mjadu, spokesperson for the 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, says that apart from the cash prize money, which can be put towards funding the growth of the business, entering a business competition allows entrepreneurs to gain a different perspective of their businesses, which can prove to be more valuable than funding.

This is the aim of the Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, says Mjadu. “While the competition offers winning entrants prizes valued at over R2 million – with cash prizes of R70 000 for each main category winner, and R200 000 for the overall winner – winners will also receive valuable mentorship support including a diagnostic analysis of the business, networking opportunities and national media exposure.”

“It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day running of a business and get distracted with the various tasks and challenges. Presenting a business to a judging panel not only forces you to reflect on your enterprise, but also exposes you to experts who can analyse it and point out aspects that you may have overlooked during the rush of running and managing your own company.”

Mjadu adds that as access to capital to grow a business is considered one of the top challenges for many entrepreneurs, taking part in a business competition is one of the most cost-effective measures to grow awareness of the business without dipping into the business’ resources for marketing.

Mjadu shares five reasons why entrepreneurs should consider entering a business competition:

1. The cash prize money

While not the most important aspect in the greater scheme for the business, a cash lump sum offers you the potential to either pay off existing business finance debt or use the capital to expand the current business or fund new avenues.

2. Expanded network of likeminded people

A business competition brings together a group of people with the same objective – to build and grow a successful business. Apart from the opportunity to learn from fellow entrepreneurial entrants, you are able to engage with credible business experts and mentors involved in the competition and have the opportunity to draw on their business knowledge and insight. Some business competitions also offer an alumni network that entrepreneurs can tap into for new ideas and wisdom.    

3. Access to business experts and independent analysis of your business

As part of an entry process, the competition judging panel is required to analyse the entrant’s business to gauge worthiness of being named a winner in the competition. Through this process, you get an independent and fresh perspective on your business, as well as learn valuable lessons about your business plan and model. The in-depth judging process allows you to gain greater insight and awareness of opportunities and challenges that exist. While it can be difficult to accept constructive criticism at times, you should embrace the opportunity to have your businesses scrutinised by a group of experts.

4. Acknowledging a business’ true value and capabilities

Entrepreneurial competitions offer the necessary push for you to analyse your own business’ worth. Entrepreneurs are often so involved in the operations of the business, that they don’t realise the true success of the business and what it may be worth. This downplayed perception of success can hinder a business’s growth path and prevent it from capitalising on potential opportunities.

5. Increase the profile of your business

Building a positive reputation is often a key challenge that business owners encounter on their entrepreneurial journey as smaller businesses can’t compete with larger market players’ marketing spend and advertising campaigns. Not only are entrepreneurial competitions cost-effective to enter, but if you reach finalist stage the awareness thereafter can have a significant knock-on effect for your business’ brand and bottom line.

All South African businesses are eligible to enter the free-to-enter 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, now in its 31st year.  Prizes will be awarded across six categories, namely: Overall Entrepreneur of the Year®; Emerging Business Entrepreneur of the Year®; Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year®; Medium Business Entrepreneur of the Year®; Job Creator of the Year; and Innovator of the Year.

The closing date for the competition is 31 May 2019. Entrepreneurs interested in entering the competition can download or complete entry forms online at; the three page document will only take on average 15 minutes to complete. Entrepreneurs can also interact with fellow entrepreneurs and entrants on the competition’s social media platforms and

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