On February 27, I participated in an unprecedented event that took place in Cornwall. The Eagle’s Nest Business Plan Competition’s Grand Finale was the culminating point of a series of events, the last of many milestones that took place over the last 4 months.
I was asked, back in October, to sit on a board of panelists put in place to judge the “Eagle’s Nest Business Plan Competition”. I immediately agreed. It seemed like such a good fit for me, being that Cornwall had been so good to my business(es) over the 6 years that I have made it my home. Cornwall loves new business ventures. I’d be willing to bet that we produce more entrepreneurs per capita than any bigger city in the area. Maybe it’s just my perception but I saw, in this opportunity, a way for me to give back to the community.
We met several new small business owners, many of whom had innovative and original ideas. I always had a soft heart for artists, and I know how difficult it is to turn art into a successful business venture. I see it everyday. Artists come to me for advice but have no money to market themselves. Their sales are so far and few in between that it is a challenge for any of them to expand. After all, it’s not like a painter can train somebody to do paintings like they do. A Picasso done by me wouldn’t hold any value. An artist has a unique feel and can’t be replaced. That’s a good thing. But in a competition where you are being judged on the viability and potential of growth of your business idea, it doesn’t exactly score points.
And that probably is why this decision was so hard to come to…
Specific criteria was being looked at in addition to the initial business plan: viability, possibility for expansion, immediate use of the money were some of the most important. It’s not that the two finalists who came in last were not deserving of the prize money– they are extraordinary individuals who are GREAT at what they do and the mere fact that they made it this far speaks volumes on the quality of their work. It’s just that the ones who came in first, second and third knew their business plans in depth. They knew their numbers and knew exactly where the money was going to go. They had a clear vision of where they want to be in 3 years, 5 years, 10 years. They had a clear time frame for implementation. Their ideas might not have been the most unique, but they had a plan and stuck to it.
The judges looked at the facts objectively. “The decision was a difficult one as I know each one of the finalists personally.” says Brock Frost, judge and president of the Frost Group. ”However, business is business and I had to pick the top three who I felt had a compelling case. I am confident in my decision.”
As a judge myself, I couldn’t agree more. I too had to put my feelings aside to deliberate. Had I let bias enter the equation, the results would have been entirely different.
Finalists were :