By Shiloh Perry
The American Farm Bureau is now accepting applications for the 2018 Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge. The Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge is a national business competition focused exclusively on rural entrepreneurs working in food and agriculture related businesses. It allows individuals in rural America to craft their innovative ideas into profitable businesses through mentorship and financial assistance. Rural entrepreneurs will compete for $145,000 in startup funds and receive advice on their business ventures from proven leaders in business development and the agribusiness industry.
Are you ready to be the next Rural Entrepreneur of the Year? As you get ready to apply for the Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge, keep in mind that your great business idea alone won’t set you apart from the pack. If you’ve got the drive and ingenuity to run your own business, you’re half way there. To take your application across the finish line, here are three ways to make sure your business stands out.
1. Communicate your difference.
The Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge calls entrepreneurs to dive deeper into their businesses and think strategically about what they do. Initially you have to explain the purpose of your business and why it is important. The challenge application goes a step further and asks you about the specifics of your business plan and target audience. When conveying this information on the application, it is important to communicate what sets your business apart from your competitors. You need to specifically explain what makes your business unique and how you provide customers with a better product than they can get elsewhere.
2. Know your numbers.
An important part of any business is its operating budget and revenue sources. As entrepreneurs, you know an operating budget is vital to the daily functions of your business and ultimately its plan for expansion. It is important to explain your numbers on the application and show that your business is prepared for growth. Specifically, explain numbers like your cost of production, current investments and working capital on hand. The challenge offers a chance for you to expand your business and knowing your numbers allows you to take advantage of opportunities that arise throughout the competition.
3. Be yourself.
The challenge not only celebrates your entrepreneurial spirit, but how you express that spirit through your passion for rural innovation. As one of the only national business competitions for rural entrepreneurs, the judges want to see you, your passion for your business and how it helps rural America. Be yourself, be authentic. Let your strengths shine through on the application when explaining your business idea and plan. Do not be afraid to share your story.
Applications for AFBF’s 2018 Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge will be accepted online through June 30, 2017, at www.strongruralamerica.com. Businesses must be for-profit and entrepreneurs must be Farm Bureau members. They will compete to be one of four finalists that receive $15,000. Finalist go on to compete at AFBF’s 2018 Annual Convention for additional funding, the title of Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year and the People’s Choice award. The Entrepreneur of the Year will receive $30,000 and the People’s Choice award winner will receive $25,000.
New this year are six best-of-show categories – best farm startup, agritourism startup, farm-to-table startup, ag tech and support services startup, craft beverage startup and local product startup. Each best-of-show winner will receive $10,000.
The Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge is part of AFBF’s Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative, which provides startup and investment funding, networking opportunities and visibility for America’s hardworking rural entrepreneurs. It also strives to educate rural Americans on venture capital and business training. For more information on the challenge or AFBF’s Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative visit www.strongruralamerica.com or contact Lisa Benson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Communications Assistant, AFBF