By Shiloh Perry
Entrepreneurs are by nature innovative: they put everything into their business ideas and thrive on their commitment to success, despite any challenges or risks they face along the way. The entrepreneurial spirit is an important part of our nation’s success in today’s global marketplace. The American Farm Bureau Federation understands this and believes in the power and ingenuity of rural entrepreneurs.
Rural entrepreneurs are uniquely positioned to address the challenges facing their communities and have the potential to boost their local economies. Through Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative programs, AFBF helps provide rural entrepreneurs with the resources they need to be successful. So far more than 1,000 businesses in 37 states have been helped through various REI projects.
The 10 top teams for the 2018 Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge were announced this week at AFBF headquarters in Washington, D.C. Six best-in-show teams received $10,000 in startup funds. Four finalist teams received $15,000 and will advance to the next phase of competition at AFBF’s 2018 Annual Convention in Nashville. Through AFBF’s Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge, entrepreneurs compete for up to $145,000 in startup funds. While not every contestant will walk away with a cash award or the title of Rural Entrepreneur of the Year, all gain valuable experiences and networking opportunities that can help turn their innovative ideas into profitable businesses.
1. The Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge helps sharpen a business plan.
A major component of the Challenge application is the submission of a business plan. No matter how far along a business is in its development process, there is always room for improvement. While rethinking their business plans, applicants may come up with a more efficient organizational structure, new funding request options and better financial projections. The Challenge’s business plan criteria come directly from the Small Business Administration. As a result, properly completed business plan submissions are competitive against similar business ventures in other industries.
2. The Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge helps perfect the business pitch.
Another component of the Challenge application is a three-minute video pitch. The video pitch is a way for applicants to share the mission and value of their business. It is a chance to explain a business’s competitive advantage against similar products on the market. Perfecting their business pitch helps applicants figure out the best way to explain and market their product to potential clients, customers and investors. Knowing how to articulate a business idea and what that business can provide will really set it apart from competitors.
3. The Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge gives insight into the entrepreneurial world.
AFBF’s Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative gives Challenge applicants access to business expertise and networking opportunities with other entrepreneurs. Through an informational newsletter and business trainings, applicants learn about ways to improve their businesses. The knowledge applicants gain from competing is invaluable. Often times, the Challenge is one of the first places rural business ventures get noticed by, receive feedback from and connect with business experts outside their local communities.
For more on this year’s Challenge finalists and AFBF’s Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative visit www.strongruralamerica.com.
Communications Assistant, AFBF