A recent article in the Wall Street Journal had a headline that disturbed me: “[Business Plan] Competitions Might Not be Worth the Effort.” It goes on to tell the stories of disappointed entrepreneurs who didn’t place in the money at business plan competitions.

Some would say  they lost because they walked away without a dime. But I strongly disagree: business plan competitions are critical in helping new business owners achieve their goals. Not only does it provide impetus for them to sit down and actually write a plan, they can also receive invaluable feedback from the judges. As Mike Miller, chief executive and founder of NxtMile LLC said in the article, “It will be nice if they write you a check, but more importantly, they may see an opportunity that you have missed.”

Miller is right. When entering a business plan competition, think of any money you may receive as an unexpected bonus. Go into it with the attitude that it will give you a chance to refine (or create) a business plan, and get constructive criticism from experts. Anything else is just gravy.

For all of you aspiring entrepreneurs with brilliant business ideas, the Entrepreneur Advancement Center will be holding its first ever business plan competition open to the general public. Visit www.goentrepreneurs.org, or check back here for more details. Lorraine will be among the judges, and I know she would love to read your plan.