This winter I took advantage of an opportunity to learn tips about opening a new business. That opportunity was the Yakima County Development Association’s Enterprise Challenge. The YCDA helps small, emerging businesses grow through a series of evening workshops and coaching on the development of business plans. I hoped to get greater exposure for Sageland Mediation and Facilitation Service and learn marketing tips.
The competition has a series of winnowing down points as the competing businesses vie for prize money awarded to the top three businesses. We started with 32 businesses and I was happy to have Sageland Mediation and Facilitation Service make the first cut, down to 16. This gave me the opportunity to participate in a trade show. We had about 30 volunteer judges evaluate our business and rank us on 5 topics: business opportunity, business execution, company overview, financial plan, and economic impact.
I was disappointed that I didn’t make the next cut, down to 8 businesses, but also understood the judges’ feedback. My business plan’s key shortfall for the competition was that I didn’t anticipate adding many new employees over the next two years. One great experience happened for me when we had a training to prepare for the trade show. We each were asked to come up and talk about a toy foam microphone. When my turn came, I spoke about how this microphone was actually a talking piece and how I use talking pieces in facilitations to give each person the floor to share their perspective. I was the first participant to turn the topic to promoting my business. Lots of folks came up to me afterwards to congratulate me on my speech. I feel like I learned a lot through the workshops, the business planning process and trade show competition. I am glad that I participated.
I would like to thank the many community members from Yakima and Kittitas Counties who contributed their time to the Enterprise Challenge as speakers, judges and consultants and to the YCDA staff who were always welcoming, informative and well prepared. Please watch the Yakima Herald Republic and Ellensburg Daily Record for news about the winners of the Enterprise Challenge later in March. The winners will be honored at an awards ceremony on March 29.
Here’s a link to an article on the YCDA website about the trade show participating businesses, including Sageland Mediation and Facilitation Service. http://www.chooseyakimavalley.com/2018/02/21/enterprise-challenge-contestants-gear-enterprise-trade-show/