Small Business Contest on Big Island

Sep 4, 2019

According to federal figures, most businesses in the country are small businesses. On Hawaii Island, about four out of five businesses have fewer than 20 employees. But small businesses often need some assistance to succeed. And that's where an entrepreneur from Kona is helping. 

Jim Wyban used to run a shrimp farming business at the Natural Energy Laboratory.  Once he sold it, he created a nonprofit to help other small business people learn a crucial skill: how to write a business plan.

"HIplan is a business plan competition that we convene every fall. We're now in our fourth year.  To entice entrepreneurs to come into our program we offer a $25,000 cash prize to the winner.  During that process we put them through some seminars and training and give them feedback, and hopefully help them refine and improve their business plan and their business plan communication skills."

Wyban says in the first 3 years, they've had 125 participants.   

"It's a three phase competition. Step one is submit a written business plan. The top 15 entries are invited to give a 12 minute oral presentation in front of judges. The highest eight scores will be invited to our finals."

Dr. Shalloon Craddock is a Hilo pediatrician who won in 2017 — allowing her to establish a private practice.

"The award that we received we were able to invest in our business. We've been able to get a lot of awesome equipment."

Judges and mentors help guide participants. Funding is through public and private grants. The business plan template is available for anybody to use, but to enter the competition, the submission date is Saturday.  The web site is hiplan.biz