For those who want to open a business in the city of Midlothian but aren’t sure exactly how to go about it, the Midlothian Chamber of Commerce has a golden opportunity.

The Chamber is conducting a contest to judge who has the best business plan. The Midlothian Business Plan Competition is open to anyone in the city that’s planning to develop a business plan and open a business in Midlothian. The winner will receive a cash prize and business services that will assist in moving one’s business to the next level.

Angel Biasatti, chair of the Midlothian Chamber of Commerce’s education committee, said planning for the contest started almost a year ago.

“We wanted to offer an opportunity for people who are wanting to start a business in Midlothian,” Biasatti said. “It’s an opportunity to learn about how to put together a business plan, and to win funding for that plan. Research has shown that a well-researched plan has a positive impact on the bottom line. It strengthens an owner’s ability to generate revenue and create jobs.”

Individuals can go online to to apply for the program. There is a $50 registration fee, and the deadline to enter is Nov. 6. The application packet is downloadable and includes links to numerous resources on how to write a business plan.

John Knight, a member of the educational committee, said the Chamber is offering over $10,000 in cash and prizes.

“For prizes, we’ve got in-kind services from Paragon Payroll, AFairchild Accounting, First Financial Bank and others,” Knight said.

Three finalists will be announced by the Chamber on Nov. 13, and the finals and award ceremony will be held Nov. 18.

“It’s very similar to Shark Tank,” Biasatti said, referring to the long-running business reality TV show. “The finalists will present their business plans and a winner is chosen.”

Biasatti said numerous sponsors have assisted the Chamber with funding the competition, including Google, the title sponsor. Frost Bank, Methodist Mansfield Medical Center, First Financial Bank, AFairchild PC, Tarleton State University and UPS Store are among other sponsors. Biasatti added that sponsorships are still available through the Nov. 6 deadline.

“(They) are doing very lucrative trades that are to help individuals, small business owners and entrepreneurs,” she said.

Laura Terhune, president of the Midlothian Chamber of Commerce, said strengthening small business and improving the economy is the Chamber’s mission.

“The purpose of the education committee is to bring training opportunities to them,” Terhune said. “It might be HR issues or marketing on a shoestring budget. It could be hiring and firing pitfalls, or legal issues for small business. The education committee wants to have a robust program throughout the year.”

Terhune added that the Midlothian Business Plan Competition is one program of the education committee that is focused on entrepreneurs.

“I know from being a (business counseling) professional for 25 years that way too many small business owners and entrepreneurs have walked in my door and not had a business plan,” Terhune said. “They just don’t realize that that is their guideline to success. That’s what’s going to guide them from their dream to success.

“If we can incentivize them to have a good business plan in place and to get some excitement and momentum about that, I think that highlights our entrepreneurs and gives them a strong starting point.”

Terhune also mentioned that the Small Business Development Center provides free resources for entrepreneurs to put together a business plan.

Sharon Price, a member of the Midlothian Chamber’s education committee, is also on the Chamber’s board and executive committee. Price, a certified public accountant, noted how valuable the Chamber is as a resource for local business.

“The actual business plan competition is a piece of what we do on the education committee,” Price said. “We really try to educate our business owners just on how to have some best practices in our business to be successful. So this year we’ve had ‘Lunch and Learn,’ we’ve had a class that we’re teaching in a partnership with Navarro for entrepreneurship, and also the business plan competition. So we’ve approached it from an education perspective just to make sure that the Chamber’s here to help small business with the resources they need to succeed.”

Knight said that anyone who submits a plan will get feedback on their plan.

“That’s going to be really good to help these folks get their business going and their business growing,” he said. “What we’re really hoping is that it inspires people who are on the fence to get up off the couch and get going. We hope that it helps those folks who have taken the plunge and got a business going to take the time to do a written business plan because we know your success rate goes up exponentially when you have a documented plan. We hope it grows and builds excitement around the business community in Midlothian.”

Terhune said that she was excited about Google, which is building a $600 million data center in Midlothian, joining the Chamber of Commerce as well as sponsoring the Midlothian Business Plan Competition.

“They really want to help small businesses,” Terhune said. “Our missions are in sync in that way.”

Biasatti said the competition has been a collective team effort with herself, Terhune, Price and Knight.

“Sharon has been instrumental,” Biasatti said. “She is teaching a number of classes to help businesses improve their plan and their skills. Laura’s been instrumental as well and John has been instrumental. They’re all very highly intelligent individuals here in Midlothian.”