Experiencing new opportunities

by Patty Smith

We had the opportunity to enter the Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship 2014 Springboard Competition. This competition is sponsored by the College of Business Administration at Abilene Christian University.

It was definitely a learning, stretching and growing experience. We filled out the application and submitted it. That was the easy part.

We received a notification that we had been assigned the community growth division, which is for new businesses (less than 2 years old). You can imagine our excitement when we received an additional notification stating that we had been selected to go to the next step of the competition. This excitement was quickly tempered with a little trepidation when we found out that the following step was to present a business plan. I quickly googled business plan and got busy because I had less than a week to write this plan before we left on a much needed vacation. I also called my daughter, Jenni, with an S.O.S. I managed to get the bare bones ready before we left and with a quick meeting of the minds, I handed it over to Jenni's capable hands. We did not have internet access for a few days and when I did manage to plug in, Jenni had several questions as the deadline was quickly approaching. I was able to provide the info she needed and she did her magic and made it with time to spare.

We got back from our vacation and within a few days, received a notification that we had been selected as one of 13 finalists for the Community Growth Division. Excitement! Trepidation! Now we have to create a PowerPoint and do a presentation (an elevator pitch) to the Judges. Think Shark Tank on a smaller scale. But absolutely as terrifying. And as happens too often, there was a huge scheduling conflict. The Old Sorehead Trade Days was the same day as the presentation. We quickly had a another meeting of the minds and came up with a plan. The boys would head to the Trade Days and Jenni and I would do the presentation. I was not worried until the evening before when Jenni and I got together to practice and she informed me that I could not have notes. Oh great! Memorization! Don't you love it? However, we nailed it. I was a little nervous, but felt that it went over well. The judges questions were good and I felt okay about the presentation. Jenni was cautiously optimistic.

The Awards Dinner was 3 days later. We set up our display with the other finalists. This was where we felt the most comfortable, answering questions and encouraging people to smell our products. We passed out a bunch of business cards and were delighted to run into some loyal customers. The keynote speaker presented a great motivational message. The meal was delicious. Then came the awards. We were thrilled when they announced The Country Escape as the third place winner in the community growth division. We were given a beautiful plaque and a cash award. Whew, all that trepidation was worth it!

So now we are looking at working on creating a separate production and storage facility for our little business that is growing because of our loyal customer base. We are pursuing additional opportunities in other retail outlets and staying busy making products. It is so exciting to see what additional new opportunities are waiting just around the corner for us.