SEP Competitions

The Southern Entrepreneurship Program is pleased to offer a variety of competitive opportunities for participating high school students. In addition to a series of traditional business plan competitions which the SEP has offered annually since 2007, the Making Money Now! competition provides financial recognition to one student per year for exemplifying intentional entrepreneurship. Rules and rubrics for each competition are provided below.


The Southern Entrepreneurship Program (SEP) sponsors and operates multiple competitions each school year. Be on the lookout each spring for our regional and online qualifier competitions in preparation for the SEP State Business Plan Competition held near the end of the school year.

The 20 top-placing presentations (individuals and/or teams) from the qualifier events are selected to participate in the statewide competition.


  • Each winner must have a completed W-9 Tax Form on file with the SEP before his/her winnings can be dispersed.

Rules & Regulations:

  • Follow the provided judging criteria (judging sheet).
  • Come dressed to present!
  • Presenters may work/present individually or as part of a team (maximum of 4 members)
  • Presenters will be divided into 2 divisions:
    • SEP Division 1 ("Pre-Launch" business ideas)
    • SEP Division 2 ("Up & Running" businesses)
  • Presenters will have up to 7 minutes to present followed by 3 minutes of questions from the judges for a total of 10 minutes per presentation.
    • Any time remaining from the initial 7 minutes may be added to the Q&A segment at the judges' discretion.
  • Presenters will NOT have access to projectors but are strongly encouraged to bring physical handouts, visuals, or illustrations as needed.
  • Presenters should bring 5 copies of each Business Plan for the judges to review during the presentation.
  • The weighted average of the competition's judging results will be used to determine rankings and associated awards.

There is no required business plan model or layout for the competition; however, business plans should be well thought out and be at least 6 pages long. For assistance with layout or content questions, consult the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) website: or SCORE website: Additionally, industry-specific templates and examples may be found online through sites like

Though each template may present your information in a different format, the basic components are generally the same and should include:

  • Executive Summary
  • Business Description (include explanation of company's product/service, strengths, legal form such as sole proprietorship/partnership/LLC, and a description of the industry/market)
  • Marketing Plan (include market research, product/service benefits to the customer, description and number of customers, evaluation of competition, advertising strategy, and sales forecast)
  • Operational Plan (include company's production goals, location requirements, legal considerations such as licenses/permits/insurance, personnel requirements, inventory goals, and potential suppliers)
  • Management Plan (include job titles, position descriptions, and even specific peoples’ names if possible)
  • Financial Plan (include 12-month projected Cash Flow Budget, calculated Startup Cost, and Exit Strategy)
  • Appendices (include items such as relevant articles, pictures, floor plans, menus, etc.)
  • Résumé (include one for each owner/manager)

MAKING MONEY NOW! - An SEP Competition

To emphasize the concepts of business creativity and opportunity recognition within its students, SEP developed and introduced the MAKING MONEY NOW! competition as part of the 2009-10 program.

Participating SEP students compete by using a "bootstrapping" method of business financing to launch multiple, uniquely separate business ventures (e.g., face painting, lawn care, photography) during the school year.


  • The MAKING MONEY NOW! award will be presented to one (1) individual student each year, recognized at the SEP Statewide Business Plan Competition.
  • The annual winner will receive a check for $1,000.
  • Each winner must have a completed W-9 Tax Form on file with the SEP before his/her winnings can be dispersed.

Rules & Regulations:

  • MAKING MONEY NOW! is currently open to individual students only (no teams).
  • The competition begins each school year on October 1, and the last day of reportable income is April 15.
  • Participants must start their first venture with no more than ten dollars ($10).
  • Participants must fund their following venture(s) using only the profit generated from previous ventures.
  • The development of fewer than five (5) uniquely separate business ventures (e.g., face painting, lawn care) through this funding strategy will result in a reduction in the student's Adjusted Profit Score (APS Grading Rubric).
  • Up to a 10% boost in one's Adjusted Profit Score (APS) is obtainable by providing:
    1. clear documentation
    2. evidence of business sustainability beyond May 1 (see grading rubric)
  • The individual student that has produced the highest APS under these guidelines will be declared the winner and announced at the SEP Statewide Business Plan Competition.
  • Students are accountable to their school's SEP-approved instructor, and both student and instructor must sign a statement acknowledging that no revenue/profit/cost statements submitted for the competition have been altered or fabricated in any way.
  • The deadline for submitting a completed MAKING MONEY NOW! application to SEP is April 22. The application package must include:
    1. a Cash Flow Budget sheet clearly stating cash flows and actual profit
    2. a separate 1-2 page description of the business ventures
    3. a signed statement as mentioned in the previous point
  • Here is a helpful Transaction Record template for students to document their incomes and expenses as they occur
  • Application submissions may be emailed, faxed, or may be mailed to:

CEEE at Southern Miss
Attn: James Wilcox
118 College Drive, #5021
Hattiesburg, MS 39406

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