Let's start with the biggest-money contest going, Shopify's Build a Business Contest. Designed for entrepreneurs who're dreaming of launching that startup, the contest is offering a $100,000 grand prize. One catch: The business idea needs to involve a Shopify online store selling either tangible or digital goods. If you're an established business but have an idea for a spinoff or side project, this is your opportunity to get that new site off the ground.
To keep a big-ticket site selling cars or real estate from being the automatic winner, only the first $5,000 of each order counts. On that basis, the startup with the biggest sales within six months gets the prize. There's four $5,000 prizes as well for best . Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, has already blogged about this one.
Intuit's Love a Local Business contest offers five small businesses a chance to win a $35,000 in February. (January, too, but that chance has flown.) Four runner-ups get $5,000.
This one should be hot for small businesses that have built a big social-media following, as the way you win is to get customers and other fans to visit the contest site and share their praise. Enter this one by March 3 to qualify.
Finally, if you're an aspiring entrepreneur who could benefit from some coaching, there's the Become Your Own Boss Entrepreneur's Challenge. The challenge is put on by business coach Melinda Emerson, whose book Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months comes out in March. This one offers a year of free business coaching by hers truly, along with the book and other coaching materials--a prize valued at $25,000.
Writers get the upper hand here, as your contest entry is a 500-word essay explaining your business concept. Better get on it--entries are due to Melinda@melindaemerson.com by Friday at 5 p.m.
May the best entrepreneurs win!