Three Tauranga entrepreneurs have been selected as regional finalists in New Zealand's most prominent business plan competition.
The ANZ Flying Start Business Plan Competition offers more than $80,000 worth of prizes to start-ups and existing businesses with less than $1 million in annual turnover - all contestants have to do is submit a business plan.
The competition this year attracted more than 600 entries from around the country, and finalists from each of the regions were announced last week.
Hayley McIsaac recently took on a part-time employee and hired a contractor to help her with the increasing client base of her small medical transcription business.
Most of her clients are private doctors in the UK who send her audio files with their dictated notes following a consultation. Ms McIsaac transcribes the dictation into a written report and returns it to the clinic, usually within 12 hours. The time difference between New Zealand and the UK is an advantage, Ms McIsaac said, because the doctors usually send the audio files before they leave the clinic at night and the transcription is usually ready when they arrive at work in the morning.
Medi Transcriptz has supported Ms McIsaac as a sole trader for five years but in the past six months client numbers have increased rapidly and new staff have been employed.
Ms McIsaac said if she won the top prize - $30,000 cash and $28,000 worth of training, consultation and legal advice - she would develop her website to better handle increased client numbers.
Robert Davey, of Mount Maunganui, was already making plans to export a dairy product to Asia when he heard about the Flying Start competition and decided to apply.
Together with two friends, Mr Davey plans to develop a specially formulated milk powder product and market it to elderly Chinese - first in Hong Kong and then into China and Taiwan.
The competition provides an opportunity to further develop the idea, he said.
"The main point of entering was to improve our business plan and formulate some more ideas and get us thinking about how we can approach our market and what sort of product we can develop that would meet the market need."
The Bay of Plenty's other finalist, Blythe Rees-Jones of Locus Research in Mount Maunganui, said his idea was still at an early stage and he hoped to use the Flying Start competition to further develop it.
He was not yet ready to give details of his business plan which is called The Little Adventure.
Fifty-one regional finalists from around New Zealand will submit more detailed plans and the 17 regional winners will be announced in August (each will win $1000).
The top five entrants will be invited to pitch their business plans to a panel of experts in Wellington who will decide the supreme winner in September.