Entrepreneurs win business plan competition

March 27, 2006

Valdosta - Anne Barnas and Megan Smith always dreamed of starting a business together. "A year ago it was a thought, a dream, an idea," said Barnas.

And now, it's a reality thanks to the Guardian Bank Business Plan Competition. "The competition made us put our thoughts on paper, organize our thoughts until we felt that we had a successful plan, a very viable and operable plan," said Barnas.

The Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce teamed up with Guardian Bank to find a way of bringing new, higher paying jobs to our area. They created the Business Plan Competition, and Smith Barnas and Associates, a human resources consulting firm, took this year's title. "Where a small or mid-sized company wouldn't necessarily be able to hire a human resources professional on staff, we'll be able to come in and assist them in those needs," said Barnas.

The business should create seven jobs for local college graduates within the first three years of operation. Winning the competition gives these entrepreneurs all the tools they need to ensure their success. "Fifty-thousand dollars is certainly quiet a bit of incentive," said Barnas.

Guardian Bank is giving them $10,000 for start up costs.  "We need computers, telephone systems, and so on," said Megan Smith.

Local legal and accounting agencies, media outlets, and marketing consultants are also providing them with $40,000 worth of free services. "We're really going to have to educate and convince the small employer that he really needs our services," said Smith.

Smith and Barnas agree that the competition gave them the perfect recipe for success, and it all started with a dream.