The UK has a growing number of awards designed to celebrate the best of business.
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Business awards are generally accompanied by a glitzy ceremony and champagne – but are they really worth entering?
What are business awards?
There is a range of awards in the UK established to recognise the achievements of the country’s businesses, both large and small. Some of these, such as the National Business Awards, celebrate major national and international firms, but there are also many events geared towards the innovative, small businesses that form part of the bedrock of the country’s economy.
Business awards tend to be judged by an expert panel of business owners, who assess applications made in a variety of different categories. For example, award categories might recognise achievement in fields like digital engagement, marketing, or growth. Most business awards also have ‘business of the year’ categories, the winner of which is often drawn from the winners of each of the other categories.
Why should I enter?
Entering business awards comes with a range of potential advantages – whether or not you eventually win.
The application process for these awards can provide you with a valuable opportunity to properly appraise your business. All too frequently, business owners are so overwhelmed with the day-to-day running of their firm that they do not get a chance to zoom out. The application process, which can be very rigorous, will often force you to adopt a new perspective on your business, encouraging you to identify your overarching strategic strengths and weaknesses.
The judging process, meanwhile, can be thought of as a benchmarking process. Judges will consider your application in comparison with other firms and, depending on the nature of the awards that you have entered, these firms are likely to be of a similar size and in a similar field. You will therefore have an opportunity to assess your position in relation to that of your peers and competitors.
Winning, of course, brings its own advantages. Reputable business awards can generate significant amounts of publicity, and this can have a direct and dramatic impact on your firm. Just as importantly, winning a business award clearly differentiates you from your competitors, and can provide a real competitive advantage when seeking or retaining customers.
If you are seeking investment, demonstrating that you have received recognition as the best or most promising firm in your field can really help your case. Similarly, you may find it easier to attract top quality talent as a result of your awards success.
Do I need help?
There is a growing number of companies offering help with the awards application process. These firms claim to be able to guide you through your submission, and to know how best to fine tune your application in order to maximise you chances of success.
There is no necessity to pay one of these companies to help you make your application. Indeed, as discussed, one of the benefits of applying for a business award is the opportunity to personally interrogate your own firm, and to gain valuable insight in the process. That said, though, you should remember that entering these competitions can be a time-consuming process. You should be prepared to dedicate resources to your application, while ensuring that it does not distract from actually running your business. It is also worth noting that you may be expected to provide further supporting information in the event that you are shortlisted for an award.
How do I find the right awards?
Given that applying for business awards can be a lengthy (and potentially expensive) proposition, it is important that you choose your battles carefully. Which awards are really worth applying for, and of which should you steer clear?
Perhaps the primary factor to remember here is that it’s important to pick your battles. Not every business award will be right for you. For example, it may not be appropriate for you to compete with huge multinational corporations in many of the categories of the National Business Awards. You need to identify the awards that are geared towards business like yours – and, once you have found them, you need to work out which categories you should be applying for.
When choosing categories, try to play to your strengths. In which fields does your business really excel? Have you had a banner year for international expansion, for example? Or have your marketing efforts been truly unique? Remember that entering multiple categories can increase your workload.
Above all, though, remember that business awards are not the be all and end all. They provide you with a great opportunity to properly investigate your own business, but they are by no means the only measure of success. Good luck!
Simply Business is proud to sponsor this year’s Startups Awards, recognising the best of the UK’s startups. Click here to enter.