How to enter business awards and write a winning entry


Want to enter business awards? Winning one is a great way to showcase your expertise and help you stand out to customers.

There are lots of awards all over the country for all types of businesses, industries, and sectors.

Some business awards come with a cash prize, while others just give the winners a sense of prestige. But all of them will have an application form to complete in order to enter.

Here’s what to know about writing a winning award entry, from delving into the categories and the criteria to editing and proofreading your work.

Business awards: 7 tips for writing a winning award entry

1. Understand the award categories

There are usually lots of categories that you can enter.

But sometimes, the differences between categories are subtle. This means it’s important to read through them to make sure that you’re entering the right ones.

Many award categories are split into different sectors, for example financial services and not-for-profit, making it simple to choose the ones that suit you best.

If you’re entering a particular project or piece of work, you should look at the categories in detail.

As an example, for a data and research-heavy project, you’d want to look for a category like best use of data.

And if you’ve come up with a new brand identity, there might be a design or marketing-specific award to enter.

Of course, there’s nothing to say that you can’t enter the same project in many categories. But be sure to understand how the criteria differ, tailoring your entries to the individual categories.

2. Make sure you meet the criteria

What are the judges looking for? Each category will usually have a detailed description and set of criteria, so make sure that your entry covers everything that the judges want to see.

Refer to the description and criteria in the planning stages. Copy them into a document and use them as headings to gather information. You should be able to see where you’ll need supporting evidence easily.

If you’re struggling to see how your entry meets the criteria, have a look to see if another category or award suits your entry more.

3. Showcase your business’s best side with clear examples

It’s a piece of writing advice that most of us heard in English lessons – show, don’t tell.

The advice holds up well for award entries. Judges will be looking for evidence that you did what you’re telling them you did. So use clear examples rather than simple assertions.

Instead of saying: as a result of this project, our profit increased.

You can say: as a result of this project, our profit increased by 126% from April 2021 to April 2022.

As mentioned in point two, it’s important to read the descriptions and criteria in detail so you know what examples and information you’ll need to gather.

After checking out the descriptions and the criteria (and copying them into a document), you can see what evidence and examples the judges might want to see.

4. Get to know your business judges

Knowing your audience is another classic bit of writing advice that rings true when writing award entries.

Many award panels have expert judges who’ll end up deciding on the winner. Who are they?

Research their background to understand the types of business or work that might impress them. You should then find it easier to tailor your entry.

5. Watch your word count

You’ll usually be faced with a word count, so be sure to know what the limits are before you start writing.

There might be distinct sections on the application form, all with their own word count. Note these down on the document you’re using to complete your entry so it’s visible.

On that point, a handy tip is to write your entry in a Word document or Google Doc. It’s far easier than completing it directly in the application form. Plus, it makes it easier for you to save and come back to your work.

And this is important – check whether it’s a word count or character count.

If the application form specifies a character count but you mistake it for word count, you’ll have some considerable cutting and editing to do!

6. Leave time for proofreading and editing

Writing is rewriting and you’ll rarely nail your message on a first draft. The same is true for award entries.

If possible, leave at least a week between completing a draft of your entry and the deadline. That way you can let it sit for a while before editing.

This helps you bring a fresh perspective to the entry.

Here are some further tips for editing:

  • read it aloud (if you stumble over words or phrases, you might want to reword)
  • look for repetition (both in words and message – restructuring can make your entry tighter)
  • remove weak and indecisive phrases (e.g. it ‘appears to be’ – it just ‘is’!)
  • switch to stronger adjectives (e.g. ‘we were happy’ to ‘we were overjoyed’)
  • remove filler words (fluff)

As for proofreading, pick up all the typos and errors you can, but make sure someone else reads your entry too.

If another person needs to sign off on the entry before you submit, leaving a week also gives you enough time to get the right feedback.

7. Know what business details will complete your entry

It can be difficult to gather basic information about your business.

But judging panels usually ask to see this information, whether it’s number of employees, annual turnover, or number of customers.

It’s tempting to leave filling in these details until the last minute, but they’re time consuming to gather.

One way to save yourself panicking when you’re ready to submit is by going through the entirety of the application form before you start writing.

That way you’ll see exactly what’s needed to complete your application. You’ll have enough time to gather all the details as you write.

Going through this part of the process should show you what to do when it comes to actually submitting, too.

Are there any supporting documents you need to submit as attachments, for instance? And is there a fee to pay?

Business Boost: our annual cash grant

We’ve been running our Business Boost award since 2020, which is a cash grant to help one self-employed person start or grow their business.

The judges look for businesses with a strong story and a clear plan for using the money. In 2022, the cash grant is set at £25,000.

Read more about Business Boost, including how to sign up for updates and submit your application when the time comes.

What awards will you be entering in the future? Let us know in the comments below.

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Sam Bromley

Sam has more than 10 years of experience in writing for financial services. He specialises in illuminating complicated topics, from IR35 to ISAs, and identifying emerging trends that audiences want to know about. Sam spent five years at Simply Business, where he was Senior Copywriter.

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