1. Home
  2. Business Finance
  3. 4 Reasons You Should Enter Small Business Awards
Published 13 May 2024
Reading Time
6 minutes

4 Reasons You Should Enter Small Business Awards

Winning a local or national award can help propel your business towards greater success. Don’t be put off by the time and energy it takes to apply – it’s a great way to promote your business and potentially win money to help it grow. Find out how awards could benefit your business, plus tips on how to get started.

Written By

Winning an award is an achievement for any founder – one that creates opportunities to boost your brand, increase customer confidence and gain a competitive advantage. What’s more, for small business owners with aspirations to grow, having an award or two under your belt can make it easier to attract employees or angel investors. 

But, to be in with a chance, there is often a lengthy application form, which could pull you away from other revenue-generating work. There may also be an entry fee and an event to attend with no guarantee you’ll even take home an award. However, there are valid reasons why some business owners prioritise applying for industry awards.  

Awards help you sharpen your strategy

It’s easy to lose sight of your long-term strategy when you’re busy running your business day to day. Entering an awards contest creates an opportunity to pause and consider what makes your business different, and where you need support or investment to develop.

“You’re focused on the vision, the mission, the financials, the growth strategy and plan. It forces you to take a more holistic view of your business,” says Victoria Nicol, the multi-award winning founder of Glasgow-based translation agency, My Language Connection (MLC).

MLC went through several rounds to win Scottish Edge,  a funding competition for fast-growing small businesses, in 2019. Nicol believes the feedback she gained at each stage of the competition was well worth the effort, even if she hadn’t won. “You get through to semi-finals to pitch in front of some really brilliant, prestigious, business leaders; loads of experience in that room,” she explains. 

The opportunity to pitch your business idea to a panel of judges is also valuable because “you’re actually getting feedback from people that have been doing it for a very long time who understand how to grow a business,” Nicol adds.

Awards can accelerate growth

Nicol deliberately made awards part of her growth plan and has seen “good return on investment” from this approach.

She explains that her team focused on how to grow and develop the business. Part of raising the profile of the business included going for awards and “being recognised for what we were doing within the industry… it’s something that we aspired for quite early on,” she says.

Through an informal conversation in a co-working space, Nicol discovered she was eligible to enter Scottish Edge, which won her £35,000 in funding. Though she described the application as “quite a rigorous process,” Nicol encourages other business owners to put themselves forward. “You’re never sure you’re going to win but you need to go for these things because it’s great for your business profile.” 

Awards can be worth their weight in gold

Before settling down to work on an application, it’s a good idea to check all the potential costs. Some small business awards charge an entry fee of up to £200, making it difficult for those with limited budgets to take part. Others are free at the point you apply but charge for tickets to attend the awards event. 

Henrik Court owns an events management company and has been helping to run awards since 2006. In 2018 he set up the Midlands Service Excellence Awards, which recognise and celebrate businesses for customer service in the Midlands region. Court told NerdWallet that to reduce barriers to entry for smaller businesses and sole traders, he uses sponsorship and ticket sales to generate income rather than charging for applications. 

“I want my awards to be open to everyone, I don’t care whether you’re a global multi-international business across 92 countries, or just me and my little business… I want it to be an equal playing field,” Court explains. 

While it’s not mandatory to attend the event, Court says 98% of finalists are willing to pay for a ticket (£115 plus VAT and an Eventbrite booking fee), because the benefits of networking and increased brand exposure can far outweigh the costs. “If you win a contract, that money would [be paid] back very, very quickly,” says Court.

Awards give you something to shout about 

For effective digital marketing using social media, your business needs to produce content, and participating in an award provides a brilliant source for this.

The Muddy Stilettos Awards for UK lifestyle businesses are free and based on nominations, so there is no application process for companies taking part.  After making sure your business is registered with Companies House, the only work you have to put in is sharing the fact that you’ve been nominated. A sponsored £5,000 cash prize is up for grabs.

The Muddy Awards provide ready-made templates to all nominees to help you spread the word through your social media pages or email newsletter. Word of mouth can also be very effective.

If you do take home an award, the sharing needn’t stop there. Your achievement could be a great way to get your business featured in the local press.

Tips if you decide to go for it

Start local

Small business awards can be local, regional, national or international. For sole traders and micro enterprises reliant on local customers, publicity at a local level could be beneficial. “If you’re a very small business, I always think start off with local awards or regional awards,” advises Court. Start by looking at your nearest Chambers of Commerce or attend local networking events to find out which awards other businesses in your area have entered.

Make it a family affair

Nicol describes the experience of attending awards events as a chance “to see what we have accomplished as a team together… a really nice atmosphere, a good camaraderie”. 

For sole traders, there is no reason why you can’t take your friends or family members with you to celebrate your business achievements.

Keep trying

If you find an award that aligns well with your company values, keep entering even if you don’t win. Just being a finalist is a success worth celebrating. Nicol was first shortlisted for Scottish Business Woman of the Year in 2018, but didn’t take home the prize until 2022. 

Stay involved if you can and support other small businesses along their journey. This can help you build a relationship with the organisers who will likely welcome you back next year to try again. 

Explore becoming a judge or a sponsor

Whether or not you’re a winner, your involvement in local or national business awards can give your brand some great exposure, helping you build your network and establish new connections that may be advantageous in the future.

Image source: Getty Images

Dive even deeper

How To Start a Candle Business

How To Start a Candle Business

Are you a candle lover who waxes lyrical about starting your own business? Our guide will answer all the burning questions you need to consider before getting your candle business off the ground.

What is a VAT Loan?

What is a VAT Loan?

The quarterly obligation of paying VAT returns to HMRC can be challenging for VAT-registered businesses for several reasons. VAT loans are a source of financing companies can use to avoid incurring late payment penalties by missing deadlines.

Top 6 Crowdfunding Sites UK

Top 6 Crowdfunding Sites UK

Raising money through crowdfunding could help you to start a business, launch a new project or expand the business to the next level. But determining the best crowdfunding platform for your business is a step that can turn crowdfunding failure into success.

Back To Top