Awards season: what it takes to get your business name up in lights

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Awards season: what it takes to get your business name up in lights

Even if your business is small, win a business award and you’ll be crowned a master of your industry. So what’s involved?

While many business owners use advertising and customer word-of-mouth to “get the word out”, how often do you stop and wonder - “am I doing something that deserves more recognition”?

Trumpeting your own business mightn’t come naturally if you prefer to work head-down, bum-up on fulfilling orders and not on fancy marketing and competitions. 

For the winners though, the biggest business awards like the Telstra Australian Business Awards and the Sydney Business Awards can be a ticket to publicity and in some cases money.

How much work is involved to be in these competitions?

The 2011 Sydney Business Awards Winners

Take the Sydney Business Awards, which is gearing up right now for 2012. Voting opens on June 29.

What interested us is that winning the awards is not a 5-minute, 10-minute or even 1-hour process. The awards web site suggests it should take no more than 8 hours to complete the finalists' questionnaire. This includes basic questions about “financial records, long-term business strategy, financial results, strategic planning, track record on innovation, community involvement and commitment to environmental sustainability.” Mind you, getting to the finalists stage is essentially a popularity poll – with the list based on how many votes you get from the public.

There was something else that also grabbed our attention - finalists in some categories are visited by a mystery shopper.

Then there’s the Telstra Australian Business Awards (nominations now closed for this year’s awards). The Telstra web site suggests it takes “about 20-30 hours” to complete the entry forms. If you are shortlisted, judges come to visit your workplace and if you are a finalist you attend a workshop to get media training and prepare for the Awards event.

This entry has six sections:

  • Your business
  • Sales and marketing
  • Your customers
  • Your team
  • Planning and performance
  • Financials

There is also the Telstra Business Women’s Awards, for which nominations close next week at midnight on June 19.  Entry involves a behaviour-based questionnaire, from which judges identify a shortlist. If you are on the shortlist you are then interviewed. If you make it as far as being a finalist and then a state category winner, you go to Sydney for another interview in front of a judging panel. 

Then there are specialist awards, like the CRN Fast 50 (run by our sister title and which opens for entries on July 1), which is based on revenue growth.

What's in it for my business?

There’s potentially a very big bonus in the case of the Telstra Australian Business Awards, which has a combined prize pool of $500,000.

The overall winner of the Telstra Business Women's Awards gets prizes to the value of $25,000. National winners in each category get $5,000 each in cash or prizes or $4,000 for state category winners, among other prizes.

We have also previously written about the Tech23 awards for startup companies, for which applications close on August 16. Spoils for the major winners include $20,000 and $40,000 prizes.

It appears the Sydney Business Awards is less about the money, and more about the recognition. It’s also an opportunity to see what your rivals are doing and possibly even get a few ideas from other companies that don’t compete in your field. The Sydney Business Awards, for example, has 22 major categories, covering things like hairdressing salons, grocery stores, pet shops, restaurants, pubs, marketing companies, real estate agents, pre-schools, charities, physiotherapists and tour guides.

Winning awards is also something you can put in your advertising, and the Award night itself might be a chance to make some useful business connections. Last year 650 businesses reportedly entered the Sydney Business Awards.

All up, there’s clearly a bit of work involved taking part in some of these big-name awards, though we are glad that is the case. While cash prizes are a bonus, we’d argue the main benefit is taking time out of your working week to take a long hard look at your business.

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