Over the past couple of years we have been fortunate to have won or been finalists in a number of awards for our first business, BRS. I have personally invested a lot of time in writing these awards applications so I thought I would share some thoughts on my experience and whether or not they are worth the effort.
The amount of time I have spent preparing our submissions for awards has varied significantly, pending on the type of award. Awards like the Telstra Business Awards are very comprehensive and I would have spent around 40 hours preparing the submission the first time we entered the awards in the start-up category. The benefit of this award application that I haven’t received from any other award is that you receive a comprehensive ‘health check’ diagnostic report that gives you a summary of how your business is tracking and recommendations for improvement across all areas of your business. I found this to be a great process to go through as it provides you with a confidential, objective view of how your business compares to others and highlights the areas you need to focus on to ensure you are taking a well-rounded approach to how you manage your business long term.
Most of the other awards I have entered would have taken between two to four hours to prepare the application. Typically the higher the calibre of the award, the longer the application process takes. However, there are some exceptions to this like BRW Top 100 Fast Starters, this is probably one of the briefest award applications I have seen as the criteria is based solely on financials, specifically total revenue of the organisation. What is interesting about this award is that even though it is a fast starter award, it doesn’t take into consideration of the growth of your business from year to year.
The key with business awards is to read the eligibility criteria and the requirements of the application before you invest any time in the completion. Unless you are familiar with the different awards (which most of us are not), it isn’t until you look at the detail of what the award judges are actually reviewing to determine their finalists and winners and whether or not you are a contender. I would also like to note that there are many other awards out there that I have chosen not to be part of and there are several reasons for this. Some of these awards require an application fee, their values are not aligned with mine or my organisations, or they simply don’t have a reputable brand or awareness to be worth our investment of time. I think you also need to be clear on why you are entering and what would be the advantage of becoming a finalist or a winner before you commit to completing the applications.
The reason I entered all of these awards was to gain credibility for our business as we were launching other businesses based on the success of our first business. Until around 18 months ago, approximately 80% of our revenue was earned from clients interstate and overseas. What we found after winning the SA Telstra small business of the year and the SA in-business fastest growing company awards, potential local clients became a lot more interested in the type of work and services we were providing. For us, these awards have assisted us greatly in building our brand and profile for both BRS and our new easyconsult and easygovernment businesses.
As we have achieved constant growth in BRS since our inception in 2009, it is difficult to determine if the receipt of any of these awards has had a direct impact on our bottom line. However, if you take into consideration that fact that prior to these awards we had built our business purely on delivering great outcomes to our clients through repeat work and referrals and spent very little on business development and marketing, I am sure it has. I also have no doubt that some of our newer clients and clients who organically find our online coaching programs would look very favourably at the recognition we have achieved through the awards we have achieved.
Personally, we have found the acknowledgement of these awards to be very humbling. Most people think they have a great business with great potential, but to actually have someone recognise this is a great experience. Award dinners and presentations are also a great opportunity to share a moment with your team and reflect on the achievements you have had and how far you have come! Make the effort to put together a great submission and the rewards may follow!
If interested, I have also written a related blog on the topic of ‘Are awards really a good indication of a successful business?’ which you can read here.