16 April 2014

Business awards and how to write an award-winning entry

Winning an award bring a range of benefits, so we've put together a list of national business awards, plus advice on how to write an award-winning entry.

With several of our customers recently being shortlisted for different award schemes, we thought it might be useful to give a roundup of business awards throughout the UK.

Winning or even being nominated for a business award can boost awareness of your brand and help you gain new customers. There are many different types of awards, each with their own specific categories, entry criteria and incentives for entering.

How to make a good submission

  • Choose carefully. Don’t just apply to any award you think you are eligible for. Submitting entries for awards takes time and thought, so consider which awards are likely to be the most beneficial for you and which category would be most appropriate. This may depend on the prominence of the award scheme or the benefits offered to the award winners.
  • Fulfil the criteria. Each entry will be marked using set criteria, so you make sure you read through this thoroughly and answer the questions as fully as possible. If they ask for submissions in a particular format, then comply. If you’re asked to provide evidence of your success, then provide it. Facts and figures can help improve your entry if they support your submission, but don’t just add a mass of data that has no relevance. If they specify a minimum or maximum word count, then make sure your entry meets this.
  • Don’t copy and paste. Writing entries can be time consuming and it can be tempting to copy and paste content from one award submission to another, but don’t. It’s generally easy to spot when someone does this, as your submission won’t fully answer the questions being asked, wasting both your time and that of the judges.
  • Write in plain English. Don’t use the jargon for your industry; explain things in layman’s terms and tell a story in your application. Chances are, some or all of the judges won’t understand specific industry lingo, so including it will make your entry much harder to read and score.  Spell out the benefits of your achievement; don’t just assume judges will be able to join up the dots.
    If you need help writing your submission, ask a colleague to help you or to review it afterwards. Try to be reasonably concise – the judges will probably have to read through numerous entries, so reading an entire essay won’t work in your favour. Proofread your submission, checking carefully for typos and inaccuracies.
  • Give yourself time. If you are rushing to complete your entry at the last minute, chances are you’ll miss something or possibly miss the deadline and then your hard work will have gone to waste.
  • Stand out from the crowd. Think about how you can get the judges’ attention and make your entry stand out from the others. Make your entry easy to read and clear as to why you fit their criteria. Think carefully about the project or achievement you use to showcase your business. It’s not always the latest or largest project that will make a winning entry. If you can include photographs or additional supporting evidence, such as videos, make sure they look professional and are easy to access.
  • Look at previous winners. Think about why they won, what qualities or achievements they had that made them stand out for the category you are applying for.

National business awards

This list doesn’t include regional business awards, as there are literally hundreds of local award schemes. We’ve also listed some awards that have already closed this year – you can put a reminder in your calendar if you want to apply for their 2015 awards.

Award name


Cost for entering

Number of categories

Why apply?

The Nectar Business Small Business Awards

30th April 2014



Six categories covering small business, entrepreneurs, innovators, home grown businesses and tradespeople

Winners win £2,000 in cash, 50,000 nectar points, nationwide publicity and the opportunity to attend a round table event

SEIF awards

30th April 2014


Four categories – Integration Prevention, Social Entrepreneurship, Educational Innovation and Future Trends

Recognises social entrepreneurship projects that are aligned to social and or environmental gain. Winners receive cash rewards

Best of Business awards

30th April 2014


Different categories depending on whether your business is in the private or public sector

30 minute free consultation with a public relations expert, winners pack including trophy and quotes to use in your marketing activities

National Business Awards

23rd May 2014


£295 for each entry.

17 awards covering customer focus, innovation, growth, employer and new entrepreneur of the year

Winners benefit from a year-round PR and content marketing programme to attract new customers

Chambers Awards

27th June 2014

Free for members of Accredited Chambers of Commerce, £195 + VAT for all others

Nine categories including Manufacturer of the Year, Small Business of the Year and Excellence in Innovation

Aims to demonstrate the best of British businesses, with cash prizes for winners

Internet Business Awards

30th June 2014

£180 per entry

23 categories based on your business sector, including education, advertising and recruitment

Independent awards focusing on the UK B2B world as it moves online.

Winners can display their winner’s logo for two years

NatWest Everywoman Awards

7th July 2014


Four age categories and the Iris Award

Open to female business owners, aiming to raise awareness and create role models of women in business. Offers prestige plus regional and local press coverage

The Peer Awards

Deadline varies – see key dates

No cost if you are not shortlisted.

Three finalist packs, starting from £995, offering various levels of exposure

Three awards, with six categories for each award, including Staff Development, Health and Wellbeing, Customer Service and B2B Customer Engagement

Exposure and recognition for everyone shortlisted, with special supplements in The Independent

Startup Awards

Entries open 15th July 2014, closing 27th September

£45 + VAT administration fee

12 categories, including Service Business of the Year, Mumpreneur of the Year, Silver Fox Award of the Year and Franchisee of the Year

Claiming to recognise the UK’s most creative, innovative and ambitious new businesses. Benefits include raised profile, local and national press coverage and endorsement by the judging panel plus a logo for marketing

Guardian Sustainable Business awards

Nominations closed for this year.



Fee depends on the size of your business

Ten categories covering waste, carbon, social impact and communicating sustainability

Get your business profile published in the Guardian and feature in an e-book shared with Guardian Sustainable Business members

Private Business Awards 2014


March 2014

Nominations closed for this year


Ten categories, including Family Business of the Year and Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year

Celebrates and highlights the achievements of individuals and companies within the private sector

The Fusion Awards

Nominations closed for this year


Ten categories including Community Group of the Year and Youth Leadership Award

Celebrates the achievements of those who take part in community work and entrepreneurs

Red Ribbon Awards

Nominations closed for this year


13 categories including Lifetime Achievement, Small Family Business and Fastest Growing Business

Focuses on family businesses in the UK, from start-ups to nationally-recognised brands

Asian Women of Achievement Awards

March 2014.

Nominations closed for this year


Categories including Young Achiever, Community and Entrepreneur

Lists itself as the premier awards for Asian women in Britain

First Women Awards

April 2014

Nominations closed for this year


Ten categories including The Built Environment, Science and Technology and Manufacturing

Aims to recognise pioneering UK Women who have opened up opportunities for others

FSB WorldPay Awards

January 2014. Nominations closed for this year


Four categories, innovation, young entrepreneurs, micro businesses and online business

Part of Celebrating Business Britain – a programme to help businesses get recognition and to inspire businesses nationwide 

The Pitch

13th July 2014


No categories – an online application form

More of a competition than an award, but gives you the opportunity to win thousands of pounds of business support

Mollie Makes Handmade Awards

25th May 2014


Five categories: youth, startup, established business, social enterprise, creative idea

Aims to celebrate craftsmanship, promoting people who are turning their hobbies into a business. Prizes vary for each category, but include mentorship and free Etsy store listings. 

Have we missed any? Tweet us the details and we'll update the list.