By Jane Sunley, CEO of Purple Cubed

Aside from the obvious thrill of picking up the trophies at glittery awards ceremonies, achieving prestigious awards can offer great benefits for small businesses.

For starters, in our experience, there’s the hugely positive affect on teams. Winning awards can really underpin the value of their hard work and dedication. Their pride is almost palpable; a great thing to see. In addition the number of on spec job applications can increase; enabling you to secure high calibre new recruits more easily as a result of enhanced reputation.

From a commercial perspective, potential clients are really impressed by accolades and far more likely to enter into serious dialogue. The positive publicity, visibility and recognition across the UK, also offers great exposure; opening a business up to people who may not otherwise have heard about it or understood its capability, assuming it’s too small to delivery what is required.

Where to start, and how to decide which awards to go for?

Entering awards warrants a great amount of time and effort and should not be entered into half-heartedly. For a small business resources are finite, so before starting off carefully consider whether you have the man-hours to put towards writing a strong award application.

Deciding what awards to enter can be challenging; it’s important to weigh up the time and effort it would take to enter against the potential gains. Avoid the scatter-gun approach – two or three well targeted, well researched and well written awards entries is far better than ten ‘cut and paste jobs’. It’s also important to consider what the award means to you and your business, and the recognition your business would enjoy as a result of winning. Then identify the story and key messages, making sure you have the evidence to back up what you say. This is vital – there’s no point talking about what you did without clearly illustrating the results.

Also consider that entering an award can be similar to a benchmarking exercise; helping identify areas which need development, and highlight where you excel. And of course if you don’t win, the important thing is to learn, address and have another go.

What’s in it for you?

Winning awards offer a number of benefits to small businesses in order to distinguish your company from others within the market…

Credibility – being associated with winning a prestigious award acts as a seal of approval and is a sign of quality for clients and potential clients. Even a short-listed nomination without the win can act as a third party endorsement, and can give your business a competitive advantage. As an example we recently won a contract outside our traditional target markets. The client had read about our award win, asked us to meet them and, as a result, we are now working with them.

PR – be proud of your award wins and make sure that everyone knows about them. Update your website and marketing materials with the award logo, even your email signatures. Awards are recognition of success and achievement, and provide great PR opportunities. Use the enhanced profile to your benefit by agreeing to speaking opportunities and also offering your opinion and comment in the national and trade publications.

Employee attraction and motivation – winning an award recognises the successes of your business and the people that make it happen, employees. Make sure awards victories are celebrated with employees to give them the recognition they deserve for their hard work and commitment to the organisation. Being an award-winning organisation can also make you more attractive as an employer to new recruits; helping you attract and retain the talent needed to drive the business forward.

Above anything else this is about finding awards that reflect who you are as a business, making sure the timing is right, and enjoying the process along the way. What’s coming over the next few months that you could enter?