Future 50: Why entering awards can be great for growing businesses
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
There’s more to awards than just the kudos of winning. The whole process of applying can bring benefits to developing businesses.
Every growing business wants people to know it’s out there, doing good work. Awards can a great way of doing this – and unsurprisingly, Future 50 is packed with companies that can proudly add the words “award-winning” to the corporate CV.
The first step is identifying which awards – and which categories - to enter. "For me, regional awards where you’re being judged against a range of businesses have the most prestige,” says David Parfrey of Future 50 partner Norwich Research Park. “It’s possible to enter more than one category, but it’s most important to be thoughtful about which best represents the thing of which you are most proud.”
Even the application process can be constructive. James Shipp of Future 50 partner Lovewell Blake explains, "Many awards ask you to consider future trading prospects and expected growth. Preparing or reviewing your forecasts and budgets can focus the mind on some aspects or risks which you may have overlooked initially.”
“The process of identifying which awards to enter, gathering the collateral for the entry and then the feedback process is very positive,” says Scott Hewitt of Future 50 member Real Projects, the Norwich-based firm that has already scooped several awards this year. “It can focus the team, help you refine your product and show where you sit in the market.”
Making it onto the short-list is hugely positive, with plenty of possible exposure for the business. And then there’s the judging. “Meeting judges and being assessed can also bring benefits, as the judge will most likely be an expert or specialist in a certain area of business and their views and guidance can really add value,” notes Mr Shipp.
"Feedback from the judges is really valuable,” agrees Stuart Dantzic of Future 50 member Caribbean Blinds, himself a former winner of Suffolk Young Business Person of the Year. “You can learn what other businesses are doing and get some great ideas about what you can do better.”
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Once you get to this stage, you can start to dream - and if you do win, there are so many benefits. Especially for the team. Future 50 partner Birketts has won a string of prestigious awards. “That external validation gives people a huge morale boost and a huge confidence boost,” says Birketts partner Jeanette Wheeler. “I know this from personal experience because my team was recognised for an award by the Legal 500 in 2020 and it really meant something to each of us.”
“Winning is great for the team,” agrees Scott Hewitt of Real Projects. “Every person who worked on the courses can now say they’ve worked on award-winning project – that they’re an award-winning designer or animator or voice-over artist.”
Success can help grow the team as well: in a competitive job market, being an award-winning business can definitely help attract top talent.
It helps relationships with clients and suppliers too. “We also received a huge wave of appreciation and support from clients and contacts on social media,” says Jeanette Wheeler. “It was a great feel-good factor and, even a year later, is still a useful badge of credibility which we can refer to when talking to prospective new clients.”
And that is one of the big attractions of being an award-winning business. PR in both specialist trade press and in the newspapers generates attention, LinkedIn and other social media go crazy and awareness of the company goes through the roof and there’s huge scope for marketing based on the award.
“Coverage around the awards definitely supports your sales by validating your bona fides,” says Stuart Dantzic. “Especially if you win, as it suggests you must be doing something right.”
“It would be nice to see Future 50 members on the shortlists for the Norfolk and Suffolk Business Awards – or even winning,” says David Parfrey. “But for that to happen, they’ll have to enter.”
To enter the Norfolk Business Awards, see www.norfolkbusinessawards.co.uk
To enter the Suffolk Business Awards, see www.suffolkbusinessawards.co.uk