TCW - Jobs, Money & Opinion

Small Business Competitions

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Winning business and industry awards can provide you with a way to set your business apart from the competition, attract new customers and employees while retaining existing ones, and be considered part of the elite category of women who've been designated as remarkable leaders. All too often, however, entrepreneurs fail to do the research and put in the time necessary to create a really great winning entry. Keep reading for a few tips and reminders as well as some awards currently accepting applications:
  1. Start by identifying business and industry awards for which you're most qualified. Check with organizations you're already a member of, associations related to your industry, local chambers of commerce or entrepreneurial programs at universities.
  2. Set aside time to fill out the application. Carefully read all the application criteria and rules before you begin; pay attention to word and attachment limits; have a trusted advisor or employee take a second look at your application to check for typos or errors; make sure your final application looks professional.
  3. Prepare for an in-person interview, as many competitions require finalists or semi-finalists to participate in one. Don't wing it - rehearse!  Be yourself but let your passion for the business come through.
  4. If you win an award, don't forget to thank the judges and sponsors, and then use every means possible to get publicity. Issue a news release, add the award to your professional bio, post the information on your website and include it in your social media and email marketing.

Check out these competitions that are currently accepting applications:
10th Annual Chicago Innovation Awards seeks to shine a bright light on the best new innovations from the Chicago-land region. The ten winners each year are innovations that uniquely fill unmet needs, spark a competitive response in the marketplace, exceed market expectations, achieve financial success, and improve people's lives. Nominations close July 31, 2011.

Ernst & Young Entrepreneurial Winning Women seeks a select group of high-potential women entrepreneurs to join an elite business network of the country's best high-growth companies and participate in a customized executive leadership program. This national program is geared toward high-growth women-owned companies looking to take their business to the next level. Nominations close June 30, 2011.

2011 Illinois Governor's Sustainability Awards honors organizations for their efforts in sustainability and pollution prevention. While not exclusively for small businesses, award applications should tell the story of what they did, how they did it, and how it helped your organization, the environment and your community. Successful applicants will provide detailed, creative and compelling descriptions of significant activities whose benefits encompass the three aspects of sustainability: environment, society and economy.  Nominations close May 27, 2011.

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