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Which are the best general UK business awards to enter?

Which are the best general UK business awards to enter?

chris robinson

Chris Robinson

Founder & MD,
Boost Awards

Entering UK business awards & national business awards

Around 90% of the 4,000+ business awards in our database are targeted, recognising specific departments, people, or industry sectors. However, there is a whole collection of national business awards schemes which recognise the business as a whole, irrespective of industry sector. We call these ‘general business awards’, and they can be found in our Awards List under “Business Awards”.

Some of these awards you will probably have heard of, for example The Queens Awards for Enterprise and the National Business Awards, both long-established and highly prestigious recognition for any company. Others are perhaps slightly less well-known but could be more suitable for your company or the stakeholders you are looking to impress.  

This article will help you decide which of the many national and international business awards out there, are right for your business. We’ve also included a few top tips to increase your chances of winning them.

 

 

Are general UK business awards right for my company?

We tend to find that small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) who have been around for at least one whole financial year and are experiencing strong financial performance are most likely to enter this kind of scheme, however, it is not always the case as you will read. Some awards are aimed at only the very largest businesses.

With the vast majority of these awards you will need some vital ingredients: strong leadership, innovation, a happy workforce, happy customers and strong financial performance. You have to tick all the boxes to win the credible awards. With many schemes a few lost marks in any area could leave you out of the running.

NB. We recommend you consider the Boost awards planning or story review services to ensure you make good decisions here.

Regional, national or international business awards?

A common misconception is that the smaller the region, the easier an award is to win. This is not the case. We have seen stories win at global or national scale, but fail at local scale more than the other way around. It is certainly true that a local awards scheme will favour a very localised story (focused on a city or county) but if your business has a national story then local awards might not like it as much as a regionally focused story. The exception here is the Chamber Business Awards which has regional winners and then national winners chosen from the best regional winners. Here national stories tend to do well.

Interestingly, awards run in the USA tend to be easier to win because they have loads of categories and gold, silver and bronze awards for each. The reason they do this is because they can’t expect finalists to travel from all corners of the USA or the globe just because they are a finalist. However, people will travel if they know they are a winner. But to fill an awards dinner you need a lot of winners!

Now, let’s look at the specific award schemes, but instead of just listing them, consider which of the statements below best describes your business. If you spot one that does, then an award could be yours – if you pick wisely – and submit a knock out entry too (Boost can help here too).

We are a growing profitable business with a clever or disruptive story

Let’s start with this theme – the classic qualities of businesses most likely to win general business awards.

The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise

This is the first award to focus on, and indeed we have an entire article focused on just these awards. They are superb, credible and winnable awards IF you fall into one of four very specific camps alongside strong financial performance: innovative, exceptional in export, exceptional in sustainability and exceptional in supporting social mobility. If your business is not one of these four things and has enjoyed at least two years of strong financial growth, then skip these awards.

Region: UK  Ι  Deadline: September
Website: https://www.gov.uk/queens-awards-for-enterprise 

 

The National Business Awards

These prestigious UK awards, run by United Business Media, have previously included the prime minister, foreign secretary and Bob Geldof as hosts, so it is right to say they are high on credibility. The trouble is, as with many competitive awards, they are extremely difficult to win without help. They are also onerous to enter: the first stage entry process has been made easier in recent years, but there is still a not-very-short ‘shortlist’, and a resource-hungry second stage. In other words, a strong application has a good chance of shortlisting, but unless the face-to-face presentation, angle, evidence, and pitch are extremely strong, a win is a long shot. This is where Boost can help. We have a great track record of success and can help with both stages of your entry.

Region: UK  Ι  Deadline: June
Website: http://www.nationalbusinessawards.co.uk/

uk business awards

“A strong application has a good chance of shortlisting, but unless the face-to-face presentation, angle, evidence, and pitch are extremely strong, a win is a long shot. This is where Boost can help. We have a great track record of success and can help with both stages of your entry.” 

The Chamber Business Awards

Although sharing a deadline, these awards share little else with their competitors the National Business Awards. These UK-only awards, run by the British Chamber of Commerce, only have one stage – a rather demanding written entry – and then, rather than a shortlist, they have regional winners in all categories. This is generally good news with additional ‘awards’ up for grabs. Therefore, in summary these awards are highly credible, winnable with the correct approach, yet not too onerous to enter. We have written some top tips for entering the Chamber Business Awards

Region: UK Regional & UK National  Ι  Deadline: June (Please note that they are postponed until 2021 due to the pandemic)
Website: https://www.britishchambers.org.uk/events/chamber-awards

Management Today – Britain’s Most Admired Companies

Previously these followed a ranking format, but have have switched to a traditional entry format with 16 new categories to enter. It rewards organisations and individuals that are delivering excellence across all sectors, in all industries, with some great sounding categories and the association of Management Today, Britain’s best-established business title, makes them highly credible and desirable to win. The ceremony, due to take place at Claridge’s, the famous 5 star hotel in Mayfair, London is definitely an added incentive.      

Region: UK  Ι  Deadline: November
Website: https://www.mtbmacawards.com/ 

The UK Business Awards (The Dons)

Run by Awards International, these awards share their trademark format with their other awards: half the marks are earned by the written entry, and half from a face-to-face presentation to a panel of judges on the same day as the awards dinner. These awards are one of the first to successfully apply for a Gold Awards Trust Mark (a scheme aimed at raising standards and trust in the awards industry), so you can rest assured that the process has been rigorously assessed and adheres to a well researched code of conduct. With the ongoing pandemic situation, 2020 saw these awards become one of the first to move everything online – with virtual presentations, judging and the ceremony all in one day. 

Region: UK  Ι  Deadline: May
Website: https://ukbizawards.com/ 

The Growing Business Awards

These are also UK-only awards and, as the name suggests, require at least two financial years of accounts to prove strong growth. Now entering their 22nd year, they are very much aimed at fast growing SMEs and entrepreneurial success stories. It’s a written entry, followed by all finalists being asked to sit in front of a panel of industry-leading judges for a 20 minute interview. We have noticed that green-related companies tend to fair well in these awards, so if you are doing the right thing when it comes to CSR and ESG then these would be a good fit for you. 

Region: UK  Ι  Deadline: June
Website: https://growingbusinessawards.co.uk/

The European Business Awards

Every company that enters is either proposed by their research team or nominated, and is then analysed to set criteria based on the core principles of the awards; Success, Innovation and Ethics. The process generates a Ones to Watch List of 100-250 companies per country, these eventually become 20-40 national winners, before going on to the European finals stage, where the 11 overall European winners are announced. They have become very credible with a prestigious line-up of judges and winning organisations. For some reason they don’t prove as popular as country-specific awards. Nevertheless, if you have a strong story then they are worth considering.

Region: Europe  Ι  Deadline: September
Website: https://www.businessawardseurope.com/

The International Business Awards (The International Stevies)

You might also want to consider these. See details in the next section, below.

We have a great story, but financial performance isn’t our strength

The vast majority of generic business awards hold great stock in financial performance. So if you haven’t experienced strong growth and strong profits in the past year then you will struggle, but there is one scheme where submitting financials is not mandatory and you are judged on your ‘achievements’ and you can define these however you choose:

The International Business Awards (The International Stevies)

These US-based awards are dramatically different to similar schemes run in the UK in many ways. Firstly, there is just a single stage – the written entry (typically 650 words, short summary and supporting material). Then there are over 140 categories to choose from, and gold, silver and often multiple bronze awards for each category. So loads of awards up for grabs, but about 4,000 entries each year vying for them. The great thing is while it is an international award, you don’t have to be an international company to enter them, nor do you have to attend the ceremony (unless of course you want to!). 

The scheme is also unusual in that you are told you are a bronze winner in advance, but only find out if you have won silver or gold on the night. So essentially the huge costs associated with attending an international awards event are easier to justify. This year sees the inclusion of a whole raft of COVID-19 Response categories that will prove popular. So in summary, fairly credible, great that they are “international” and very winnable.

Region: International  Ι  Deadline: August
Website: https://stevieawards.com/iba 

national business awards

“A common misconception is that the smaller the region, the easier an award is to win. This is not the case. We have seen stories win at global or national scale, but fail at local scale more than the other way around.”

We have very strong financial performance

There are a whole load of league table awards which are very easy to enter and your rank is based purely on the financial data you submit. They are not open to all mind you. Some are for listed companies and some are for technology companies only. We’ve listed the main ones below.

We are an exceptionally fast growing tech company

We are leading our sector in innovation 

There aren’t many awards that focus purely on innovation. The two main ones are:

The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise

These famous UK awards, covered extensively in a dedicated article on this site and outlined above, have a deadline of September and a category specifically for Innovation.

Region: UK  Ι  Deadline: September
Website: https://www.gov.uk/queens-awards-for-enterprise 

The Big Innovation Awards

This is a relatively new award scheme. The BIG Innovation Awards recognise those organisations and people who bring new ideas to life. Whether that idea is big or small, these ideas change the way we experience the world. Unlike other programmes, nominations are judged by recognisable leaders, not editors or writers with limited business experience.

The BIG Innovation Awards recognise every innovation that the judges deem worthy of recognition. Nominations are individually scored by a panel of experts, hand selected by its advisory panel and employees.

Region: International  Ι  Deadline: November
Website: https://www.bintelligence.com/big-innovation-awards/ 

Awards to avoid – a word of caution

Boost is truly independent of award schemes and therefore can honestly assess the credibility and suitability of different awards. With this in mind, here is a quick warning before we wrap up.

There are a few awards out there which are (in our view) nonsense, and not worth the space on your awards shelf, despite great sounding names. We don’t want to name names for legal reasons, but here are the tell-tale signs:

  • No awards dinner.
  • They contact you out of the blue to say you have been shortlisted for an award that you never entered.
  • Either unlimited winners, or numerous categories and subcategories suggesting everyone who enters is a winner.
  • You have to pay to receive a trophy or use the logo. Sometimes referred to as a winners pack or something.
  • They insist there is no charge for the awards, but then push for payment to be included in the winners brochure & marketing. 

You might be interested to read this Wikipedia article outlining ‘vanity awards’ and pay-to-win schemes. If you are in doubt about the provenance of an awards scheme, please contact us. We are truly independent and will give an honest assessment.

On a positive note, Boost is a co-founder of the Awards Trust Mark initiative (https://awardstrustmark.org/) which is a not-for-profit body that recognises awards schemes that adhere to a code of conduct for ethics and transparency. The goal here is to identify and highlight the most ethical awards out there and enhance public trust in the awards industry as a whole.

awards trust mark business awards
chris robinson

Chris Robinson

Founder & MD,
Boost Awards

Entering UK business awards & national business awards

Around 90% of the 4,000+ business awards in our database are targeted, recognising specific departments, people, or industry sectors. However, there is a whole collection of national business awards schemes which recognise the business as a whole, irrespective of industry sector. We call these ‘general business awards’, and they can be found in our Awards List under “Business Awards”.

Some of these awards you will probably have heard of, for example The Queens Awards for Enterprise and the National Business Awards, both long-established and highly prestigious recognition for any company. Others are perhaps slightly less well-known but could be more suitable for your company or the stakeholders you are looking to impress.  

This article will help you decide which of the many national and international business awards out there, are right for your business. We’ve also included a few top tips to increase your chances of winning them.

Are general UK business awards right for my company?

We tend to find that small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) who have been around for at least one whole financial year and are experiencing strong financial performance are most likely to enter this kind of scheme, however, it is not always the case as you will read. Some awards are aimed at only the very largest businesses.

With the vast majority of these awards you will need some vital ingredients: strong leadership, innovation, a happy workforce, happy customers and strong financial performance. You have to tick all the boxes to win the credible awards. With many schemes a few lost marks in any area could leave you out of the running.

NB. We recommend you consider the Boost awards planning or story review services to ensure you make good decisions here.

Regional, national or international business awards?

A common misconception is that the smaller the region, the easier an award is to win. This is not the case. We have seen stories win at global or national scale, but fail at local scale more than the other way around. It is certainly true that a local awards scheme will favour a very localised story (focused on a city or county) but if your business has a national story then local awards might not like it as much as a regionally focused story. The exception here is the Chamber Business Awards which has regional winners and then national winners chosen from the best regional winners. Here national stories tend to do well.

Interestingly, awards run in the USA tend to be easier to win because they have loads of categories and gold, silver and bronze awards for each. The reason they do this is because they can’t expect finalists to travel from all corners of the USA or the globe just because they are a finalist. However, people will travel if they know they are a winner. But to fill an awards dinner you need a lot of winners!

Now, let’s look at the specific award schemes, but instead of just listing them, consider which of the statements below best describes your business. If you spot one that does, then an award could be yours – if you pick wisely – and submit a knock out entry too (Boost can help here too).

We are a growing profitable business with a clever or disruptive story

Let’s start with this theme – the classic qualities of businesses most likely to win general business awards.

The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise

This is the first award to focus on, and indeed we have an entire article focused on just these awards. They are superb, credible and winnable awards IF you fall into one of four very specific camps alongside strong financial performance: innovative, exceptional in export, exceptional in sustainability and exceptional in supporting social mobility. If your business is not one of these four things and has enjoyed at least two years of strong financial growth, then skip these awards.

Region: UK  Ι  Deadline: September
Website: https://www.gov.uk/queens-awards-for-enterprise 

uk business awards

“A strong application has a good chance of shortlisting, but unless the face-to-face presentation, angle, evidence, and pitch are extremely strong, a win is a long shot. This is where Boost can help. We have a great track record of success and can help with both stages of your entry.” 

The National Business Awards

These prestigious UK awards, run by United Business Media, have previously included the prime minister, foreign secretary and Bob Geldof as hosts, so it is right to say they are high on credibility. The trouble is, as with many competitive awards, they are extremely difficult to win without help. They are also onerous to enter: the first stage entry process has been made easier in recent years, but there is still a not-very-short ‘shortlist’, and a resource-hungry second stage. In other words, a strong application has a good chance of shortlisting, but unless the face-to-face presentation, angle, evidence, and pitch are extremely strong, a win is a long shot. This is where Boost can help. We have a great track record of success and can help with both stages of your entry.

Region: UK  Ι  Deadline: June
Website: http://www.nationalbusinessawards.co.uk/

The Chamber Business Awards

Although sharing a deadline, these awards share little else with their competitors the National Business Awards. These UK-only awards, run by the British Chamber of Commerce, only have one stage – a rather demanding written entry – and then, rather than a shortlist, they have regional winners in all categories. This is generally good news with additional ‘awards’ up for grabs. Therefore, in summary these awards are highly credible, winnable with the correct approach, yet not too onerous to enter. We have written some top tips for entering the Chamber Business Awards

Region: UK Regional & UK National  Ι  Deadline: June (Please note that they are postponed until 2021 due to the pandemic)
Website: https://www.britishchambers.org.uk/events/chamber-awards

Management Today – Britain’s Most Admired Companies

Previously these followed a ranking format, but have have switched to a traditional entry format with 16 new categories to enter. It rewards organisations and individuals that are delivering excellence across all sectors, in all industries, with some great sounding categories and the association of Management Today, Britain’s best-established business title, makes them highly credible and desirable to win. The ceremony, due to take place at Claridge’s, the famous 5 star hotel in Mayfair, London is definitely an added incentive.      

Region: UK  Ι  Deadline: November
Website: https://www.mtbmacawards.com/ 

The UK Business Awards (The Dons)

Run by Awards International, these awards share their trademark format with their other awards: half the marks are earned by the written entry, and half from a face-to-face presentation to a panel of judges on the same day as the awards dinner. These awards are one of the first to successfully apply for a Gold Awards Trust Mark (a scheme aimed at raising standards and trust in the awards industry), so you can rest assured that the process has been rigorously assessed and adheres to a well researched code of conduct. With the ongoing pandemic situation, 2020 saw these awards become one of the first to move everything online – with virtual presentations, judging and the ceremony all in one day. 

Region: UK  Ι  Deadline: May
Website: https://ukbizawards.com/ 

The Growing Business Awards

These are also UK-only awards and, as the name suggests, require at least two financial years of accounts to prove strong growth. Now entering their 22nd year, they are very much aimed at fast growing SMEs and entrepreneurial success stories. It’s a written entry, followed by all finalists being asked to sit in front of a panel of industry-leading judges for a 20 minute interview. We have noticed that green-related companies tend to fair well in these awards, so if you are doing the right thing when it comes to CSR and ESG then these would be a good fit for you. 

Region: UK  Ι  Deadline: June
Website: https://growingbusinessawards.co.uk/

The European Business Awards

Every company that enters is either proposed by their research team or nominated, and is then analysed to set criteria based on the core principles of the awards; Success, Innovation and Ethics. The process generates a Ones to Watch List of 100-250 companies per country, these eventually become 20-40 national winners, before going on to the European finals stage, where the 11 overall European winners are announced. They have become very credible with a prestigious line-up of judges and winning organisations. For some reason they don’t prove as popular as country-specific awards. Nevertheless, if you have a strong story then they are worth considering.

Region: Europe  Ι  Deadline: September
Website: https://www.businessawardseurope.com/

The International Business Awards (The International Stevies)

You might also want to consider these. See details in the next section, below.

We have a great story, but financial performance isn’t our strength

The vast majority of generic business awards hold great stock in financial performance. So if you haven’t experienced strong growth and strong profits in the past year then you will struggle, but there is one scheme where submitting financials is not mandatory and you are judged on your ‘achievements’ and you can define these however you choose:

The International Business Awards (The International Stevies)

These US-based awards are dramatically different to similar schemes run in the UK in many ways. Firstly, there is just a single stage – the written entry (typically 650 words, short summary and supporting material). Then there are over 140 categories to choose from, and gold, silver and often multiple bronze awards for each category. So loads of awards up for grabs, but about 4,000 entries each year vying for them. The great thing is while it is an international award, you don’t have to be an international company to enter them, nor do you have to attend the ceremony (unless of course you want to!). 

The scheme is also unusual in that you are told you are a bronze winner in advance, but only find out if you have won silver or gold on the night. So essentially the huge costs associated with attending an international awards event are easier to justify. This year sees the inclusion of a whole raft of COVID-19 Response categories that will prove popular. So in summary, fairly credible, great that they are “international” and very winnable.

Region: International  Ι  Deadline: August
Website: https://stevieawards.com/iba 

national business awards

“A common misconception is that the smaller the region, the easier an award is to win. This is not the case. We have seen stories win at global or national scale, but fail at local scale more than the other way around.”

We have very strong financial performance

There are a whole load of league table awards which are very easy to enter and your rank is based purely on the financial data you submit. They are not open to all mind you. Some are for listed companies and some are for technology companies only. We’ve listed the main ones below.

We are an exceptionally fast growing tech company

We are leading our sector in innovation 

There aren’t many awards that focus purely on innovation. The two main ones are:

The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise

These famous UK awards, covered extensively in a dedicated article on this site and outlined above, have a deadline of September and a category specifically for Innovation.

Region: UK  Ι  Deadline: September
Website: https://www.gov.uk/queens-awards-for-enterprise 

The Big Innovation Awards

This is a relatively new award scheme. The BIG Innovation Awards recognise those organisations and people who bring new ideas to life. Whether that idea is big or small, these ideas change the way we experience the world. Unlike other programmes, nominations are judged by recognisable leaders, not editors or writers with limited business experience.

The BIG Innovation Awards recognise every innovation that the judges deem worthy of recognition. Nominations are individually scored by a panel of experts, hand selected by its advisory panel and employees.

Region: International  Ι  Deadline: November
Website: https://www.bintelligence.com/big-innovation-awards/ 

Awards to avoid – a word of caution

Boost is truly independent of award schemes and therefore can honestly assess the credibility and suitability of different awards. With this in mind, here is a quick warning before we wrap up.

There are a few awards out there which are (in our view) nonsense, and not worth the space on your awards shelf, despite great sounding names. We don’t want to name names for legal reasons, but here are the tell-tale signs:

  • No awards dinner.
  • They contact you out of the blue to say you have been shortlisted for an award that you never entered.
  • Either unlimited winners, or numerous categories and subcategories suggesting everyone who enters is a winner.
  • You have to pay to receive a trophy or use the logo. Sometimes referred to as a winners pack or something.
  • They insist there is no charge for the awards, but then push for payment to be included in the winners brochure & marketing. 

You might be interested to read this Wikipedia article outlining ‘vanity awards’ and pay-to-win schemes. If you are in doubt about the provenance of an awards scheme, please contact us. We are truly independent and will give an honest assessment.

On a positive note, Boost is a co-founder of the Awards Trust Mark initiative (https://awardstrustmark.org/) which is a not-for-profit body that recognises awards schemes that adhere to a code of conduct for ethics and transparency. The goal here is to identify and highlight the most ethical awards out there and enhance public trust in the awards industry as a whole.

awards trust mark business awards

Next steps?

Do any of these make you think “That’s us” or “We could win that”? If so, then I recommend you let us help with the creation of your written submission. We’ve been helping businesses enter awards since 2006 and are more experienced than any other agency in the world when it comes to these awards. Details of our award entry writing services can be found here.

I have personally helped companies enter and win many of the awards outlined above and I would be happy to give you a call to help you double check your chances of success and explain our pricing options. You can contact Boost via our contact form or email me directly via chris.robinson@boost-awards.co.uk

I look forward to hearing from you.

Chris.

Boost – a helping hand entering awards

Boost Awards is the world’s first and largest award entry consultancy, having helped clients – from SMEs to Multinationals – win over 1,400 credible business awards. Increase your chances of success significantly – call Boost on +44(0)1273 258703 today for a no-obligation chat about awards.

(C) This article was written by Chris Robinson and is the intellectual property of award entry consultants
Boost Awards

boost award entry writers

Awards List

Please take a look on our UK Awards List and International Awards List websites where you can find many more national and international business awards (amongst thousands of others covering all industry sectors and regions).

uk awards list

Next steps?

Do any of these make you think “That’s us” or “We could win that”? If so, then I recommend you let us help with the creation of your written submission. We’ve been helping businesses enter awards since 2006 and are more experienced than any other agency in the world when it comes to these awards. Details of our award entry writing services can be found here.

I have personally helped companies enter and win many of the awards outlined above and I would be happy to give you a call to help you double check your chances of success and explain our pricing options. You can contact Boost via our contact form or email me directly via chris.robinson@boost-awards.co.uk

I look forward to hearing from you.

Chris.

Boost – a helping hand entering awards

Boost Awards is the world’s first and largest award entry consultancy, having helped clients – from SMEs to Multinationals – win over 1,400 credible business awards. Increase your chances of success significantly – call Boost on +44(0)1273 258703 today for a no-obligation chat about awards.

(C) This article was written by Chris Robinson and is the intellectual property of award entry consultants
Boost Awards

boost award entry writers

Awards List

Please take a look on our UK Awards List and International Awards List websites where you can find many more employer-related awards (amongst thousands of others covering all areas of business).

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"I would be happy to answer any questions you may have about business awards and discuss the ways our team of award experts can help. Please email me at chris.robinson@boost-awards.co.uk with your contact details and I will be happy to arrange a call. Thanks, Chris

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