Innovation and enterprise blog

The British Library Business & IP Centre can help you start, run and grow your business

20 January 2015

And the award for Celebrating and Promoting Your Business goes to…

The much anticipated Hollywood awards season is in full swing with big events taking place, including the infamous Golden Globes and the Academy Awards. But there are many awards that you, and your business, can be included in without heading for the Hollywood hills. But why get involved? Jeremy O’Hare is a Relationship Manager for the British Library’s Innovating for Growth programme, which provides £10,000 of fully-funded and tailored advice for businesses looking to grow. Jeremy tells us why awards are a sure fire way of creating a buzz around your business and enhancing your brand. 


Innovating for Growth Project Manager Christina Murphy giving out an award at the British Chambers of Commerce Awards to Sepha Ltd


A challenge for every business is how to distinguish themselves from their competitors, often on limited resources. This means maximising your marketing and PR impact through endorsements, social media and regular referrals. But you should also be considering using awards to boost your business.

Awards are one of the simplest ways of getting great PR and there’s a reason why it’s so effective. It’s endorsement from a judging panel of business ‘experts’ and having the title of ‘award winning’ is confirmation that consumers can trust you.  And that’s a giant leap forward to closing sales and generating leads.

And the nominees are…

Meredith O’Shaughnessy of Meredith Bespoke is winner of Home Based Business of the Year, 2014 and of Event Magazine’s “50 Fab Newcomers”. She believes, “if you operate in a saturated market, such as ours, awards help differentiate you and put a ‘stamp of approval’ on the work that you do.”


Meredith Bespoke
Meredith O’Shaughnessy with colleagues from Meredith Bespoke


Nicola Gammon of Shoot Gardening recently won the People’s Choice awards at the Good Web Guides Awards 2014 and gardening category best website and knows the importance of attracting customers to her website, “if you’re a start-up then customers will be trying to size you up as to whether your company is worthwhile dealing with. When you win an award they'll think to themselves, ‘I should really consider doing business with that company.’” 


Nicola GWG win (2)
Nicola Gammon with her People’s Choice award


There are many other real benefits that come from winning an award. Meredith has also found that being an award winner is an important part of contributing to company culture. “We like to celebrate successes internally and having external recognition really helps with that. It encourages the whole team.” Another upside is that it’s easier to recruit the right people, as is Nicola’s experience, winning an award shows you have a winning idea and team. People want to work with winners.”

Top tips from our award winners:

  • Invest the time properly to apply for each award. Make sure you pitch your application to the specific judging criteria outlined for each one. Applications can be quite detailed, so make sure you gather all the information you require well in advance so you are not rushed as the deadline approaches. 
  • Try to think what the award is really celebrating and then highlight this aspect in your application. 
  • Have your application reviewed by a copywriter who knows how to sell the benefits of your product or service or at by at least two other people who can correct any mistakes.
  • Have the passion of what you do shine through in the application. It’s not all about dry facts and figures, important that those are in supporting your application.
  • And if you win, make sure to get a photo on award night to circulate on social media and to share with your customers!

Nicola and Meredith’s businesses are two recent award winners that the British Library has been able to help on our Innovating for Growth programme. Other award winner’s we’re proud to have helped are Today’s PA, Living the Dream and Lend Me Your Literacy, read more about them here.

Best SME goes to…

So, where can you find out about awards? There are some well-known awards profiled on our COBRA database here at the Business & IP Centre and listed below are some of the major awards that SMEs enter, including:

Keep an eye out for sector awards. For example, awards for Social Enterprise include:

Other specialist awards include those for young entrepreneurs:

There are dozens more! You could even aspire to the Queen’s Award for Enterprise. The best approach is to search for your particular industry and keep up to date with relevant e-newsletters and trade association news for award announcements. Trade associations love giving out awards and businesses/publications love to sponsor them too. So the selection is many and varied.

Most awards tend to be given out toward the end of the calendar year, so look out for applications opening from late Spring/Summer.

Don’t forget to plan your acceptance speech!

I should’ve added a word of warning at the beginning, once you start entering awards, you may find you can’t stop entering them! Persistence and celebrating success are two great traits key to running your own business. Good luck in carrying both!


Jeremy O’Hare is a Relationship Manager for the British Library’s Innovating for Growth programme, which provides £10,000 of fully-funded and tailored advice for businesses looking to grow. Since joining the British Library in 2005 he has worked with countless businesses, facilitating advice and research as well as providing workshops and information advice for start-ups and established businesses.

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Innovating for Growth is run by the British Library and part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund


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