Everyone wants to be a winner. Besides boosting your ego, winning awards gives your company quite a bit of clout. So why haven’t you applied for that award?

I know the forms can be lengthy and tedious and sometimes you don’t have all the information you need on hand. Well, I’m here to tell you that’s no longer a good enough excuse. Here are just a few reasons to apply for awards and tips to make the process less stressful.

Why Apply?

For the Exposure  When you are nominated or apply for a business award you receive recognition from peers in your industry. These awards in turn impress potential customers as they decide whether or not to work with you.

Typically, you’ll be able to create press releases to send to local media, publish on your blog, share in your newsletter and through your social media accounts. There are usually graphics (web badges or icons) available to nominees and winners which can be displayed on your website giving you additional credibility.

Hangout with the Best – As a nominee you get to rub elbows with other bigwigs in your industry. This is a great way to network and make new business connections. It’s also a sign you are a force to be reckoned with. If you weren’t on your competitor’s radar before, you will be now.

How to Prepare

It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the lengthy paperwork required to complete a nomination application. It is common to be asked for a list of the community events your company has been involved in throughout the year, charitable donations you have made and the other awards you have received.

Can you answer all of those questions off the top of your head? You might be able to, but chances are you’re going to forget some things. Here’s what I recommend. Create a Word doc or Excel spreadsheet and start tracking volunteer activities and donations now. Update that document throughout the year and you will be able to refer to it when it comes time to fill out award forms.

As you are documenting this information about your community involvement post it on your website or social media. Don’t wait for an award application to talk about what you are doing. Create press releases for charitable donations or sponsorship opportunities. This will also leave you with material to use as a resource for your nomination.

As you apply for awards it is a great time to evaluate and analyze annual performance. What worked and what didn’t? Should you host another contest on social media? Should you consider running Facebook ads or investing in Google AdWords? What did your competitors do that you didn’t do?

Financials – Most awards require submission of limited or detailed financials. As a small business owner, you are used to keeping these records private. I understand that, but in order to be considered you will have to submit the data. Typically submissions require 2-3 years of financial data including income statements and balance sheets. Reputable awards will keep this data private and only members of the review committee will have access to the information.

Last Steps

Once you have completed the form, don’t just hit submit or email it. Have a second and maybe even a third person look over the form. They will help catch any typos, but they might also add additional events, awards and volunteer work to bolster your application. Don’t underestimate the importance of the grammar and spelling check. Nothing says you didn’t take the nomination seriously like spelling errors!

At the end of the day you can’t just sit back and wait to be acknowledged by your peers or industry leaders. You have to be proactive. Start looking for appropriate awards to pursue. Here are some you might consider:

Local awards

National awards

The deadlines for many of these awards is the end of March. It is too late to apply this year, but this is a great time to start collecting information for next year. Now you won’t win every award every single time, but keep applying and looking for new opportunities to showcase the amazing work your company is doing. We’ll be looking for you in the Winner’s Circle.

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