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How to write an award-winning application

Where do you start with an awards application? And, what makes you stand out from the rest of the pack?

In the latest issue of the Great British Entrepreneurs Magazine, we asked some of our judges what they look for in Great British Entrepreneur Awards submissions, and how you can catch their eye in 2020.

Martin Newman, The Consumer Champion, judge since 2019

When judging for the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, I’m looking for businesses that can demonstrate a clear vision for who they are, why they’re different to anyone else in the space they’re operating, where they’re going and how best they’re going to get there.

The idea in itself is obviously hugely important, but it’s being able to demonstrate how they’ve executed it that counts. I’m also looking for businesses that are defendable and have created clear points of difference, as these along with the tenacity of the founder and leadership team are what will help sustain the business over the long-term.

I’m looking for a business with a great culture, one that recognises the importance of putting its people first. People are at the heart of any business and no matter how good an idea is, without an engaged and motivated workforce, it is unlikely to succeed. To add to this, whether you’re selling to other businesses or to consumers, putting customers at the heart of all you do is critical for success. Therefore, I’m looking for businesses that are also strongly focused on customer-centricity.

I’m looking for entrepreneurs and businesses who can demonstrate that they clearly know how to sell and make a profit. As the saying goes, ‘turnover for vanity, profit for sanity’. While the entrants will be on a journey, and many won’t be mature enough yet to demonstrate profitability, I need to believe they have a plan of how to get there. Otherwise, they might end up with the best idea since sliced bread, but if it doesn’t make money, it’s not going to survive!

Last but not least, I’m looking for resilience in the entrepreneur. There will be many occasions when an entrepreneur feels like giving up or questions whether or not they’re capable of getting there successfully. If in doubt, read ‘Shoe Dog’ by Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, and his story of how he overcame many roadblocks and barriers along the way.

Jo Dalton, JD & Co, judge since 2016

Having been a judge for the past four years, what has impressed me most is the high standard, pedigree and sheer quality of applications that continue to improve each year. This is really encouraging and means the bar is incredibly high, one to top if you are considering applying this year.

I would advise people to focus on the problem they are trying to solve. For me, it has to have an impact beyond the financial one; how does it help society, what value does it bring to the consumer and what are its sustainability credentials? Showing diversity of thought amongst the key team, moving away from as many of the outdated stereotypes as possible, gets an extra tick in the box. As a self- confessed geek and immersed in the high-growth disruptive tech space, I like seeing innovative, new technology that is helping to make our lives easier, safer or save us precious time.

I love to read about the key talent in the business, the culture and find out about how they have created a really engaged and diverse workforce.

Finally, for me, as an angel investor having a personal passion around the circular economy, it’s great to see how people are attempting to make more out of the resources we already have on the planet and move away from the disposable, fast fashion and plastic nation we have been of old.

I am so excited to see and read about all of the new entrepreneurs who apply this year and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurship in the UK.

Evadney Campbell MBE, Shiloh PR, judge since 2017

As a GBEA judge, I’m always inspired by the entrepreneurs’ personal stories – what drove them to set up their business and what challenges they have faced in order to do so. Once they’ve explained these key issues, I want to know how they’ve solved these challenges. I like to know what their vision for the future is, but possibly more importantly, I want to be convinced that, whilst these dreams and visions may be ambitious, they are plausible.

I’ve become more and more aware of how very important these awards are. For all the businesses which have been shortlisted, and particularly for those who’ve gone on to win, the community offers an opportunity to make valuable connections and a platform from which they can parachute their business to the next level.

At Shiloh PR, we frequently encourage our clients, whether through our many training workshops, or those we represent for public relations campaigns, to put themselves forward for awards. One of the most important questions is, how credible is that award? Being a winner or finalist of GBEA is one of those honours worth having. It’s an award that carries immense credibility across the country. We believe it’s one of those awards any business can truly capitalise on for their future growth and potential success.

I’m truly looking forward to being a judge for 2020. As the owner of an SME, I too learn so much from many of the applications I come across. I would urge anyone thinking of applying to go ahead and do so.

You can view the full, digital version of the Great British Entrepreneurs Magazine here.