Are you entering awards? If not, why not? In this FAQ Business Podcast episode we look at why even as a new business owner you may want to enter awards, and the scams to look out for. Today’s episode is entering awards – what you need to know.
This episode focuses on Australian business awards, but the principles contained within can be applied more broadly.
Disclaimer – All information provided today is general in nature. We do not know your individual circumstances, so seek advice for your situation from a trusted advisor.
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S2 Ep28 Entering awards – what you need to know transcript of the FAQ Business Podcast
When thinking about entering business awards, do you think? No, I’m not good enough. Think again. Too new in business? There are often categories, which can be for you. Some awards can be easy. Some are more difficult to get to the finalist stage. There’s also many a scam to watch out for and navigate your way through. Today let’s talk about entering awards and what you need to know.
00:23 Introduction to the FAQ Business Podcast
Welcome to the FAQ Business Podcast for business owners, covering four pillars, actionable education, inspiring leaders, businesses like you, and thought leadership, where we challenge your thinking hosted by myself, Jane Tweedy, I’m founder and lead trainer of FAQ Business Training, where we want to avoid you getting ripped off or ripping yourself.
We’ll feature an amazing diversity of guests with lots to educate and inspire you. Let’s jump into today’s episode of the FAQ Business Podcast.
01:04 Some tips to enter business awards
Hi, I’m Jane Tweedy from FAQ Business Training and host of the FAQ Business Podcast, and award winner. Today I want to give you some tips about what awards to consider entering, the issues to watch out for and the benefits of entering awards. Firstly, I’m going to get the scam issue out the way.
01:23 Avoid you getting ripped off entering fake business awards
As you know, our mission at FAQ Business is to avoid you getting ripped off because of what you didn’t know you didn’t know. You’ll want to avoid scams as they’ll cost you money, time, may threaten your cybersecurity and you could lose your credibility. I get on Instagram pretty much daily fake accounts with no followers and no posts telling you to contact another account on Instagram. Be one of the top 30 coaches in the NYC Journal or something similar. Sounds cool. Right? It’s not a real publication. Well, it’s a publication created for the purpose. There is a publication, but not something people would actually go out and buy or has any reputation attached.
They of course will ask you for information, money for it to be assessed and there maybe publication costs an expectation to promote, suckering in more people. Are you really ready to do this to the world? Do you want to put yourself up for that? Clearly it’s fake. Don’t do it.
02:28 Even Amazon bestselling author is easily manipulated
Even Amazon Bestseller status is a little bit fake. It’s really easy to manipulate it and get yourself on the bestseller list. Do you know that technically I’m an Amazon bestseller author for a book that I don’t even want to acknowledge, due to a shocking publishing experience with a scam publisher. That’s a whole other podcast episode.
02:50 Precedent Awards are legitimate
There are plenty of awards. For instance, Precedent runs a number of awards. They are completely legitimate but are possibly going too far. For instance, the Australian Small Business Champion Awards, back in 2020, I was excited to be a finalist in the business services category. But then you realize there are about 20 finalists. But, Okay. It’s Australia wide. So I guess that’s still pretty impressive.
03:15 Feels to me a bit watered down
This year things have been somewhat watered down. There were 3, 500 nominations and I think, cool. I got finalist. However, they added a hundred industry categories to already about 30 or so categories they had. So now if there’s like 15 or 20 finalists in each category. I’m guessing that’s over 1500 finalists, about half of the nominations.
03:38 It felt like everyone was a finalist
Still tiny when you consider there’s a million businesses in Australia. But by the time I went to share my finalist news, I was almost embarrassed to put it up, because who didn’t get through to finalist? All my friends seemed to. I feel it’s lost some of its appeal. Or maybe I just have an amazing peer group and we were all completely deserving. Let’s run with that one.
04:02 Lots more opportunities to enter awards
They’ve also now added a woman’s version this year and they also run the Local business Awards here in Australia. More opportunities to be a winner and a finalist, and it’s mostly via self-nomination. Self-nomination is how most awards are entered. Nominate yourself.
04:21 Some awards you can be nominated by others
Sometimes the customer can nominate you, but you still need to accept that nomination and complete the details. I have received such nominations in the past and in some cases I accepted them, and in some like AusMumpreneur, I didn’t, because I would have felt like a fraud and taking the award away from a real mum. I’m very much a part-time step-mum and full-time mum to my fur babies. Although technically I was eligible. I didn’t feel it was for me. Plus the mumpreneur tag, that’s a whole other podcast right there.
Many awards require the nominee to enter details, so often there’s no choice apart from self-nominating.
05:01 Is sharing award nominations a bit much? Maybe it can be okay
There’s an awards at the moment. Where people are celebrating, being a nominee. And I’m like, why would you, if you self-nominated. Maybe they didn’t. Maybe they were genuinely nominated by someone else and wanted to share that someone thought enough for them to do so. That’s cool.
However, I would also agree to someone celebrating because they’re entering as a nominee for the first time. They finally put themselves out there. Because for some people that’s a big hurdle to overcome, and it needs to be celebrated.
So, okay. Maybe I’d caveat this one. Externally nominated or brave enough to do it for the first time. Great. Sometimes you have to say you’re a nominee or up for consideration because you need to ask people for votes. This applies to the Local Business Awards. Celebrating being a finalist, I get, because you’ve either been chosen by your peers or by a panel of judges.
06:00 Nominating yourself for the Local Business Awards is pretty easy
Nominating yourself for the Local Business Awards is pretty easy, and it’s easy enough to get yourself through to the final stage for many of the categories, with enough of some following from clients or a decent social media presence. So, all you do is nominate yourself. For the local business awards. To make finalist, you simply need enough votes in your category. The number of finalists varies. I’ve seen from four to over 20 in a category. So it’s pretty easy to get there.
06:32 Choose your awards category to enter
Some categories will of course be harder. Choose your category. For instance, I initially went for professional services, competing with an accountant that was always up there. In education. the winner of the prior two years had actually closed. So by switching over to education I had more of a chance.
Competing against the driving school, and first aid and things. There was only one of the business trainer. The terms are kind of loose though, because I was also competing with things like accountants in professional services, but some categories are crazy. I’m thinking, how do you compare a driving school to me, but how would you compare all the sole traders or specialised businesses together. That’s crazy. I can see why the Australian Small Business Champion Awards might’ve added categories.
A hairdresser category versus a sole trader category. It could be anything. So it’s hard to work out who’s deserving. I’ve looked sometimes at the entrants and gone. Oh yeah, they deserve to win. And then look. They deserve to win. How would you judge those categories? So hard.
07:33 The full Local Business Awards process is as follows
You nominate yourself and set yourself up a profile. When voting opens for your area, you ask for people to vote for you. Reminding them to click on the email to confirm their vote.
Finalists are then selected, if you get enough votes. What is enough? They don’t tell us. And it does change each year. A few years ago, there were only five finalists in one of the area’s sole trader category. In other years, there’s 20. So don’t let those possibly big categories scare you off. They do send you a pretty finalist pack too, if you get there.
08:09 Finalists are asked to answer questions – great as a positive business review
Once at the finalist stage, you will be asked about 11 questions, the history of the business services, you provide, philosophy, staff, achievements, stuff like that. The best thing about this exercise, and one of the best things about entering the awards, is it gets you to stop and reflect and think about your business and the good stuff you’ve done. Not just focusing on what you didn’t achieve.
08:32 Gala awards dinner
And then they have a gala awards dinner. Prices went up a lot last year. $250 for my area, the Australian Small Business Champion Awards this year are $350 a ticket. Quite a lot for small business. However, running an awards dinner is not cheap. Between the venue, audio visual, dinner, drinks, the awards, entertainment, decor dadadada…
The price tag is substantial. Plus for both the Local Business Awards and the Australian Small Business Champion Awards, you do not pay to enter. The only entry cost is the awards dinner ticket, and sponsors.
09:09 Don’t tell your team, you’re taking them until you find out the price
Good little tip there. The good news with the above awards is that you don’t have to attend to be in the running to win. You are actually chosen on merit at that finalist stage.
09:24 A valid reason for requiring award night attendance
I really like this and it gives me a lot more feeling of legitimacy. However, I asked someone just this week, why she wanted people to attend the awards dinner to be in it to win it. And she said it was because the awards lose a lot, when people aren’t there to accept. And you think about it. It’s true.
Even at the Oscars, if someone isn’t there, it’s a bit of a letdown when they say. So-and-so won the award and we accept it on their behalf. No tears, no gaffs, no statements. No nothing. No even as they pull you off to the side with the music playing.
09:58 Less valid is making a lot of money!
A lot of awards require you to attend in order to be in the running to win. And I think many are not doing it for that reason. It is purely revenue-generating and to help cover costs. Makes me feel a bit ick towards some of them. Personally, I think more awards should charge more for entries, to help spread the cost of evaluating the entries, marketing and administration of the awards, and the awards themselves amongst more participants.
Again, I don’t think many people appreciate how much these costs actually are. Some it wasn’t just the dinner, it was a conference or something you had to attend too. For me, it’s not just the money. It’s time and it’s travel too.
10:40 You’re not getting the best of the best
It’s the best of a select few. I tend to avoid these ones.
10:47 Another example of asking WAY too much!
On LinkedIn I was sent a message to say, congratulations. You’ve been nominated as top coach the year. There were so many major ethics issues with this one. You know, who nominated you. Like it was a happy client or something. No! It was you who scraped LinkedIn for coaches, and sent this message to me.
11:08 Finalists were expected to buy a whole table at the awards dinner!
But it was in reading the fine print that I was really disgusted, you could accept the nomination, and if you were a finalist, you had to agree not to just buy a ticket for you, but an entire table at an undisclosed cost. Based on those numbers earlier, you’d be looking at $1500 to three and a half thousand dollars. That just feels wrong. And if it feels wrong, don’t do it. I certainly wasn’t the only one that baulked at the idea and told them so, because they actually ended up cancelling the awards. It was just not legitimate.
11:43 Industry awards often the most credible
Often we go for industry awards, they’re are a lot more credible. The most relevant of them could be things like industry associations, where the entire database can be given that opportunity to be a winner. But typically all awards are subset only.
11:58 In all awards you’re the best of a subset
We had advisor awards, and they were purely based on case studies. No case studies. No entry to the awards. In all awards you’re never really the best. You’re always best of the subset. Who were eligible, who accepted entry, who paid to enter the event if it was required.
12:16 The Stevie Awards are more like benchmarking
The Stevie Awards are quite prestigious international awards, but to me they’re more like a benchmarking or certification than an award. They had some free categories during the COVID period, but for the normal paid awards you choose your award category, submit your quite substantial fee and then you would be assessed.
Once you reach a certain standard, you will get, say for instance, a gold award or a silver award, but it means you’ve attained that level, not that you’re the best of everybody, for instance. But you do you. Does that feel right to you? And I think, hey, a benchmark is still a really cool thing to have achieved.
12:56 You can be a Stevie Awards judge too
You can also volunteer to be a judge for these awards. Bear in mind that means anyone else could too. So the judges of these awards are getting your intel and your ideas, and it could be an issue for you. You could treat yourself as more of a community inspiration or giving away trade secrets. Would you have done that if you knew that. Again, it’s something to consider.
13:18 Be aware of who can access and what happens to your entry submission
The application process is a really good time to review and reflect on your business. Some do though ask for quite a lot of confidential information. In one case years ago, it wasn’t actually for an awards, but rather they were looking for an award-winning idea, you pitch your idea and the top one won $25,000. However, all the other entries were now owned by the organization, to do with what they wanted. What a cheap way to get new innovation in a big business. And again, an example where you really need to read that fine print.
Make sure you know, what the information you’re providing will be used for, in addition to any judging for the awards.
14:02 Issuing press releases for media to run a story
With many awards, including things like Roar and AusMumpreneur, they help encourage you to ask for press releases. You’d think it might be a slow news day to run a story in some of these cases. But if it helps you get your message out and you have an angle and it works, why not? If your story has enough angle then please share your story.
I have seen people get successful public relations (PR) for the most trivial of things.
14:28 Could change your profile or cover photo and put up signage
Some people change their profile photo to the finalist image from the awards. And that’s all cool, because honestly, Joe Blow in the public doesn’t know how easy or hard that finalists award was to obtain. Shopfront finalist signs put in the window. The Precedent run awards make this really easy for you because they give you a pretty little pack.
14:47 What category or categories, should you enter?
Where possible look back at past entries. In the Australian Small Business Champion Awards, performing arts split out to music schools, for instance. So the new category might be more appropriate. I wasn’t sure whether professional services was more suited or educational services. And I found peers in both. So I went for the one, honestly I thought I had more chance of winning. Why not?
15:17 Do you need to promote the awards? Are you happy to?
Some awards will have a condition of entry forcing you to promote the awards. Do you want your name associated with it? If you, don’t feel comfortable. Don’t go for it. However, in some cases it actually forces you to take an action. And sharing your wins, which is actually a good thing to do in your business.
15:36 It sounded like the overall winner’s business was failing – is that really the ‘best’?
I was at an awards where the category winner became the overall winner for the night. And yet their acceptance speech sort of indicated they were on the brink of closure. I’m not sure that’s the greatest reflection of an expectation of the best. It could be that they had amazing service or product, but their business was actually failing.
15:57 You have to be in it to win it!
I’ve seen people win, who other people could easily have beaten. The best of the entrants win. Just like lotto, you’ve got to be in it to win it.
16:08 You can use an award writer or do it yourself
Don’t know what to say? There are award writers out there who can do it for you. People like Erin Huckle. However, it is pretty easy to do it yourself. I do my own, and I made it to the finalist stage, and was winner of the 2021 Penrith Local Business Awards for Educational Services. Honestly, the key thing to do is to follow instructions. I think you should be putting the entry together yourself quite honestly. Some are now asking for videos to make sure it is actually you.
16:38 Check information is correct and relevant
Make sure all the information you include is correct. And be careful of adding superlatives that just don’t apply to you. Answer the questions as asked. Follow any guidelines they give you to tell you what to include in those answers. Can you add attachments? Do so if they are relevant to your application.
Too many people fail in the submission, because they didn’t answer the questions correctly, and instead waffled on randomly.
17:07 Keep a file of the answers as most awards have very similar questions
Keep a record, especially of the award-winning answers to use as your base going forward. If you do pay a writer, make sure you have the right to use or regurgitate the content for future awards. They own the copyright and they may have only given you a single use license of it.
17:31 Keep entering awards
You may not get a yes that first time around. So keep going. If you did get to the final stage or win, and even sometimes the nomination stage, like we talked about earlier, market it.
17:44 If you win, milk it!
I was sitting next to a gold sponsor from CBA and even he said milk it. Use it for publicity. Get credibility and use it for social proof. You can say award winning on your socials, your website, your pitch decks. It sounds good.
17:59 Summary tips about entering awards for your business
So in summary, make sure the awards are legitimate and credible. Make sure you are proud to associate your name with the awards.
Weigh up the time versus the cost in completing your application, remembering it is a good way to review your business and it does get easier as you do it.
Leverage your time by applying for more awards. And retain those answers in that file to use them again next time. Use your success for social proof, feeling worthy and, give yourself that pat on the back.
18:34 When are you going to be entering your first awards?
When are you going to be entering your first awards or revisiting how you’ve entered the past ones? Thanks so much for listening in to this award winner on the FAQ Business Podcast.
18:47 Thank you for listening and please subscribe and review the FAQ Business Podcast
Thank you for listening to today’s episode of the FAQ business podcast available on all good podcast services. You can subscribe today via FAQ business podcast.com AU subscribe, follow share, and we are able review our podcast. We look forward to inspiring and educating you again on the FAQ business podcast.
Today’s podcast episode featured our host Jane Tweedy. Her details are as follows:
Jane is a Professional Certified Coach with International Coaching Federation (PCC with ICF), business advisor and trainer. She loves working with growing small to medium business owners who are doing the right thing, to help them do it right! Currently, Jane offers at least 50 live sessions a year to train small business owners.
Jane offers a variety of services to clients and her online school and membership site went live late 2021. Jane’s focus for 2022 is building the membership and online school out further, and offering implementable small group training – something she finds is often the missing link.
If you are interested in training, speaking, or anything else Jane has to offer, please connect via firstname.lastname@example.org or via the contact forms on our websites.
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