10 Critical Tips to Applying for Business Awards (and How to Find Ones Worth Your Time)


Getting recognized by peers can significantly increase a business’s exposure, potentially resulting in increased visibility and more customers. However, not all awards are worth the time and effort to apply to them. Some of them don’t carry a lot of weight with other experts in the field, some you may not even qualify for and others try to get businesses to pay them for consideration. But which ones are worth it? To offer their best advice, 10 professionals from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) respond to the following question:

“Winning a business award is a point of pride for many small business owners. But what’s one tip they should know about finding awards they are eligible for and that are worth their time?”

Consider these tips if you’re a small-business owner looking for an award that’ll enhance your company’s standing.

1. Set Up Alerts

“A first step should be to set up alerts and collect as much information as possible about rewards related to your industry. Once you have a list of potential award opportunities, you can start narrowing down the right ones by eliminating the ones you don’t qualify for. As you go through this process, you’ll identify the best opportunities for you without missing anything important.” ~ Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

2. Be Active on Social Media

“The best way to learn about awards in my industry is to be active on different social media platforms. I like to join different industry-specific communities on LinkedIn and Facebook. Staying active in these communities is a great way to keep yourself updated about the latest events in the industry. This also includes finding awards that you are eligible for.” ~ Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster

3. Check Out Competitors’ Awards

“First look at awards your competitors have won or entered and check the entry requirements; if you meet them, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t apply! After that, a quick search about awards in your industry should pull up lots of leads to investigate and apply for. Entering and/or winning awards really helps spread the word about and increase trust in your brand.” ~ Emily Stallings, Casely, Inc.

4. Look at Your Role Models

“Look at the role-model entrepreneurs or businesses you aspire to be like or compete with and look up what awards are attached to their names. From there, begin the process of understanding which awards you may be eligible for. If you aren’t eligible yet, you know what lies ahead of you to become a candidate for the award.” ~ Matthew Podolsky, Florida Law Advisers, P.A.

5. Leverage Review Platforms

“One tip for finding awards that small businesses are eligible for and that are worth their time is on review platforms such as Clutch and Trustpilot. These platforms group small and medium companies based on their expertise and they give out recognitions based on verified customer reviews. These awards are worth the time and are valuable because they’re backed up by great reviews from actual clients.” ~ Alfredo Atanacio, Uassist.ME

6. Sign Up for Email Lists

“Personally, I find big-name publications in my industry and subscribe to their email lists. When there’s a contest taking place with a business award, there’s usually an email that lets everyone know. I review the message and see if my company fits the criteria. If so, I enter the event.” ~ John Turner, SeedProd LLC

7. Check Local Business Journals

“Local business journals are a good source for awards. Once you register for one, you are usually included in other awards they are publishing routinely. Also seek out awards sites online, but be wary. Some sites are simply money grabs and the awards are given out too much and too easy.” ~ Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design

8. Check Industry Websites and Online Publications

“Check online resources such as related industry websites and internet trade publications. One quick way to determine if it’s worthwhile is to answer the question as to whether winning it will be relevant in five years. Don’t forget to check out local business awards as well.” ~ Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

9. Start With Your Local Organizations

“Start locally. Your local chamber of commerce or magazines or shows may have programs that give awards to businesses. Make sure to check with these organizations to see what awards you can apply for. If you happen to meet the requirements already, move forward to your business category and check for opportunities to “steal” your competitors’ awards. It definitely shows value once you get that recognition.” ~ Daisy Jing, Banish

10. Vet Awards Organizations Carefully

“There are tons of organizations that give out awards arbitrarily. This is a quick and dirty trick some businesses rely on to network with influential people or solicit donations. There are many cases where awards are given to people for the sole purpose of generating publicity through an association in the media. Because of this, you should carefully vet any organization that nominates you.” ~ Bryce Welker, CPA Exam Guy

Image: Depositphotos

The Young Entrepreneur Council The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.