Thinking About Applying for an Industry Award? Here Are 11 Things to Consider First

11 Factors to Weigh When Deciding Which Awards are Worth Your Time

One of the best ways to connect with potential clients and investors is through business or industry awards. Awards can give your brand or company weight, validate your skills and abilities, generate buzz and give those spending money with your company the confidence that they are contributing to an already successful project or product. Yet, it can be difficult to narrow down which awards are worth your time. That’s why we asked entrepreneurs from the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following:

“What is one key thing you look for when determining whether a business or industry award is worth applying for?”

How to Know Which Awards are Worth Your Time

Here’s what YEC community members had to say:

1. If It’s Merit-Based

“Many awards today are pay for play, and that makes them less valuable. It means they generally don’t have as strong coverage and many times people will know you paid for it. Winning awards that are competitive in nature often carry more prestige, more organic coverage, bragging rights and makes you feel more accomplished. Anyone can write a check, but winning a competition captures your hard work.” ~ Raoul Davis, Ascendant Group

2. Past Winners

“I like to see how well they do at selecting winners. The past winners tell me what they aim for and how they view winners. No one wants to enter a competition where all the past winners are now out of business. Instead, they want to see the organization picked true winners that continue to be successful.” ~ Serenity Gibbons, NAACP

3. Award’s Reputation

“What is the reputation of this award? You can win an award for just about anything, but you want to go after awards that will expand the recognition of your business. Going after and winning highly regarded awards will take you 10 times further than an award no one knows about.” ~ Zach Binder, Bell + Ivy

4. If I’ll Care About It in 10 Years

“Winning awards is great, but winning awards that matter is better. While there are hundreds of local, state, federal or industry awards, it can be a huge time suck and cost to your company to be applying and entering into every single one. Before entering ask yourself, “Will I care about this in 10 years?” If the answer is yes, then, by all means, apply to the Forbes 30 Under 30! If not, take a pass!” ~ Kim Kaupe, The Superfan Company

5. Watch Your Competition

“We vet awards with a simple technique: Do our competitors participate in these competitions? If other market vendors are heavily promoting their accomplishments and awards in given challenges, then it’s worth pursuing these for. Otherwise, we would critically assess unknown industry awards unless our clients mention them during pre-sales calls.” ~ Mario Peshev, DevriX

6. Application Process and Timing

“Before applying to a business award, do some research on the application process. If the application process is lengthy and will take time to put together, you may be too busy to even apply. Especially if the application deadline is during a very hectic period for your business. If the application process is going to take valuable time away from more important tasks, it may be better to skip it.” ~ Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

7. Return on Investment

“Applying for business and industry awards requires a considerable amount of time and often investments as well. However, when won, these awards also provide a great deal of exposure to potential clients and customers. When considering which accolades are worth the investment of time and funds, I evaluate the level of advertising or promotion the awarding agency does to promote the award winners.” ~ Joey Kercher, Air Fresh Marketing

8. Relevance for the Company

“Before investing time into applying for awards, do an ego-check and figure out if the award is more relevant for your company, or for you. If your customers will respect the award, prospects will learn about you and your team will be excited (because it’s a team win), then go for it! If the award is more about you bragging, it’s probably not worth your time. Spend those hours building instead.” ~ Aaron Schwartz, Passport

9. Which Needle It Moves

“All companies have a limited amount of energy and resources, which is why it is essential to prioritize engagements and efforts. When determining if a market or award is worth our time, we ask: “Which needle does this move?” If we find that it will move our current efforts forward, and potentially more efficiently, then we decide it’s worth our time. It always comes down to current customers.” ~ Tom Burden, Grypmat

10. People Are Talking About It

“If no one knows about the award you’re thinking of applying for, it may not be worth it to take the plunge. If few to no people in your industry have heard about the award, it’ll be difficult to prove its significance or value to your business. Make sure it’s something that’s worth your time and energy to invest in before going all the way and talk to other professionals in your industry.” ~ Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights

11. If We Earned It

“Instead of focusing on the actual award, I try to get an unbiased opinion on whether or not we deserve the award. I put myself in the shoes of other industry leaders and consider whether or not I would feel that my company earned a spot as an outsider. If I have to think about it too much, I usually decide to focus on why I don’t think we earned a shot and what we can do to improve.” ~ Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner


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.