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Entries have opened for the Mendip Business Awards and the Chamber would love to see even more Frome companies put themselves forward for an accolade.

So to help, this year we organised our first Discuss and Do event of 2020 to look at how to apply for business awards. We’ve gathered the top tips shared during the event.

1: You need to be in it to win it! So make sure you enter! It can be time-consuming to enter business awards but it’s an excellent chance to take a step back from your business and have a good think about what you do and why you think you’re good at it. Spending time on an award entry is time well spent because you can usually reuse the content in other award entries, with the minimum of rewriting. So use your entry to Mendip Business Award as a starting point for the Somerset Business Awards (run by Somerset Chamber of Commerce) then check out these other business awards and see if you could enter those as well.

2: Read the category descriptions carefully to make sure you fulfil the category requirements. This might mean ensuring you meet the geographical limitations or the size of business. Then make sure you answer all questions asked. And don’t let the judges guess what you do. While it might make sense to you what your business is all about don’t assume judges will know so spell it out.

3: Make sure you can show that you are a viable and profitable business or a start-up with a bright future. Judges want to be sure they are giving an award to a business that will be around in the future so make sure you can show you are on the up.

4: Focus on the positive. This award submission is a celebration of what you do – but don’t lie! What makes you stand out from your competitors? What makes you unique and special? Give a flavour of what you do.

5: Make sure you back up your comments with statistics, case studies and testimonials, particularly if the category description calls for information about what your customers say about you. If you can send brochures or samples of food if you’re going for something food-related!

6: Get someone outside the business to read your submission to see if they understand what you do and why you’re special enough to get an award. If they don’t get what you do then you know you need a bit of a rewrite.

7: Some award schemes offer feedback from past winners so check out if there’s anything you can learn from them to strengthen your submission. This might give you ideas on case studies to include or ways to write your entry.

8: Be imaginative about which category to go for. You may have a voluntary scheme you run with your staff or a project you’re working on that would fit perfectly for another category.

9: Don’t be afraid to contact organisers to see if they offer advice on writing submissions. Some will also give feedback afterwards to show how you can strengthen your submission the following year. If you don’t win one year then this is a good way to strengthen your submission for the following year. Don’t be put off if you don’t win first time. It might be just because you need to showcase what you do in a better way and feedback will help.

10: Some award schemes will visit your business so if you get to this stage make sure you plan carefully for the visit, don’t leave it to chance. Spend some time planning how to demonstrate the evidence you put forward and don’t assume judges will know what you do. Visits will sometimes include businesses which sponsor the category you have entered so do a bit of research on what they do because it could give you an important insight in what they might be interested in hearing more about when they visit your business.

11: Plan what you are going to do to promote the fact you have entered! There is plenty you can do on your website and social media to show that you have entered and in the run-up to the award ceremony. If you get to be a finalist or win then think about what you can do to shout about it. Think logos on website, on emails and invoices. And if you win then start describing yourself as an award-winning business! It’s an important way to show that you stand out from your competitors.