Bring on the Hardware: Business Awards for 2016

As 19th-century psychologist William James famously said, “The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.”

Profit might be a higher priority than flashy business awards for many business mavens. Still, who among us likes to turn down recognition for our skill and hard work? At best, awards boost egos and spur us toward further achievement. At a minimum, it tends to produce a shiny piece of hardware and a new title to tout on your website.

Research points to more tangible results. Corporate award winners enjoyed 37 percent greater sales growth and 44 percent higher stock price return than peers, according to a Canadian study by Hendricks & Singhal, which is mentioned by the Best in Biz award program. A similar study by the British Quality Foundation found smaller award-winning companies saw a 63 percent increase in operating income and 39 percent growth in sales compared to non-award winners.

In that spirit, here are some national and regional competitions for small businesses of which you may not be aware:

  • Now taking entries for its sixth annual series, the Best in Biz North America awards program bills itself as the only independent business awards program judged by press members and industry analysts. Companies operating in the U.S. or Canada are eligible in 60 categories, which encompass company, department or team, executive, product and PR/media.
  • Contestants for the Inc. 5000 awards must be independent, privately owned and based in the U.S. The kicker? This year, revenues are required to have grown from $100,000 or more in 2011 to $2 million or more in 2014.
  • The U.S. Small Business Administration Small Business Person of the Year programs pick a winner in every state before a national winner is honored during Small Business Week each May.
  • Each year the National Small Business Association honors five small business owners via the Lewis A. Shattuck Small Business Advocate of the Year Award. Recognition goes to four finalists and one winner who have gone above and beyond in advocating for the small business community, all while they maintain growth and success in their own companies.
  • The Small Business Influencer Awards are sponsored by Small Business Trends magazine and media company Small Biz Technology. The series, which is preparing for its sixth year, honors companies, organizations, vendors, apps and people who have made a significant impact in the North American small business market.
  • Black Enterprise Magazine has sponsored the five-category Black Enterprise Small Business Awards since 1997, recognizing companies and African-American individuals who are “bringing new products to the forefront, redefining sales strategies and discovering new and profitable markets.”
  • Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneurial Winning Woman program is open to women who founded privately held U.S. or Canadian companies fewer than 10 years ago. Revenues must have reached $2 million or more in the last two fiscal years. Winners attend executive leadership training.
  • American City Business Journals, which operates business magazines in 43 markets, stages awards series in multiple metro areas each year. Examples include its Minority Business Leader awards, its Women Who Mean Business awards and its “Forty Under 40” listings of local entrepreneurs younger than 40.

If none of those appeal, consider entering one of the awards programs: The DREAM BIG Awards organized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; the SCORE Awards run by longtime national nonprofit SCORE; the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year competition; the American Business Stevie Awards; or the Indie Awards sponsored by independent business advocate Independent We Stand.

Other than the entry fee, you have little to lose by throwing your hat in the ring.

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