Earlier this week we were asked a question by a client, a question which is actually posed on a fairly regular basis;
“When is a Start-up considered to be too young to enter for a Start-up award?”
In order to answer the question, we should look firstly at the definition of a Start-up. There are many variations out there but the gist of most is very similar and this one from Wikipedia, we think, is a good representation:
Regardless of the specific definition you choose, there is more said about set up of the business rather than the time for which it has existed. Therefore, provided that the company is in the first stages of its operation, you can consider yourself a Start-up. However, different awards and award categories do have different criteria so please check before spending time completing your award entry. We have seen some class a Start-up as any business that’s been running for less than three years and others which class a Start-up as a business running for less than 18 months.
In our opinion a great place to start is by looking at the vision for the future, a future which will most probably involve growth. Entrepreneurship refers to all new businesses, including self-employment and those who never plan to become registered, but Start-ups are new businesses that intend to expand beyond the solo founder, have employees and genuinely want to grow considerably over time.
When it comes to awards, the two main ones to which Start-ups are naturally drawn are the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Start-up Business of the Year and the Institute of Directors (IoD) Director of the Year, Start-up – but there are many, many more out there!
The FSB award category states;
“This award is open to start-up businesses operating for under two years in any business sector. Judges will be looking for businesses that have identified and exploited a market opportunity while building a solid foundation upon which their business can thrive.”
The IoD category similarly states;
“This award celebrates founders/co-founders of the UK’s most promising start-ups. Focusing on the market opportunity identified, the model to capitalise on it, and how it has been executed within the first three years of trading.”
Please note that few, if any, categories specify a minimum time that the business has to have been in operation.
In practical terms we’d say that it would be difficult (but certainly not impossible) to have all the information needed for an award entry with anything less than four months of trading under your belt. We have, however, written a pre-start up nomination for a client and that was Highly Commended in the East Midlands IoD Director of the Year awards a few years back – so nothing is impossible! For examples like this we would always talk to the organising body and run the potential application past them before completing it though so no time was ever wasted.
As always, at The Awards People we think it’s all about the story and this will determine the strength of the award entry. As a guide, for Start-ups there should be a focus on important details such as;
- The research you undertook into your market, demand, competition etc.
- The foundations you built before launch, including systems, contingencies etc.
- The actual launch itself and how you promoted your arrival into the market
- The plans you have put in place for future growth
Of course, should you be successful in winning your award of choice (or even be chosen as a finalist) then you may have to amend your future plans slightly. An award win is one of the most effective ways to raise profile and you may just find that you are propelled to a level of popularity which you had expected to reach after many months (perhaps even years) of trading.
There really are few opportunities quite like it to tell the world about what you do and how great you are at doing it. For this reason alone we’d certainly recommend entering Start-up awards to every new business venture we meet – and we’d be telling them to get their entry in as soon as possible, wasting no time at all!
To speak to us about starting your own awards journey contact Rach via firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll give you the information and inspiration you need to shine!