As the deadline for the Cornwall Business Awards is fast approaching, we spoke to some of the judges to hear what they will be looking for in the entries and what their top tips for applying are.
This year, we have recruited brand new judges from across leading businesses in Cornwall and the business community. The new set of judges will bring their experience of winning national awards, leading global businesses and working with hundreds of local small businesses to assess our entries.
Hannah Finch, the Business Editor from the Western Morning News, highlighted the importance of demonstrating the passion and determination that prompted you to start the company.
“The most important thing is confidence and integrity. If you can convey to the judges the passion and enthusiasm that compelled you to start the business in the first place, that will lift your nomination off the page.”
She went on to say that, “These awards are about celebrating the achievements of those brilliant, creative businesses in Cornwall, leading the way in traditional sectors like tourism, food and drink and also carving a new identity for the county in the digital and tech industries. It’s not easy to start-up a business and keep it going in these changing times, but if ever there was an incentive to do so, then living and working in Cornwall must be it.”
Peter Beaven, Deputy Regional Director for Small Business, HSBC South West & Wales, shared his top five tips and posed some very important questions to consider before making an application.
Who are you?
Your brand may have been around for some time but when putting together your awards entry assume this is the judge’s first encounter. Go back to basics, represent your brand values, core service model and introduce your brand with the justice you would for yourself at an interview.
What’s your story?
Given the brand exposure opportunity it is well worth considering how you will best present the win to the wider world. Identify your angle and make this a differentiator in your entry. After all there will be many entries to sift through and you want to make sure yours stands out from the crowd.
The judges expect you to be evolving, every business must do that. If you have identified a gap in the market, show how you have effectively achieved this, upskilled the workforce and importantly increased profitability or productivity.
Know your numbers
Once you have your introduction, angle and positioning sorted ensure some solid statistics are displayed to evidence your story. Front line sales, profit margins and overall revenue are some of the key areas for consideration.
Keep presentation and criteria front of mind
Firstly, if you are taking your time to submit an entry, take your time to review for typing errors and correct if necessary. Secondly, don’t risk your reputation with a rushed job. The judges are high profile business professionals and industry experts, they will expect to see a well-presented entry that clearly meets the criteria and provides concise rationale.
When we spoke with Ann Vandermeulen, Cornwall Development Manager for the Federation of Small Businesses she highlighted the importance of businesses that are looking to the future and able to adapt and evolve and change.
On being selected to be a judge
“I am delighted to have been asked to be a judge for the awards. We have so many excellent, vibrant businesses in Cornwall so I’m really looking forward to making some very difficult choices.”
“I am going to be looking for those businesses who are really thinking about what they bring to their particular market that is unique and how they fill a gap in ways that nobody else has thought of. I’m also looking for businesses that look to the future and have a vision for their product or service to be able to evolve and withstand changing and challenging economic climates.”
We are delighted to see a high level of interest in the awards already and with just one week to go, you still have time to apply. This year, we’ve introduced a number of new categories including Exporter of the Year, Product of the Year and Circular Economy Award. There is also an opportunity to win a £10,000 marketing package with Pirate FM and an award for Business of the Year, which will be a public vote that closes on the Awards night itself.