Entry now open: Your small business could win a prize package worth €50,000 at these annual awards
Major multinationals can often get the lion’s share of the business headlines but it’s small firms that form the backbone of the Irish economy.
Small business provides employment in towns, cities and parishes throughout the country and 98pc of Irish companies have less than 50 employees. The Small Firms Association (SFA) is the voice of small business in Ireland and they are now inviting entries for the upcoming Small Firms Association National Small Business Awards 2020.
For small businesses, this is a chance to have their efforts recognised at a national and international level and to potentially walk away with prizes to the value of €50,000. Entry to the awards is free and entries are open until October 18.
To find out more about what the judges are looking for, we spoke to Sue O’Neill, chair of the SFA and chair of the Small Firms Association National Small Business Awards 2020 judging panel.
Recognising and rewarding small businesses
“The awards are all about recognising and rewarding the achievements of small businesses,” explains Sue.
“There are a lot of challenges for small businesses and this is one way to highlight the great work being done. The SFA is in a position to help these companies, put them out there and shine a light on them and that’s what this awards programme is all about. It’s all about the businesses – promoting and showcasing what they are doing.”
Entrants are not required to be a member of the SFA and any company in the Republic of Ireland with less than 50 employees is eligible to enter. The Emerging New Business Category is also open to businesses that have been in operation for less than two years.
“What we’re looking for in potential winners is a demonstration that they are growing a business in the current climate, that they have a solid base and that they’re tackling challenges that are there.”
The application will ask businesses about their achievements, their vision and their future plans as well as asking them how they will respond to current business challenges like Brexit.
“It’s really all about getting the best out of the business. We’re asking these questions so that they can put their best foot forward so that we in turn can go out and highlight their wonderful businesses.”
What are the benefits for small businesses?
Every finalist will win a prize package to the value of €50,000 but getting involved can also help them to showcase their business to a wider audience and to generate invaluable networking opportunities.
“It can help you to showcase your business both nationally and internationally,” says Sue. “One of the key benefits of being a finalist or even entering is the publicity that surrounds this programme.
“As a finalist, apart from the general PR and media that the SFA do, you also get an interview in a specially-commissioned Irish Independent awards supplement, which gives each company a half page.
“It’s a great way to profile your business. You get promoted in the national broadcast and print media and we get a lot of regional pick up on the awards.”
Each finalist will also receive a strategic management masterclass weekend, participation in the SFA Business Connect event and five complementary tickets to the gala prize giving ceremony in the RDS in March 2020.
In addition to the above, the overall winner will receive a trophy, a year’s free membership of the SFA and a €5,000 bursary to present to the charity of their choice, which will be funded by the 2013 awards winner, Megazyme International.
Being a finalist or a winner in a national awards competition has also helped previous winners when expanding into overseas markets or when seeking financing.
How to enter this year’s awards
Small businesses can enter online on the SFA website. However, businesses can also be nominated for the awards so members of the public can put forward a business whose achievements they think are worthy of an award. Nominated businesses will then be asked to complete an entry form in order to be considered.
Small businesses can enter under the following categories:
• Manufacturing (sponsored by NSAI)
• Food and Drink (sponsored by Bord Bia)
• Services (sponsored by Vodafone)
• Outstanding Small Business (sponsored by One4All)
• Innovator of the Year (sponsored by Permanent TSB)
• Exporter of the Year (sponsored by Enterprise Ireland)
• Workplace Wellbeing (sponsored by DeCare Dental)
• Emerging New Business (sponsored by IEDR)
• Sustainability (sponsored by Strategic Banking Corporation Ireland)
Enter now online on the SFA website. Entries close on October 18, 2019. Companies can be nominated by others but they must then make a full entry online.