The Island’s biggest and most prestigious awards are back for 2024….
The Isle of Wight Chamber Business Awards with WightFibre will be presented in May. Will your business be there on the night?
Entries are open now and must be received by January 31st.
For full category listings and details on how to enter, head to https://www.iwchamber.co.uk/awards
Make the most of your entry at the 2024 IW Chamber Business Awards
Top tips on telling your winning story. By Tom Stroud
Whether you’re thinking about entering the IW Chamber Business Awards for the first time, or you’re a business that has been shortlisted before, or even won in the past, here are some hints and tips on how you can make the most of your entry.
I’m not a judge. I never have been and to tell the absolute truth, I don’t know who they are. But I do know what a winning entry looks like. I’ve been producing the awards ceremony for a long time now, and I’m pretty familiar with what it takes to get shortlisted. I’ve seen exceptional entries that stole their category; I’ve seen hotly contested battles, where the difference between a win and a Highly Commended is the narrowest of margins. I’ve also seen occasions where businesses with a great story to tell didn’t manage to convey their success and fell short of the acclaim they deserved.
In this article, allow me to share what I do know about the awards, the judging process and what makes a compelling entry.
The judges don’t know you
Your entry will be assessed by a panel of business experts, most of whom aren’t based on the Island. Many of them are based outside the UK. They know about business, they know how to read numbers and data, but the chances are they won’t have heard of your business. That’s great, because it means the judging is impartial. Nobody can trade on their reputation and there can’t be any accusations of preferential treatment. But it also means that you have to explain who you are, how your business operates and what makes it distinctive. You can’t assume any prior knowledge of your business. Make sure you tell the judges the things they need to know.
Follow the instructions
The awards entry is process is clearly laid out. You’ll see the questions you need to answer and the points allocated to each section of the entry. Make sure you answer each section and give it the weight it deserves. Incomplete entries won’t be judged; if you don’t answer a question and give the judges what they need, you’re going to lose points. Keep an eye on that word count too.
Think carefully about the category you want
Before you choose the award(s) that you want to go for, make sure that they really are the right ones. Think about 2023 and your successes and achievements. Occasionally we see entries that miss the story. A solid submission for Small Business of the Year might actually have made an exceptional entry for Growth Business of The Year. A Customer Service Award might actually be more reflective of company culture and employee motivation, a story better reflected in the Employer of the Year award. Or vice versa. Make sure you’re telling the right story.
A good story that is told well – back it up, and explain
Make sure you give the judges all the information they need to see you in your absolute best light. Give them the right data; support your claims with evidence. Explain to them why your story is award-winning. Are you better than your peers? Are you outperforming your sector? Qualify everything you include with the context to show the judges why it matters.
You’re as good as your competitors
You’ll be judged and scored in isolation. The panel will take each entry on its merits. And then, your scores will be compared to those of the other entrants. Where you place will be dependent on your entry, but also the strength of the other submissions for that category. Some are more hotly fought than others. We never know until midnight on the final day of the entry period. A significant amount will arrive in the final hours!
It’s all about your entry
Everything that the judges know about your business and your year will be gleaned from your entry. There is no public vote. And as we’ve established, the judges are impartial, but they’re also independent of each other. They don’t compare notes and each category is judged by different people. So sometimes a business wins big, with multiple trophies on the night. But that’s as a result of lots of people reaching the same decision independently.
It’s all about winning…
It’s a competition – and you’re competitive, right? You’re entering for the chance to take one of those glittering statues and all the acclaim that comes with it. They aren’t easily earnt. It can get emotional in that room. We understand that. That’s the point.
… except it isn’t. The rewards are still huge
Winning isn’t everything. Not everyone can take a trophy. And sometimes entries that would have been winners in other years take a Highly Commended because there’s just another slightly stronger entry. These awards are hugely competitive and the shortlist represents a small selection of the entries received.
Being nominated really is a massive success in itself – and the reflection and self-assessment involved in writing an awards entry is hugely valuable. The process of review, marking achievements and measuring your successes across the year is a powerful tool, providing insights that will be applicable across your business.
And finally… the most important piece of advice. Enter.
You really do have to be in it to win it. Get involved and be a part of it. There isn’t “your time” – there’s no correct moment to enter, so don’t wait or be disparaged. By the same token, don’t assume that you really should win your category, just because you’ve had a brilliant year or an anniversary. Sometimes it’s tough and the opposition is incredible. But sometimes big players will take a year out too. We never know who is going to enter in each category. So don’t make any assumptions. Just make sure your entry is received by January 31st!