9 Small Business Awards Your Practice Could Sponsor

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Whether you have been in practice for decades or are just getting off the ground, sponsoring a local business award is a great way to build credibility and generate positive PR.

Businesses that win an award tell customers that they’ve been vetted by a third party and bested other companies to come out on top – no easy feat!


Awards programs run the gamut. Some are free to enter, while others can cost hundreds of dollars per submission. Some have simple entry procedures, and others can rival an Ivy League college application. Still, others are inexpensive to enter but will cost an arm and a leg if you want to buy a certificate, trophy or rights to use their logo.

No matter which model you choose, it’s a good idea to do some research before diving right into the business of awards.

To get you started, here are 9 small business awards program ideas to consider for your practice: Click To Tweet

1. National Small Business Week Awards

The National Small Business Week Awards are organized by the U.S. Small Business Administration and have several categories, including Small Business Person of the Year. Submission deadlines are usually at the end of the first week in January each year. Contact the Small Business Administration representative for your area for information on how you can participate.

2. DREAM BIG Blue Ribbon/Small Business of the Year Award

The DREAM BIG Awards are organized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. There is a national winner, regional finalists and Blue Ribbon honorees around the country. Prizes include $10,000 cash. Submission deadlines are usually at the end of the first week in January each year. Contact your local Chamber of Commerce for information on how you can participate.

3. SCORE Awards

The annual SCORE Awards are organized by SCORE, a non-profit association that has been supporting small businesses across the country for nearly 50 years. Submission deadlines are usaually at the end of the first week in January each year. Contact your local SCORE office for information on how you can participate.

4. Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Recognition for Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year is given on both a national and regional level. Submission deadlines are usually at the end of the first week in January each year.

These folks are direct competitors to you, and make a good model to copy. Be careful about the naming of your award as theirs is trademarked, and they probably will be aggressive in enforcing their trademarks against direct competitors.

5. American Business Stevie Awards

The American Business Stevie Awards feature an impressive array of categories in management, marketing, customer service, human resources, information technology, new product/service and more.

Submission deadlines are usually in March of each year. The Stevie Awards are a paid competition, and may be a good model to emulate if you are looking to either earn income or at least cover the costs of your awards program.

6. Small Business Influencer Awards

The Small Business Influencer Awards are produced by Ramon Ray (founder of smallbiztechnology.com) and Anita Campbell (founder of Small Business Trends), two big names in the small business community. There is a public-voting component. Submission deadlines are usually in July of each year..

This is another good model to emulate. Note that it was developed by two individuals and has achieved national recognition. Your goal may just be to develop recognition in your market, but a quality competition may expand beyond your local market.

7. Indie Awards

The Indie Awards are a part of Independent We Stand, an effort to get consumers to shop locally at independently owned and operated businesses. Submission deadlines are usually in September of each year.

8. Best in Biz Awards

Entries for the Best in Biz Awards are judged by press and industry analysts. There are 60 categories across five focus areas: company, department or team, executive, product, and PR and media. This is another pay to enter program. You may find that a local media outlet might be willing to co-sponsor the competition in order to build relationships with local businesses.

9. Local “Reader’s Choice” Lists

Many regional magazines, newspapers and websites have annual lists where readers can nominate and vote for the area’s best coffee shop, best mechanic, best veterinarian, etc. This is another area where a local media outlet, even if it is a “Free” publication may be willing to cooperate with you in some way. PwC gets major publicity (and some cash) for vote counting at the Academy Awards don’t they?

Did an award win give your business a boost? Think about how sponsoring an award can benefit your practice. Do you think that the folks listed above are giving away awards just because it’s something they want to do? Most are using their awards program to publicize their own organization and build relationships with the entrants and winners. After all, everyone loves a winner, so everyone wants to be one, and they love the folks who make them winners.

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