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The value of entering awards for small business

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Every year, whether they are successful or not, entrants in business awards programs sing the praises of just completing the process. Johanna Baker-Dowdell reflects of a year of commercial self-discovery.

As a public relations consultant, I have often nominated my clients for awards — and even helped them write their award submissions — but I’ve never put myself forward. Until now.

I entered Strawberry Communications in two awards programs in 2009 — the Business Women Connect Central Coast Business Women’s Awards and the Central Coast Business Achiever Awards. I am proud to say Strawberry Communications was a finalist in the Professional Services category of the latter.

In the process of entering and making submissions for these awards, I learnt a lot about myself as a business person and a woman with aspirations. Without being forced to put my goals, achievements and plans for my business into words, I might not have realised how far I have come in the four years I have been a soloist.

As hard as it is to admit, especially to a potential audience of so many, I had to Google myself (does that make me a “Meegler”?) to find out everything I have done. The process jogged my memory and helped me clarify my successes, which include speaking as an expert in social media and small business promotion, contributing to several books, becoming a professional blogger, writing for Flying Solo and publishing my own eBook.

So, even though it took many hours of my time and I wondered several times why I had agreed to enter these awards, here is what I gained from the process:

  • I clarified my short and long-term business and personal goals.
  • I looked back at my achievements over the past four years.
  • I can now explain with conviction why I am worthy of receiving an award.
  • I am very clear on my point of difference from my competitors.
  • I can relate examples of where I, as a business owner, have excelled in customer service, leadership and communication.
  • I have a better understanding of the relationships I have built with clients and the media.
  • I revisited the system I use to retain existing clients and attract new ones.
  • I looked closer at my financial position to see how the business has improved year-on-year.
  • I isolated areas of my business that needed work.
  • I discovered the process is a good excuse to market Strawberry Communications because these awards recognise the value of my business and add credibility to my brand.

So even though Strawberry Communications finished 2009 as a finalist in the Business Achiever Awards, as a business owner I have gained more than any trophy or prize is worth.

Can you say you have the same clarity about these areas in your business? It might be worth spending some time looking at your business goals, unique selling proposition (USP), past achievements and areas in your business that could do with some extra focus. It is a valuable exercise.

Johanna Baker-Dowdell owns writing and public relations business Strawberry Communications and works with SME businesses to provide article writing, newsletters, press releases, blogs, copywriting, editing, media liaison and PR strategy.

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