Entry Deadline








Entries to the 2020/21 Rural Business Awards are now officially open!

Please use the resources on this page to help you with your decision to enter the Rural Business Awards. As you choose your category and write your entry, we recommend reading our entry guidelines, as in addition to descriptions of all of our awards, they include the judging criteria for each category. While it is not necessary to meet every criteria for an award, we recommend covering as many of them as possible in your entry.

Please note that for 2020/21 we have decided to impose a limit on the number of categories each business can enter – no more than two. This excludes the Triumph Over Adversity award and our new Sustainability and Environmental Impact Award – unlike our other eleven categories, you cannot create an entry for these awards. Instead, all the entries will be judged based on optional questions pertaining to these awards. You can find out more about them in the menu above.

If you have any questions, please use the contact form at the bottom of the page to get in touch with us.

Why Should You Enter?

There are so many reasons to enter the Rural Business Awards, one of the biggest celebrations of rural business in the UK! 

Entering the Rural Business Awards can have a real impact on your business. Most importantly, if you are so lucky as win an award, you will receive regional and national recognition, strengthening the reputation of your business.

Being a part of the RBAs enables you to access media and press opportunities, which will lead to new customers and better brand awareness. As a direct result of entering the RBAs, past finalists have given radio and TV interviews, and been featured in regional and national papers.

Additionally, the RBAs are an opportunity to network with other rural businesses and our sponsors, giving you the chance to share rural-specific challenges and best practices.

Taking part in the Rural Business Awards is a chance to celebrate everything you have achieved so far, and to build the tools for even greater success!

“Since announcing we were finalists for the 2018 awards, we have secured a range of new business and a lot of media coverage. Entering the awards has raised our profile and with it our bank balance too. I would encourage any other rural business to get involved in the Rural Business Awards, because you just never know what might happen!”

Sue Harbottle-Sear, Konzepts

A double finalist in the 2018/19 South East Awards.

The 2020/21 Categories:

  1. Best Rural Start Up Business
  2. Best Rural Diversification Project
  3. Best Rural Retail Business
  4. Best Rural Professional Services Business
  5. Best Rural Creative or Artisan Business
  6. Best Rural Social Enterprise, Charity or Community Project
  7. Best Rural Tourism Business
  8. Best Rural Recreational or Outdoor Pursuits Business
  9. Best Rural Food Business
  10. Best Rural Drink Business
  11. Best Rural Innovation
  12. The Triumph Over Adversity Award
  13. The Sustainability and Environmental Impact Award

How to Enter:

Click on the button below to start your online entry. Entries are open until 16th October 2020. There is no charge for entry.

Entry Guidelines

Please download our entry guidelines below for more information about entering the RBAs, including category specific judging criteria.


Friday 16th October 2020 – Entries officially close

w/c 2nd November 2020 – Shortlist Judging takes place

w/c 16th November 2020 – National Finalists Shortlist announced

30th November 2020 – Deadline for Finalists to edit entries before national judging

w/c 30th November 2020 – National Judging takes place

Thursday 25th February 2021 – National Final Awards Ceremony

Please note that these dates and deadlines were last updated 21/05/2020 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. More detail can be found in our announcement here.

A location and venue for the National Final will be announced later in the year. 

“I am incredibly grateful to Anna and Jemma for all their support through their wonderful Rural Business Awards scheme. They give so many small rural voices the chance to unite as a countryside choir!”

Katrina Rowton-Lee, The Courtyard at Wainhill

2018/19's Best Rural Start Up in the South East

Who Can Enter the RBAs?

To be eligible for a Rural Business Award, you must either be based in a rural location, serve a primarily rural client base, or embrace a rural theme.

We define a rural location as anywhere with a population of less than 10,000 people.

We welcome entries from businesses of all shapes, sizes and ages. Our judging process works so that businesses are judged on their own merits, and a business of just one or two people is just as likely to win as one with lots of employees. It all comes down to what you include in your entry.

If your business hasn’t been operating for very long, we also have the Best Rural Start Up category, which only accepts entries from businesses who began trading within the last three years. 

If you would like to see some of the businesses who have won in previous years, take a look at our Hall of Fame.

The RBA Regions

Please use the map below to carefully check which RBA region you should enter:

How are the Entries Judged?

Here at the RBAs we have a lengthy and detailed judging process. Entrants are awarded points in 17 different categories, by at least 5 different judges. Then we take an average to determine the final score. There are a total of 20 marks available for each category.

There are two rounds of judging. The judging process is basically the same for both the Shortlisting and National Final rounds. First the Judges consider all the entries, and score them. From those scores we announce the entries with the highest average scores in each category as finalists. Then a different set of judges will score the finalists, looking a little deeper and more critically into their entries. The results of this round of judging are kept even from the judges themselves until the Awards ceremony.

Entries to the Rural Business Awards are judged by a panel of external judges, which means that the RBA team are free to help you as much as you need, as we have no impact on the final scores. The judges are always industry leaders, experts either in the business world, the rural sector, or both! Each year we draw a pool of judges from our supporters and sponsors, and a few past winners. In previous years, the judges have included representatives from the Federation of Small Businesses, the Institute of Family Business, Harper Adams University, and the CLA, to name a few!

This all means that the RBAs aren’t a popularity contest, or only looking for the biggest bottom line. Our judging process looks at businesses holistically. It considers an entrant’s history, ethics, rural credentials, branding, customer service, and individuality. We choose judges whose opinions we respect, and hope you do too. We want our entrants to feel that a Rural Business Award really means something, and that our winners are proud of their achievement.

Still have questions? Read one of our blogs, full of helpful entry tips:

Our Top Entry Tips!

Our Top Entry Tips!

With the 2020 Rural Business Awards entry deadline fast approaching on Friday 16th October, we've compiled our top tips to help you write an award winning entry! You can also watch our 'Top Entry Tips 2020' video over on YouTube here. No. 1: Don’t forget the basics. ...

Or, get in touch with the RBA office. Type your question below:

Sign up for our newsletter

Find out about the latest Awards news and exclusive offers.

You have Successfully Subscribed!