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If this is your first time reading about us, the Rural Business Awards are an independent awards programme with a particular focus: the rural sector. We cover six regions, the North, the Midlands, Wales and Northern Ireland, the South West, the South East, and the East. The regional awards are then followed by a national final, where the winners from each region compete to win a national trophy.

The Rural Business Awards are open to any business which operates from a rural base (defined as a settlement of less than 10,000 people), embraces a rural theme, or serves a mainly rural clientele.

With 11 categories, there’s one to fit every kind of business… From brewers to butchers, agricomms to accountants, and farmshops to falconers, each year the RBAs receive an incredibly diverse range of entries, all bound together by their love for rural Britain.

Each year, we want to make the Rural Business Awards better than ever, so we have made some exciting changes to the awards.

 

So what’s new?

 

FREE ENTRY

No, you’re not dreaming, we have decided to make entering the awards completely free for all businesses! Last year, it cost £50 to enter, but we hope that by scrapping the entry fee, we will make the awards more accessible for rural businesses of all shapes and sizes, especially start-ups and micro-businesses.

 

UPDATED ENTRY QUESTIONS

We have changed the questions we ask on our entry form. Last year’s questions were more open ended which meant entrants spent most of their time mulling over what to write. We’ve decided to increase the number of questions but make each one more specific, so that you know exactly what you need to put. Hopefully this should reduce the time it takes to fill out an entry, and ensure each entry is well rounded, with all the information the judges need.

 

AN EXTENDED ENTRY PERIOD

We all lead busy lives and, as much as we tell ourselves we won’t, we leave things right to the last minute. Last year the closing date for entries fell in the middle of May half term, and for many families juggling running a business with occupying their kids makes the thought of sitting down at a computer to submit their entry unimaginable. So, this year entries will close on Friday 7th June 2019.

 

NEW CATEGORIES

We have also reviewed our categories for the awards. We work hard to ensure that the Rural Business Awards are for ALL rural businesses. Year after year we find that some award titles remain harder for businesses to identify with than others, so we have removed several categories, and added new ones to reflect the development of the rural sector.

The Best Rural Food Business and Best Rural Drink Business Awards will be combined as the Best Rural Food & Drink Business Award. The values we look for in each of these kinds of businesses are so similar that it makes more sense to judge them together.

The Best Rural Creative or Media Based Business category has been split into two. Our judges commented that this category was too broad; it is incredibly difficult to judge the businesses of artists against those of web design or marketing agencies. Therefore we now have the Best Rural Creative, Artisan or Crafts Business Award, and the Best Rural Digital, Communications or Media Business Award.

We have decided to end the Best Rural Manufacturing Business and Best Rural Education or Training Business. Both of these categories overlap with some of our others. Businesses who would have entered the education category may be able to enter the professional services, social enterprise or diversification categories. Entrants who would have chosen the manufacturing category, on the other hand, will often fit equally well in the retail, food and drink or creative categories.

Lastly, we have decided to alter the Rural Employee of the Year category. For 2019-20 we will run the Rural Young Person of the Year Award. Young people are the future of the rural sector, and this award aims to celebrate that.

For more information on each of our categories, take a look at our entry guidelines.

 

NUMBERS OF FINALISTS

As there will now only be 11 categories, opposed to the previous 13, we have decided to increase the number of businesses who will be shortlisted in each category. There will now be 6 finalists for each award. This will keep the overall number of finalists more or less the same as last year.

 

THE AWARDS CEREMONIES

Finally, we are in the process of consulting with 2018’s regional finalists to decide on the changes for next year’s regional awards ceremonies. Some found it difficult to attend the events, due to the combination of the ticket price, overnight accommodation, and childcare. We are working on a solution to these issues, with the possible option of moving the regional ceremonies to a lunch event. If you have any feedback on the awards ceremonies you would like to share, please email charlotte@ruralbusinessawards.co.uk

 

So, with all these improvements, there are more reasons than ever to enter the Rural Business Awards. If you own or work for a rural business, consider entering today, just click here to sign up to our awards platform.

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