So, you’ve decided to enter the Rural Business Awards this year (excellent choice by the way), you’ve registered on our online entry platform, and started filling in your entry. Great start!
But now you’re thinking about how to make it the best entry possible, or maybe it’s the first time you’ve done anything like this before? To give you a helping hand we’ve outlined below the main points to consider when completing your entry. We’ll also be sharing some further blogs in the next few weeks about presentations and financials, two items that the judges are always keen to see in entries, so keep an eye out for those too.
If you are a first timer at entering any awards, we’d like to reassure you that we get lots of people in the same position and so you’re not on your own! Plus, as the RBA team aren’t involved in judging, we’re here to help, answer questions or give advice.
1. Let your Rural credentials shine through!
As we are the RURAL Business Awards, it’s really important that your entry demonstrates how you’re a rural business; remember this could be because your business has a rural theme, is based in a rural location or serves a mainly rural customer base (or even a combination). Whichever it is, have a look through your entry and make sure that it is clear how you are rural to someone who doesn’t know your business.
We find that often the hardest one to demonstrate is when a business is based in a rural location, but may not have a rural theme or a particularly rural client base. In these cases, think about how your business being in that location benefits the local rural economy or community. Do you employ local people? Do you have links with other rural businesses locally, helping to boost the rural economy? Do you help to showcase your rural location and educate visitors to the area?
2. Answer each entry question as fully as possible
Try to use as much of the word count as possible for each question – our judges will read through your answers to these before even looking at anything else so make sure they are detailed and clear. If you are hitting the word limit, you can always upload additional information at the end of the entry form.
It’s also important to make sure you don’t repeat information. The judges will read everything that you provide so don’t worry that they might miss things out! Repeating information can sometimes make it seem like care and attention hasn’t been given to the entry.
3. Back up any claims with evidence!
Anyone can say that they are award winning or that they are the best tourist attraction in the UK! If you make a claim, make sure to provide evidence that backs it up. For example, if in your entry you mention that your team delivers exceptional customer service, you could upload some customer testimonials to support this or add a link to your Tripadvisor page. If you have won awards previously – list them!
We know that lots of our entrants support their local communities and charities, when you mention this in your entry make sure that you list some actual examples of what you have done and when. Photos and news articles are also a great way to showcase this.
4. Always add photos to showcase the ‘spirit’ of your business
Judges love to see photos so that they can get a ‘feel’ for the business and they really help to bring an entry to life. But just be sure to pick the ones that best capture the elements of your business that you want to showcase – a carefully curated collection of between 5 to 10 photos is much more effective than a whole heap! Or you could even consider adding a powerpoint presentation which includes photos to make it a more user friendly experience for our judges.
Also, really importantly – please make sure that at least 2 or 3 of your photos are high resolution (at least a file size of 1MB) so that we can use them in print or to share with the media if you are shortlisted!
5. Read the entry criteria for your category
Make sure you download and read our entry guidelines – especially the criteria that are specific to the category that you are entering! You can download the entry guidelines here. This is vital as each category has its own criteria that the judges will be looking for in particular, and to be successful you need to ensure that your entry showcases where you meet them. For example, in the Diversification category, judges will be looking for an explanation of why the decision was made to diversify and why this type of diversification was chosen over others.
You might not meet every single criteria for your category – that’s absolutely fine as not many entrants will do – but to be in with the best chance of winning you really need to highlight in your entry how well you meet the ones that you do fit!
6. Answer the financial information questions!
Every. Single. Year. Our judges will always give the feedback that they need to see more financial information to understand the shape of the business. We understand that some people do not like sharing this type of information, but all of our judges and members of the RBA team sign NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) and we can assure you that all of your entry information is kept confidential.
As a minimum please answer the financial questions on the entry form, including completing the table. Our scoring process ensures that big and small businesses can be fairly judged against each other without finances being a negative factor. Plus, if you have seen a loss for some reason (which we anticipate will be the position of many businesses after the past year), there is space provided for you to explain to the judges so that they can factor this in their scoring.
7. Read back through and check for any errors
We don’t believe in turning your entry process into a similar experience to being back at school! And you will definitely not lose marks for grammar or spelling mistakes, but it’s always a good idea to have a final read through your entry and see if any obvious ones jump out. You could also ask someone else to have a read through and check that it makes sense.
If you wanted, you could also drop us a quick email and we will have a look through and see if anything is missing from your entry. We’re happy to do this – just let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org
8. Make sure you hit ‘Submit’!
Your entry isn’t in the running for an RBA until you’ve submitted it so make sure you hit the ‘Submit’ button before Friday 21st May. You can submit and return as many times as you want before the entry deadline – meaning you can still make those last minute changes or additions.
Enter the Rural Business Awards: www.ruralbusinessawards.co.uk/enter-2021/
Log in to access an entry already started: https://ruralbusiness.awardsplatform.com/
Entries to the 2021/22 Rural Business Awards close on Friday 21st May 2021. To find out more information visit our website: www.ruralbusinessawards.co.uk