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With only a couple of weeks left until entries officially close, we’re going to take a look at how to put together an entry worthy of a Rural Business Award.

 

Start at the very beginning

It’s always tricky to know where to start. If you are anything like me, it’ll take you twice as long to write the first paragraph of your answers that the rest of your entire entry! A good place to start is, well, the start! Why does your business do what it does? What is the motivation behind it, and how did it all begin?

Think of your entry as telling a story, with a beginning, middle, and end! How did the business come about, where are you now, and where do you want to be in the future? What challenges have you overcome, and are there any stand out successes to shout about?

Telling the story of your business is a really good way to convey your business’s personality, and to capture the judge’s attention. However, you do need to balance this with the “nuts and bolts” business elements like financial information and strategy.

 

Take a step back

It can quite a daunting prospect putting together an entry. For the majority of the time, you experience your business close up. You are embedded in the day-to-day of producing and selling your products or services, and you rarely take a moment to consider your business as a whole. This is one of the surprising benefits of entering the RBAs, you have a reason to get some perspective, to take a step back, and realise what you have achieved and where you want to go next!

Our judges don’t know anything about your business, so remember that what you include in your entry is all they will see. Explain your business as you would to a new, potential customer.

 

Show off your brand

Our entrants often forget to mention their branding, but it’s an important part of any business! You’ve probably spent a decent amount of time developing your brand and how your business appears to customers or clients. Think of the judges as potential customers! You want them to remember your business, so make sure you show off your branding.

We find the best way to demonstrate this is with a short presentation, e.g. PowerPoint, Prezi or video. These can all be uploaded to your entry online (just make sure that any videos are hosted on YouTube or Vimeo). And if you’re not the most computer savvy person – don’t worry! You can always put the information you would use for a presentation in a word document and upload that instead. And don’t forget – we’re here in the office to help with the technical side of uploading and adding documents to your entry – just get in touch.

 

What do your customers think?

Sure, we expect you to think your business is great, but what about everyone else? Talk to your staff, customers or clients – why do they work for you, shop with you, use your services? Ask for a short quote or testimonial, then you can add these to your presentation or entry. It’s another source of information for the judges and can show how your business is impacting on the local community or area.

 

The bottom line

Don’t panic – we are not wanting a full break down of your accounts! The judges are just looking for a brief overview of turnover or profit over a few years if possible. This could be as simple as a table in a word document that you upload to your entry.

And please don’t worry if your profits or turnover aren’t sky high, it’s judged on much more than that – our judges look at the longevity, growth and strategy of your business. This is something we are very proud of in our judging process – it means that small, start up businesses are on the same level as large businesses – it is not down to the amount of money made! The RBAs aren’t a popularity contest, or only looking for the biggest bottom line. Our judging process looks at businesses holistically. We consider an entrant’s history, ethics, rural credentials, branding, customer service, and individuality.

To reassure you, we treat your privacy seriously. All our judges and staff sign non-disclosure agreements and all the information in your entry is treated with the highest confidentiality.

If you need extra incentive, entrants who provided brief financial information scored more highly in the judging last year.

 

Use the entry guidelines

The entry guidelines contain pretty much everything you need to know to create a winning entry, so take advantage of them! They list all the different judging criteria for each category, and we’ve found that entrants who take the time to tailor their entry to their category are much more likely to win.

Our judges last year commented “entrants who had taken the time to answer each criteria point for their category, instead of just supplying generic answers or presentations, were easier to score and scored more highly as a result.”

It doesn’t matter if your business doesn’t meet every single criteria for your category. In fact, few of our finalists last year met all of them! Instead, focus on your business’ strengths and the strands you do meet!

To download your copy of the Entry Guidelines, click here

 

A few more top tips…

You can submit your entry at any time and go back to update, add or edit it as many times as you like before the deadline at the end of May.

Completing your entry early also means that we will have chance to look through it in the office and double check that everything is there. Just get in touch after you’ve submitted if you’d like us to do this for you.

It’s really important that we have some high-resolution photographs to go alongside your entry. Journalists always, always ask us for photos to go alongside articles about our entrants! You may miss out on press and media opportunities if you are shortlisted and we don’t have any quality photos. Full size / high resolution is at least a file size of 1MB and you MUST have permission to use them.

 

Hopefully, this article has helped you to create a winning entry! If you have any more questions about your entry, or the RBAs in general, please get in touch with us on 01163800525 or at office@ruralbusinessawards.co.uk

You could also read these articles on the 5 Most Common Entry Mistakes, or How Our Judging Process Works.

If you want to start an entry, or edit one you already have, click here

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