With the deadline for the Cornwall Business Awards just five days away, we spoke to some of the judges to hear what they will be looking for in the entries and what their top tips for applying are.

This year, new judges have been recruited from across leading businesses in Cornwall and the business community. The new set of judges will bring their experience of winning national awards, leading global businesses and working with hundreds of local small businesses to assess our entries.

James Stoddern, CIO/technical director, Fluid Branding, shared his top five tips and posed some very important questions to consider before making an application.

Who are you?

Your brand may have been around for some time but when putting together your awards entry assume this is the judge’s first encounter. Go back to basics, represent your brand values, core service model and introduce your brand with the justice you would for yourself at an interview.

What’s your story?

Given the brand exposure opportunity it is well worth considering how you will best present the win to the wider world. Identify your angle and make this a differentiator in your entry. After all there will be many entries to sift through and you want to make sure yours stands out from the crowd.

Be relevant

The judges expect you to be evolving, every business must do that. If you have identified a gap in the market, show how you have effectively achieved this, upskilled the workforce and importantly increased profitability or productivity.

Know your numbers

Once you have your introduction, angle and positioning sorted ensure some solid statistics are displayed to evidence your story. Front line sales, profit margins and overall revenue are some of the key areas for consideration.

Keep presentation and criteria front of mind

Firstly, if you are taking your time to submit an entry, take your time to review for typing errors and correct if necessary. Secondly, don’t risk your reputation with a rushed job. The judges are high profile business professionals and industry experts, they will expect to see a well-presented entry that clearly meets the criteria and provides concise rationale.

Layla Burrows, south west regional manager for Innovate UK, highlighted the importance of demonstrating the passion and determination that prompted you to launch the company.

“If you can convey to the judges the passion and enthusiasm that compelled you to start the business in the first place, that will lift your nomination off the page.”

She went on to say that “These awards are about celebrating the achievements of those brilliant, creative businesses in Cornwall, carving a new identity for the county in the digital and tech industries and the green and blue economy. It’s not easy to start up a business and keep it going in these challenging times, but Cornwall provides one of the best locations to succeed!”

When we spoke with Ann Vandermeulen, Cornwall development manager for the Federation of Small Businesses she highlighted the importance of businesses that are looking to the future and able to adapt and evolve and change.

On being selected to be a judge

“I am delighted to have been asked to be a judge for the awards. We have so many excellent, vibrant businesses in Cornwall so I’m really looking forward to making some very difficult choices.”

Top Tips

“I am going to be looking for those businesses who are really thinking about what they bring to their particular market that is unique and how they fill a gap in ways that nobody else has thought of. I’m also looking for businesses that look to the future and have a vision for their product or service to be able to evolve and withstand changing and challenging economic climates.”

Kirsty Miles-Musgrave, hub operations manager, added: “We are delighted to see a high level of interest in the awards already and with just five days to go, you still have time to apply. This year, we’ve introduced a number of new categories including Exporter of the Year, Business Finance and Employee of the Year.  There is also an opportunity for all finalists to be crowned People’s Choice, which will be a public vote that closes on the awards night itself.”

The Awards are completely free to enter, and businesses should register on the Cornwall Business Awards website. Deadline for entering is midnight, March 28.

The Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Growth Hub and Skills Hub are part funded by the European Structural & Investment Funds and match funded by Cornwall Council, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership.

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