Small businesses that are overcoming the odds and growing rapidly need to find creative ways to maintain their momentum. Since they usually don’t have big budgets for marketing campaigns, they should take advantage of free publicity whenever possible.
One source of free publicity is small business awards. If you’re enjoying impressive growth, you may qualify for one or more of these national awards for entrepreneurs and small businesses:
Inc. 500/5000 – Started in 1982, the Inc. 500/5000 list showcases small businesses that experience explosive growth over a three-year period. Many big-name companies have climbed this list on their way to the top of their industries. Companies that manage to break into the top 500 of this list get spotlighted in Inc. magazine. Inc. also breaks down its results by industry, location, revenue, company size and other criteria.
Stevie Awards – There are several kinds of Stevie Awards you might be able to qualify for. They include the American Business Awards, International Business Awards, Stevie Awards for Women in Business, and Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service. These awards are fairly new, having launched in 2002, but they are growing in popularity.
Entrepreneur Magazine’s Entrepreneur Awards – Whether you’re an entrepreneur who is established, emerging, or just starting out in a college dorm, you can find an award you qualify for among Entrepreneur Magazine’s Entrepreneur Awards. The company has stopped accepting nominees for the 2010 awards, but there’s always next year.
Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year – Created in 1986, the Entrepreneur of the Year awards recognize business leaders for their ingenuity and hard work in creating successful businesses. Only top executives and company founders can be nominated for this award. Past winners of this award include the founders of Google, Amazon.com, and Starbucks.
Deloitte Technology Fast 500 – This list focuses exclusively on technology companies, so it’s not for everybody. It includes the top 500 fastest-growing tech companies in the United States and Canada, based on their revenue growth over four years.
Intuit’s Love a Local Business Grant – It’s not really an award, per se, but it would be crazy not to mention Intuit’s own series of grants for small businesses, which come with plenty of bragging rights, too. Official rules on applying can be found at the aforementioned link.
These aren’t the only awards you should sign up for. You should also research local awards in your state, county, and city. Many local magazines, industry groups, and Chambers of Commerce offer annual awards you should consider applying for, in addition to these national awards.