Accountants and businesses generally stand a better chance of winning awards than you might think.
The advice below comes from Mark Lee, who co-presented a session on this topic in the ACCA theatre at Accountex 2016.
One of the winners at the British Accountancy Awards 2015 was a small accountancy practice known as The Tax Guys. It is run by Jonathan Amponsah FCCA.
I was delighted to be present the night Jonathan’s firm won this award as I knew how hard he had worked for it – after being shortlisted the previous year. His office in Putney has a display stand for the various awards the firm has won and certificates adorn the walls. This clearly impresses visitors and the firm’s ‘award winning’ status evidences a degree of credibility such that the firm stands out from their competitors.
This is but one reason for entering awards. There are others. And it’s not as hard to secure business benefits from entering awards as you might think. Let’s dispel a common misconception before we go any further.
How many firms do you need to beat to win an award? All the firms in the country? All those in your city? All those in your local area? Or simply those who have entered the competition?
Rarely do more than 10-20 firms submit entries for a specific award. Not all of these will be valid entries as not everyone reads the entry criteria properly. Of the valid ones some will contain poor English, and some will fail to provide sufficient evidence of all of their assertions. Quite often each well worded and complete entry is only really competing with a few other similarly appropriate entries. Most of these will then be shortlisted and that, in itself, is worth celebrating. Winning, if it happens, is just the icing on the cake.
Only worthy entries can win but the fact is most people don’t bother trying. In which case they can never win, of course.
My five headline tips for submitting a worthy entry are largely common sense but experience shows they are all points worth stressing:
Check that you satisfy the basic criteria for the awards you enter, re location, size of business and being sufficiently new or mature.
Submit an entry that complies with all of the specified guidelines and limitations.
Give the judges what they are looking for and make it easy for them to see your entry as appropriate to shortlist or even to win the award. Treat the exercise in the same way as you would an exam question.
Collate all key data and material to support your entry – whether you need to summarise this or simply attach it to your entry.
Before you submit your entry, allow time for someone else to read, review and proof it. Too many entries fail due to poor English, grammar or typos.
As a frequent judge for accountancy related awards I am keen to raise the quality and quantity of entries. I hope that this brief summary inspires you to give it a go. Take a look at the various accountancy award competitions and also local and national business award competitions. Maybe you can enter those too.
Please don’t be disappointed if you miss out first time. Take a step back and give your entry an objective review. Your next one will be even better. And then when you are shortlisted there are many different ways in which you could benefit from this. I have a list of 20 so far. And many are equally applicable even if you don’t get any further than the shortlist.
At the end of Mark’s presentations in the ACCA theatre at Accountex 2016 he referenced two free checklists.
Mark Lee FCA works with sole practitioners who want to be remembered, referred and recommended. He can be reached via his website: www.bookmarklee.co.uk which contains various free resources for accountants.
Mark co-presented alongside Kevin Reed, editor of AccountancyAge. Read Kevin's thoughts now and find out how to enter the British Accountancy Awards 2016.