One of the best ways to raise profile and gain credibility is to enter awards. Good news for small businesses - and their advisers - is that there are a good number to enter!
The entry process is informative in its own right; application forms ask you to outline how far you've come and where you are going. Writing this down can be a useful way to recognise past achievements and confirm, in your own mind, the direction in which you are heading.
Here are five awards open for entries now and appealing to all types of business, whether you've just started out or been trading for years - and whether your trade is craft, code or consulting. They are all free to enter.
National Business Awards: The Duke of York New Entrepreneur of the Year
The National Business Awards are in their 13th year and have become the most prestigious awards to celebrate big companies and proven entrepreneurs. Supported by The Duke of York, a new category in 2014 is The New Entrepreneur of the Year Award:
"Open to any first business founder that has been trading for 18 months or less on 1st April 2014, this Award recognises those demonstrating the entrepreneurial aptitude, commercial acumen, vision, ambition and drive to build a successful enterprise."
The ten highest scoring entrants will be invited to a live judging event in Liverpool on 24th June where you will pitch for 3 minutes. The judging panel will select five finalists and the overall winner chosen by a combination of judges' scores and public vote building up to a highlight Awards ceremony on 11th November in London.
The Mollie Makes Handmade Awards
A new entrant to the Awards scene, this is focused on UK designer makers turning their hobbies into a business, and overseen by Mollie Makes which is the UK's number one contemporary handmade title.
There are five categories including The Youth Award, The StartUp Award and Established Businss Award. Closing date for entries is May 25 and awards hosted on June 11 2014. Judges include representatives from Etsy, John Lewis, Crafty Fox Market, The Guardian - and me!
UK's Top 50 Advisers
Brought to you by Enterprise Nation, this is an award to recognise and reward those advising small businesses. We want to celebrate the hard-working advisers behind the growing businesses of Great Britain and we've been fortunate to meet many of them as part of the Enterprise Nation Marketplace.
To take part, business advisers need to be either nominated by those they have helped, or nominate themselves giving evidence and testimonials.
Entries will be judged by a distinguished panel including Clive Lewis (ICAEW), Gavin Dollin (Department for Business, Industry and Skills), Anna Thomlinson (StartUp Loans) and James Layfield (entrepreneur & CEO of Central Working).
The Top 50 advisers will be announced in January 2015 with prizes contributed from Enterprise Nation Marketplace sponsors, which will include technology, hardware, office space and sales coaching.
Now in its 6th year, The Pitch is a successful awards programme from Business Zone. To enter you should have been trading for less than 3 years. You pick a category, complete an online form and, The Pitch suggests, submit a brief video too.
A shortlisted group of 100 entrants will be invited to a Pitch bootcamp in September. Following bootcamp, you submit a second application so Judges can hone 100 to 30 finalists who will be asked to compete in a final live Pitch in Bristol in October.
From there, the champion and overall winner will be crowned!
Deadline date for entries is 13 July.
Techpreneurs - Women in Tech
Only open to the ladies, this award is to inspire and encourage women to get involved in tech-related start-ups and open to women who are either already involved in a tech-related start-up or in the process of launching one.
The application deadline is May 10 with "¨Awards Ceremony on June 26. Winners receive a case of champagne and two dinners with a mentor from the panel of judges.
Get applying - and good luck!
Emma Jones (@emmaljones) is a business expert and author - and founder of Enterprise Nation