Small Business Contests Produce a Smile (and) Money

According to the SBA, small businesses will create anywhere between 70 and 90% of jobs for Americans this year. Businesses that grow rapidly are able to make a big impact on their communities- by attracting employees, giving back to the community, and creating an environment of innovation and creativity. If your business is one of the millions that’s helping jump start the economy, it’s time you were recognized for your efforts.

Business awards aren’t just great publicity- they also provide your company with the recognition that can lead to better recruiting, sales growth, and increased investment and business-to-business relationships. Contest season 2009 is fast coming to a close- here are some of the best business awards that are still up for grabs:

INC 500/5000 Award Inc. Magazine wants to put your business on the map- they’re searching for the 5,000 fastest growing businesses, or those started prior to 2005 who have managed to increase revenues to at least $2 million by 2008. Who says a business can’t grow during a recession? The 500/5000 contest rewards businesses with an invitation to a nationally recognized business conference, and features selected companies in future magazine and website stories. Businesses that have won the award in the past cite community recognition as one of the main benefits of winning- you get the chance to gain valuable visibility for your company and your community. Check out the website here for more details.

Deadline: May 22

Entrepreneur Magazine Small Business Contest: The Entrepreneur contest is open to applicants with over $500,000 in sales for 2008. The contest website features applicant company profiles, so all businesses that enter are able to gain exposure. Winners will be profiled in a future issue of Entrepreneur Magazine.

Deadline: June 15

Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year: International Accounting and Consulting firm Ernst and Young considers business owners across several different industry categories for this prestigious, internationally recognized award. See the 2009 contest rules for more details.

Deadline: June

Make Mine a Million $ Business: What do you get when you mix a contest with a race that keeps track of your progress? The M3 race, sponsored by Count Me In, is a contest to see who can meet the $1 million mark first- while progress is tracked online. The contest is open to women owned businesses across 15 categories. Entrants in past years- even those that don’t hit the $1 million mark- usually see sales growth of at least 40% over the course of the contest. The prize package includes a $100,000 cash award and a gift basket of free professional services. Don’t have the time or the sales volume needed to qualify for one of the big contests? No worries- the What Works for Business contest application is simple and quick, asking business owners to write about a challenge they’ve overcome. All business owners, even those just starting out, should have something to say about this topic! The challenge can be as simple as finding a web designer or as complex as designing your own online marketing strategy. Winners are named monthly, and receive a prize package that includes free and discounted offers for business services. Just starting out? This is the contest for you if your business is barely off the ground. Ideablob presents your business idea to its online users, who vote on the winner each month. The $10,000 award amount can be spent on anything you need to make your business idea a reality. Most winners choose to purchase inventory, equipment (such as a credit card terminal) or business software.

*Note from Kara: Also, the 2009 Dell Small Business Excellence Award program is in progress now. We will be sharing the finalists from each region in the coming months here on the blog.

About the Author: Betsy Brottlund