The most notable of them was a national award from the British Chambers of Commerce, winning the Innovation Through Technology category presented by Chris Mullan from Dell.
If winning that national award wasn't enough - beating thousands of other companies across the United Kingdom - we then won third place overall winner of winners on the night collecting a £10,000 cash prize and boosting our profile throughout the country.
A spectacular night that couldn't possibly get any better... except it did.... I was also nominated for Young Business Executive of the Year at the opposite end of the country and despite the worst wintry weather in decades, I managed to attend the glitzy awards night and collect my tenth award.
So how did I do it? How do you win award after award and become multi-award winning.
1. Plan ahead
First off, what criteria do you need to fulfil in order to win? Before I even think of entering for an award, I plan way in advance and visit the awards website, looking for the most relevant category and research what they're looking for. I then look-up the previous winners and see what the judges had to say about them, why were they picked, what was their story, what were the key achievements.
This gives me a framework to work towards, allowing me to then go above and beyond and ensure I would stand out if I entered that category.
2. Interview previous winners
LinkedIn is a great place to reach out to past winners and congratulate them, but to also find out about the entry process and to gather any tips. What were the judges looking for? Why do they think they were picked out of all the other notably entrants? What would they do differently next time? What advice do they have?
3. Stand out from the crowd
It's not enough to hope you or your company as it stands will win. Whatever you're doing now, it's not enough. The competition will be fierce. Make a plan to achieve major success, you need to be a million times better, push yourself to the limits, because to become number #1 you need to act like number #1.
Research your competitors in the media and see what awards they have won, what did the judges say about them? What did the press have to say? What did they do to win? This gives you an idea of what you need to do to beat them.
5. Become a Judge
Very early on, I started putting myself forward to become a judge in local awards, being involved with the local council, schools and newspapers. This gave me a new unique perspective into how the process worked from the other side. What did judges say when they huddled together to deliberate? what was discussed to pick a winner from a close-to-call group of high achievers? what would the winner need to do to win by a whisker?
6. Take them on a journey
It's about writing a compelling story to take the judges on a journey littered with significant achievements. I bet when you first started off in business you had to make some sacrifices along the way, I bet you swam against the tide to get where you are. I bet there were lots of set backs, and I bet if you weaved that into the opening of your story it would set the scene for a true high achieving entrepreneur. Write like you're creating the worlds best action movie with you in the staring role, battling the world and saving the day. Make it nail biting and make it exciting, take the judges on a journey, make them laugh, make them cry and make them want to fight with each other to pick you. Most of all think big and be enthusiastic.
7. Start small
I started off by entering local awards on a small scale, I wanted to test my story writing abilities and see how the process worked. Then one after the other, I refined my story, pushed myself further and entered more notable awards, until finally eight awards later I won a national.
8. The interview
If you've wowed the judges with your block buster movie script, you'll be contacted and put up for nomination. Don't get ahead of yourself, this is just the beginning, this is where the real show starts.... It's all about the small details. Get the names of the judges who will be visiting you, look them up and research their backgrounds. What do they like or dislike, get inside their minds, what will you need to do to impress them.
Treat them like your best customers, place their names on a reserved sign in your company car park, greet with a warm friendly smile, put on your best glad rags, first impressions count. Make them feel special, after all, people like people, and it may come to down this as a final deciding factor.
Do things differently, it's your action movie remember, so sit them down, then stand up and take them through your story, be animated, use strong emotion as you re-live the thrills, lows and highs of your journey. You're up against other very successful entrepreneurs, so what you do now is make-or-break, let them leave thinking WOW.
9. The awards night
After months of preparation, research, intelligence gathering, interviews and story writing, you've finally made it to the awards night. Hopefully you've booked an entire table and treated your staff, friends and family. This is what winning awards are all about, being able to share this special moment with those who've lived the action movie with you.
Your staff will buzz during the weeks before the event and if you are lucky enough to win, in the weeks after. It's the one special time to reflect on your greatest achievements and a moment to pat yourself on the back.
But don't dwell too long as tomorrow marks the start of the next awards journey, what significant achievements do you need to do this time? Double, triple, quadruple?
Live your life every day as if you're going for gold, as if you're entering an award to win the title of Worlds Greatest Entrepreneur.
Author: Darren Williams
Darren has created over five companies in the past 14 years and successfully sold them all despite only being 32 years old. His fifth multi-award winning business ‘Harland Corp’ was one of the fastest growing online hair and beauty companies in the UK winning 16 awards out of 16 including one prestigious national accolade. It attracted over 1 million unique visitors per year between its six ecommerce stores, employed 18 staff, operated from a 7000 Sq Ft warehouse and turned over £1 million per year with a 731% growth rate during one of the worst recessions in living memory. Harland dispatched over 10,000 products each month, with 10% of those being exported to over 37 countries worldwide including Barbados and Afghanistan. He was named as one of the most influential people in the North East in 2011 alongside business legends such as Sir Peter Vardy, Tom Maxfield and Duncan Bannatyne, winning national press coverage along the way.
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