By Elaine Clark Run your business The value of professional recognition and how it can help your business grow 7 Jul 2015 The closing date for nominations in the British Accountancy Awards is fast approaching. Last year we were the very proud winners of the On Line Accounting award. Here I explore my experiences of the awards and the value that it can bring to your business or career. Value of entering As well as the fabulous recognition of your achievements by the esteemed panel of judges, winning an award demonstrates your success to your peer group as well as both current and potential future clients. The award makes you stand out in this very crowded accountancy marketplace. The key is to make the most of award by showing it on your website (you’ll get a logo to display), on marketing material, in your signature links, on your social media channels and in a series of press releases and blogs. Of course, it’s not just about winning; if you are shortlisted this too should be celebrated with equal aplomb. So don’t forget to shout about your progress each step of the way. We’ve certainly noticed a significant stepped change in our business since winning the Award. In April to June 2015 our new client enquiries were up by 45% on the same period in 2014. In addition we’ve found that vendors want to engage more readily with us and there’s been a marked increase in our media coverage. All of this is fantastic news for both our current and future franchisees. Blowing your own trumpet Although it can be difficult to blow your own trumpet and shout about your success, this really is the place where you have to do just that. It may seem daunting at first to write about your achievements. My advice would be to start by writing down all of the things that make you proud of your accountancy business, why you think you are different to other firms, what makes you stand out against the competition and why clients come to you. Don’t fall into the trap of regurgitating the usual platitudes spouted out by some firms like “we’re proactive” or “we care about the client”. The judges are looking for something unique or extraordinary; something that you’ve achieved that no one else has. Although you may wish to get help from someone else to complete the awards submission, the wording needs to be owned by you. Have fun If you are fortunate enough to attend, do remember to enjoy it. It’s a great night out and an opportunity to mix with your peers, get dressed up and have a few drinks. The evening is just like the Oscars and if you are lucky enough to win you get to make your way up to the stage where you’ll be presented with your award. In my case the writer, comedian, actress, politician and producer Sandi Toksvig did just that. Receiving the award was a real buzz and a little pat on the back for all of the hard work. For me, winning the award was a real career highlight and it takes pride of place on my mantelpiece. I’d really urge others to enter the British Accountancy Awards this year; be proud to stand up and be judged against your peer group. How the awards work Although there are seven award categories for the top 50 firms, the British Accountancy Awards are not just for the big accountancy firms. There are regional awards for independent firms as well as categories for the Accountancy Practice Start-Up Award, Online Innovation of the Year and Online Practice of the Year. So if you run a small practice or are a sole practitioner there should be a category for you to enter. The categories can be found here. My message would be not to assume that only larger practices win. The judges, who usually come from a variety of backgrounds in the accountancy and tax space, will see the entries without the name of the firm and their decision is based solely on the information contained in the entry submission. Once you’ve decided on the category that you’d like to enter, the format of your submission is prescriptive and entries are submitted online via the British Accountancy Awards portal. As well as providing a very short profile of your business for PR purposes, your award submission will usually need to contain information on profitability, growth, integration, innovation and measurable success. Nominations for the British Accountancy Awards close Friday 17th July 2015. Read more details here. Have you won an award? Tell us about your experience in the comments below. Elaine Clark is the Managing Director of CheapAccounting.co.uk.