The countdown is on to enter the Times Business Awards by the end of this month, when the judges will weigh up the merits of companies and individuals across ten different categories.
The deadline for this year’s entries is 11.59pm on February 20 – allowing enough time for the five judges to go through all of the entries and publish their shortlist by March 15. The gala awards ceremony is on March 30.
Visit timesbusinessawards.co.uk to find your category or categories and download a form to complete offline at your leisure.
There are two new awards for 2023.
The Green Business category will recognise companies for their commitment to the environment, whether through reducing energy usage, localising their supply chains or any other green initiatives.
In the Charity of the Year award, we will be honouring the charities and not-for-profit organisations which play such a positive role in the life of our area. Judges will look for impact, sustainability and imagination.
The Business Award categories are designed to serve businesses big and small, with separate categories for 1-25 employees and 26+ employees.
Entrepreneurial spirit is also acknowledged, with two separate categories for Start-Up Business of the Year and Entrepreneur of the Year.
Other awards celebrate the strengths of the local economy, from family-oriented and creative companies to the food and drink sector.
The awards culminate with the Outstanding Business of the Year.
Although sponsors do not have any say in the judging, they do have an active interest in their chosen category. For example, property management company Integra is sponsoring the Creative Business of the Year award.
Integra’s Chief Operating Officer Michael Puszyk told the Times that his company ‘relied on creatives and he wanted to see their contribution to local business recognised’.
Having been around since 2005, Integra was very sensitive to the choice of visual, PR and marketing services available locally, he added.
“We have seen a marked growth in the creative services in Tunbridge Wells and the surrounding areas over the past decade.
“We work closely with our creative partners to engage with our clients through social and digital platforms, so this category is very close to our hearts.”
He also urged the judges in the creative category to think about the eventual winner’s clients.
“We look to be an innovative and creative leader within the property management community, and a particular interest for us would be a business that is in the vanguard of the creative marketing industry, raising standards and ideas.
“We are very much inspired by all things creative, so we are delighted and excited to be sponsoring this year’s award.”
Meanwhile, Lexus Tunbridge Wells, last year’s headline sponsor, is supporting the Charity of the Year award – new for this year.
This category is intended to allow charities and not-for-profit organisations to spread the word about their work, as well as explaining what they are doing to ensure their positive impact is financially sustainable.
Meanwhile, local wealth management firm Brewin Dolphin is to sponsor the drinks reception before the Times Business Awards on March 30, where guests will have the chance to network, after which they will sit down at their tables with colleagues for the gala dinner.
THE most frequently asked question from prospective entrants is about the geographical area that is covered by the Times Business Awards.
Times editor Richard Moore said: “The Awards are a chance to celebrate the ‘cluster’ effect we see in and around the Tunbridge Wells area.
“This is a place in which the private, public and charitable sectors all work together to make this a great place to live, and we want to recognise that.
“You don’t have to be headquartered here, just work in and around the whole borough, or benefit people living and working in this area.
“Just read the Times of Tunbridge Wells, and you will see that even areas as far away as Paddock Wood, or Crowborough – which is part of East Sussex – are a part of our catchment area.”
Another frequent question is whether very small businesses and sole traders have a chance of winning.
Yet these small businesses can be surprisingly big players in the Awards, which is why there is a separate category dedicated to businesses of 1-25 employees.
And there are chances in other categories, too.
Last year’s Resilient Business Award was won by Eridge-based IPT Fitness, whose owners Aimee Stevens and Mase Leuluniu went ahead and entered their gym, nutritional expertise and personal training business.
“We were definitely not expecting to win – we’re so small,” they told the Times at the ceremony last March.
“But we’re so happy with the award – thank you!”
Entering the Times Business Awards is free of charge at timesbusinessawards.co.uk