The hunt is on for the UK's hottest entrepreneurial and business talent. If you think your small business could win over the judges - Karren Brady, one of the UK's leading business women and Lord Sugar's right-hand woman, small business journalist Guy Clapperton, Nectar marketing director James Frost and John O'Keeffe, merchandising and marketing director for the UK and Ireland at Office Depot - then read on.
The Nectar Business Small Business Awards 2011 are free to enter and there's not just recognition and kudos up for grabs. All category winners will get £2,000 and a massive 50,000 Nectar points.
So, what will the judges be looking for? Here's a closer look at the criteria for each of the five categories, illustrated with a couple of examples from last year's winners.
Small Business of the Year
This one's for any business that has been trading for more than a year and employs no more than 250 people. Your annual turnover must be no greater than £9m.
Entrepreneur(s) of the Year
This category will recognise the individual (or individuals) behind the UK's most promising and innovative small business. Entrants must have assumed the risk, organised and managed their own business and be running a small firm with no more than 250 employees.
Last year's winners were Warren Bennett and David Hathiramani, the duo behind the first online bespoke tailors in the UK - A Suit that Fits. The business model was conceived after Bennett had a number of suits made to order while travelling in Nepal in 2005. On his return to the UK, he and long-term friend Hathiramani had their 'eureka' moment.
Suits are purchased online, fitted in store and tailored in Nepal. There are now 40 billion suit combinations available to order online and the business has grown from a single outlet in Liverpool Street to a network of 25 stores across the UK.
Online Business of the Year
This award is dedicated to firms which can demonstrate how innovative use of the web has boosted sales and grown the business. The percentage of sales coming through the web must be at least 70% and you must submit evidence to demonstrate the number of unique and active users per month, as well as the user value.
Last year's winners, Holly Tucker and Sophie Cornish, founded Not on the High Street (for more information on all of Nectar Business Small Business Awards previous winners please visit www.nectar-business.com) in 2006. The company showcases the wares of thousands of small businesses across the UK on its website, giving tiny retailers who often can't afford a prominent high-street presence national exposure.
The company now employs 43 full-time staff and has more than 1,600 independent small businesses on its site, offering 35,000 products
Contribution to the Community Award
This category is for small businesses or social enterprises whose product or service is sold with the aim of making a positive contribution to the community. Entrants must be able to show how their company does just that. The Contribution to the Community award will be open to public vote at www.nectar-business.com/SBA2011.
Start-up Business of the Year
Brand new businesses will be recognised in this category. To be considered, your start-up will have been trading for no more than a year. You will also need to provide details of your company's mission statement and position in the market.
James Frost, Nectar marketing director, says: "Nectar Business' Small Business Awards 2011 will shine a spotlight on thriving small businesses, entrepreneurs and social enterprises. This is their opportunity to showcase how they've beaten the odds by working hard, identifying gaps in the marketplace and capitalising on imaginative, innovative ideas."
If this sounds like you, log on to [www.nectar-business.com/SBA2011] now to see full awards information and details of how to enter. http://www.nectar.com/business-sba2011/index.rnectar
Closing date for entries: April 30.