From the March 2005 issue of Entrepreneur

There are many local, regional and national awards available for female entrepreneurs. So how do you get nominated, and what can winning these awards do for your business? Many national women's business awards start at the local level, most often through established local chapters of national women's business organizations such as the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and the National Association for Female Executives (NAFE). Joining organizations is a surefire way to gain access to well-established annual awards.

Other awards focus on local entrepreneurs and are hosted by organizations such as chambers of commerce. There are also exclusively national awards, like Oxygen TV network's " Oh! Get the Money " $25,000 small-business grants. Applications may be available online or directly through sponsoring companies or organizations.

Being involved with your community through business-related organizations could lead to a win. "I've been nominated by women business owners I worked with on a number of committees, causes and issues," says Sandy Abalos, 47, managing partner of Phoenix-based Abalos & Associates, P.C. , a CPA firm with revenues exceeding $1 million. She received the Arizona Woman Business Owner of the Year award presented by NAWBO in 2002.

Although she says she doesn't seek out nominations or awards, Abalos admits there are benefits to receiving them. "The awards have provided publicity on both a local and national level, which provides name recognition, acknowledgment and credibility. The awards are one way to distinguish my business from others."

Awards as Tools

Adrian Guglielmo, 44, founder of Brewster, New York-based Diversity Partners , which teaches Fortune 1000 companies how to market to the disabled community, believes awards are a way to market her own company. She makes sure her $5 million company fits award criteria, then often nominates herself or her business.

In 2004, Guglielmo was given the NAWBO/Wells Fargo Trailblazer Award for Marketing Person of the Year. The award included $5,000 cash, which she put toward purchasing a wheelchair for one of her employees. The real coup, however, was a short film about her company that Wells Fargo produced on behalf of NAWBO for its awards ceremony.

"They put a lot of money into that film," says Guglielmo. "I use it in all my marketing materials now." She featured some of her clients in the film to leverage the opportunity, and the film helped her land a contract with a major cosmetics company.

"Think of awards as tools to market your company and to keep your clients happy," Guglielmo advises. "Don't take all the credit. Bring your clients exposure as well."

Some Choice Awards:

  • Athena Award : Promotes women's leadership and honors outstanding leaders.