Award categories & criteria

Small Business of the year

THE PREMIER CATEGORY WITHIN THE SMALL BUSINESS AWARDS, THIS AWARD IS AIMED AT THE NORTHERN IRELAND-BASED SMALL BUSINESS ENTERPRISE WITH 50 EMPLOYEES OR LESS WHICH, IN THE OPINION OF THE JUDGES, EXEMPLIFIES BEST PRACTICE AND ACHIEVEMENT ACROSS THE BOARD IN TERMS OF BUSINESS PERFORMANCE, MANAGEMENT, CUSTOMER FOCUS AND RESULTS. ENTRIES FOR THIS PREMIER AWARD CATEGORY CAN BE MADE DIRECTLY TO THIS CATEGORY BUT WINNING ENTRIES IN ALL OTHER CATEGORIES WILL ALSO BE CONSIDERED FOR THE TOP AWARD.

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Independent Retailer of the Year

This award will set out to recognise a leading player from Northern Ireland's traditionally strong independently-owned retail sector. The category is open to locally-owned retail businesses, including both single site retailers and independent retail groups who meet the overall Small Business Awards critera, ie 50 employeers or less.

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Healthcare Business of the year

Another specialist category, aimed at small business enterprises in the healthcare field here in Northern Ireland. This category is open to all business-led healthcare related organisations including opticians, dental practices and enterprises such as care homes for the elderly.

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Family Business of the year

A new addition to the line-up for 2018, the Family Business Of The Year category is open to all businesses (less than 50 employees) which remain in family ownership and are based here in Northern Ireland.

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MANUFACTURING Business of the year

A category open to all companies with 50 employees or less engaged directly in the manufacture of products for sale in Northern Ireland and in export markets. The judges will look for evidence of research and development as well as innovation in manufacturing.

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Technology Business of the year

This award is open to all small businesses based in Northern Ireland who provide products and/ or services in the wider technology field, including IT services, software development, technology product innovation and consultancy.

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Customer Focus Award

Our judging panel will single out the local small business which most effectively brings to life best practice in customer service across all of its operations. The judges will look for clear evidence of customer satisfaction.

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Agrifood Business of the year

Northern Ireland's leading small business operating in the agri-food sector, to include food and drink producers, farm-based enterprises and companies providing products and services to the agri-food industry here.

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Innovative Business of the year

Open to companies operating in any business sector, this award will go to the organisation which best illustrates the most effective use of innovation through investment in innovative practices, leading edge products and/or services to contribute to overall business success.

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Small Business Marketing Award

Open to companies in all sectors of the local business community, this award sets out to recognise and showcase the organisation which best uses marketing – including advertising, PR or the strategic use of digital platforms and social media - to enhance business performance across the board.

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Exporter of the year

An award which will recognise the top achieving exporting company from Northern Ireland's small business community, recognising sales achievement in all markets outside of Northern Ireland itself, including both the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain.

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Community Contribution Award

Despite smaller budgets, corporate responsibility plays an important role for small businesses in Northern Ireland. This special award will recognise the best example of how small businesses here can help to make a difference in the communities they serve.

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Hospitality & Tourism Business of the Year

A special category aimed directly at Northern Ireland's growing number of small tourism and hospitality-related business enterprises, including pubs, restaurants, cafes, smaller hotels, tourism activity businesses and transport and travel providers.

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Start-Up Business of the Year

Aimed at Northern Ireland's most promising start-up enterprise, the award will go to a young company of one year old or less since which, in the view of the judging panel, best illustrates what can be achieved by start-up businesses across any sector here in Northern Ireland.

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