A total prize fund of €7,000 and a chance to compete in the national finals is up for grabs for Donegal businesses in this year’s Donegal Enterprise Awards, and entries to the competition are now open.
However, previous awards winners have insisted that it’s not just the prize fund – but the positive spin-off afterwards – that has really paid dividends for their businesses.
Road maintenance company RoadTeam Ltd provide cost-effective alternative road maintenance solutions and having scooped the innovation award in 2010, they went one better in 2013 when they took the overall prize.
That proved to be a major benefit for the company says Adrian Britton, who explained that RoadTeam secured new business on the back of their success.
“We tendered for work in Aberdeenshire and we hadn’t worked with these people before. When they saw on our website that we had won the overall award in the Donegal Enterprise Awards, they gave us the contract.”
Adrian, has encouraged small businesses in Donegal to enter the 2017 awards, and insisted taking part in the competition is a superb learning experience and one that is of immense benefit.
“The awards gave us a real focus on the business side of things and we had everything in order for 2013 when we won the overall prize, but the process has taught us how important it is to keep a focus on the business.”
Joe Bonnar Metal Crafts Ltd – who export their high-quality bespoke metal products all over the world – were winners of the Best Established Business category in the 2016 Donegal Enterprise Awards and Mark Patton agreed that taking part in the competition really gave them focus.
“Honestly, I’d say like a lot of businesses probably think, when the awards came up last year I thought we just didn’t have the time to be entering them. We were so busy, but having been through the process I am really glad that we did.
Once we committed to entering it did give us the jolt we needed to look at the business and the whole process gave us a lot of confidence and renewed self-belief.”
Mark said that their company had never really engaged with the Local Enterprise Office until a few years ago and he also urged businesses to consider entering the awards.
“I know that the awards are open to all small businesses, not just ones that currently engage with the LEO and I really would recommend to any business to make sure they enter and to engage with Donegal Local Enterprise Office.
We hadn’t done that until just around two years ago, but since then the assistance, the sharing of information and the tips on day to day running of the business we have got, have all been priceless.
Winning the award, was the icing on the cake for us. It was great in terms of the publicity we got and it was a great boost for our staff, great reward for all their hard work.”
Gina Witherow of Donegal English Language School was also thrilled to have won the prize in the Best Established Business category when they entered the awards in 2015.
“A lot of work went into the application, but I found it really rewarding. It’s a great process to sit back on reflect on where you are in the business and also to give yourself a pat on the back to say well done for all that hard work.”
The 2017 Donegal Enterprise Awards competition is open to all business sectors in Donegal employing less than 50 full-time staff, with the exception of previous county winners who are not eligible to enter. A business does not need to have had any previous contact with the Local Enterprise Office to enter the awards.
This year’s competition will see awards presented in the following categories:
• Overall Winner
• Best Established Business
• Best Start Up Business (18 months or less)
• Innovation Award
From these a representative will be chosen to represent Donegal at the National Enterprise Awards Final.
The application form, guidelines for the judging criteria, marking system and competition guidelines are all available to download from the Donegal Local Enterprise Office website: