In these unprecedented times, running an SME has never been more challenging. However, in the face of lockdown restrictions and forced closures, many companies through ingenuity and forward planning have continued to thrive.


In these unprecedented times, running an SME has never been more challenging. However, in the face of lockdown restrictions and forced closures, many companies through ingenuity and forward planning have continued to thrive. But it can be lonely running a business, and this is where the power of community comes in. By coming together, business owners can help each other during times of adversity, as well as share achievements. So it’s vital to support, nurture and celebrate business success at a regional level. Business networking is superb for raising your profile, but to really stand out from the crowd, there’s no better place to start than by winning an award. For SMEs in Hampshire, there’s one event that stands out from the rest, and that’s the Inspire Business Awards.

What are the Inspire Business Awards?

The Inspire Business Awards was first established over 15 years ago, in 2005. Entirely funded through sponsorship and run by Destination Basingstoke, the event showcases business excellence in North Hampshire and is the premier awards event in the region. A glamorous black tie occasion, the event brings together 500 guests each year. It really is a fantastic opportunity to gain recognition, raise your company profile and nurture new business opportunities. Not only does this gain third party endorsement but it’s also great for PR and is an excellent marketing platform for your Hampshire business. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it’s a fantastic boost for all employees. In times like these, achieving such an accolade can make all the difference to morale.

The Award Categories

As we all know, in business there’s no ‘one size fits all’ and that’s the beauty of this awards programme. Not only are the awards open to all businesses based across North Hampshire, but there are also numerous categories, catering to all sizes and types of business.

Here are the award categories:

    1. Large Business of the Year (Over £5 million turnover)
    1. Medium Business of the Year (£501k to £5 million turnover)
    1. Small Business of the Year (Turnover under £500k)
    1. Business and the Community
    1. Employer of The Year
    1. Innovation Excellence Award
    1. Service Excellence Award
    1. New Business of the Year
    1. Environmental Responsibility Award
    1. Excellence in Digital Technology & eCommerce Development
    1. Young Person in Business Award
    1. Wellbeing at Work Award

Interested? Find Out How to Enter

The awards programme is open for entries from May until September; it’s free to enter and all forms can be found on the Inspire Awards website. Finalists are announced in October, and the awards ceremony usually takes place in November.  All finalists receive a free ticket to the glittering event, but as it’s always a sell-out event, if you want your business to be represented at this prestigious occasion, you should book as soon as tickets become available.

All information for entrants can be found on the Inspire Awards website; there’s also a newsletter and regular updates are provided on Twitter and Facebook. You can nominate yourself or another business, and all it takes is the completion of an entry form. What’s more, entrants can opt to be considered for more than one category, maximising their chances of success.

2020 Business Winners

The Inspire Business Awards are the highlight of the business calendar for Hampshire businesses. A chance to meet with other business owners, promote your business and receive recognition for success. However, as we all know the awards season was hit hard by the pandemic last year, with events such as the Oscars and the BAFTAs being forced online. This was also true for the Inspire Business Awards, which became a virtual awards ceremony, screened online by Face TV.

Here are the 2020 winners:

Large Business of the Year: Lavazza Professional UK

Medium Business of the Year: Crayside Consulting

Small Business of the Year: Mr Digital

Business and the Community: The Shots Community Foundation

Employer of The Year: Bakedin

Innovation Excellence Award: Glyconics

Service Excellence Award: Right At Home

New Business of the Year: The Little Whisky Shop

Environmental Responsibility Award: Bee Good

Excellence in Digital Technology: DCSL Software

Young Person in Business Award: Tara Morris from Abstract Print & Design

Wellbeing at Work Award: Pennington Manches Copper LLP

2021 Awards Ceremony

If you’re interested in entering this year’s event, look out for announcements on social media and the Inspire Awards website. Plans for 2021 haven’t yet been announced, but the way the vaccine is rolling out, we hope the awards evening will be in person. After such a long time working in isolation, the event would be more celebratory than ever, and an excellent way to recognise the passion and determination this business sector has shown over the past year.

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