A total of 13 prizes will be handed out at the Falkirk Herald Business Awards on November 3.
Award sponsor The Royal Bank of Scotland will present the overall winner, while The Falkirk Herald itself will honour the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award.
And this year there will be a new category for the Outstanding Restaurant of the Year, nominated by our readers.
Entries are now being accepted in the other 10 categories:
Best New Business (under two years old)
This award is designed for businesses under two years old which show a high degree of entrepreneurship and vision for the future, with the potential for further growth and expansion in turnover, profits and employment levels.
Successful businesses will articulate clearly the business idea and start-up process, giving evidence of a well-researched business plan and forecasts for business performance. The business idea will be offering something new to the market place in which the organisation is operating, and the management style will be entrepreneurial and ambitious.
Customer satisfaction will be at the heart of the business strategy of all successful organisations.
Entrants should be able to prove a track record in customer satisfaction and continued commitment to exceeding customer expectations, recognising the contribution from staff when dealing with customers.
A well-defined vision for the future will show the successful organisation building towards an enterprise of considerable potential in terms of sales, profits and employment.
Best Green Business
This category is open to all businesses in the region which demonstrate a strategic, comprehensive and innovative approach to integrating environmental strategy into all core business processes.
Best Website / E-Commerce
Judges will be looking for a website which encompasses excellence in content – not just text, but also music, sound animation or video – good navigation offering easy access to the breadth and depth of content, good quality visual design relevant to the audience and the message it is supporting, good functionality and good interactivity.
Companies will also be judged on how well they use the worldwide web to promote themselves, making use of the internet to widen their profile and increase sales.
Best Training and Development
This award recognises the business which has shown pre-eminent commitment to the development and welfare of its people, by encouraging training and employee development throughout the organisation.
Successful organisations in this category will demonstrate a strategic commitment to learning throughout the organisation, recognising the importance of the continual development of staff skills.
The winner will be able to show that it appreciates the genuine commitment to and trust in its people by encouraging them in a fulfilling and stimulating working environment.
The winner may well have sought external accreditation of its position by achieving Investors in People or other independently audited quality standards.
Most Innovative Company or Product
This category is open to those who have set up a company or designed a product, have a working unit, have made a number of sales and can demonstrate a high demand within their marketplace for their services and/or product. The successful candidate will have shown a high degree of innovation and be of the inclination and determination to want to progress their company and/or product towards a full market launch.
The winner of this category will need to define their target marketplace and demonstrate a real need for their innovation.
Judges will expect entrants to provide evidence of a well researched business plan, planned objectives, a detailed marketing plan and forecasts for product performance, growth and sales.
Best Sales and Marketing
This award will be presented to the organisation which can demonstrate significant improvement in productivity through the application of best practice in marketing and sales.
The winner will be able to give evidence of year-on-year improvement, while also demonstrating a drive to continue with a proactive marketing campaign enhancing sales in the future.
Best Business in the Community
This award will go to the organisation which best demonstrates commitment to the community in which they operate. This could be through initiatives which promote community development, staff volunteering and community access to its facilities or green campaigns to improve the environment.
It will recognise a company’s corporate responsibility and contribution within the community in which it is based.
Best Small Business (under 25 employees)
This award is for smaller businesses who can demonstrate dynamism, commitment to growth and success in achieving planned objectives.
Successful entrants will be able to demonstrate a clearly defined vision for developing and growing their business in terms of both turnover and employment. While demonstrating entrepreneurial characteristics, successful organisations will have systems in place to measure performance effectively, particularly financial controls.
Staff development and involvement of the workforce will be a key characteristic of the winner, as will a strong focus on the customer, with evidence of customer satisfaction and continued commitment to exceeding customer expectations.
Best Large Business (more than 25 employees)
This award is aimed at larger businesses which have successfully developed their organisation. The company culture will demonstrate an approach to business based on encouraging employee development, creativity and empowerment. Employees will demonstrate strong proactive relationships with customers and suppliers and a shared ambition to optimise business performance.
Strong leadership and clearly defined strategic objectives will have shaped the company’s growth and development. Entrants should be able to present a strong performance record and explain how their business differentiates itself from competitors.
Entrepreneur of the Year
This award will go to a man or woman who has shown a high degree of entrepreneurship and vision for the future. The winner will clearly demonstrate his/her business idea and start-up process, giving evidence of a well-researched business plan and forecasts for business performance.
The Entrepreneur of the Year will, in the opinion of the judges, have excellent potential to succeed in the longer term with a well defined and innovative vision for the future.