8 End-of-Summer Contests for Small Businesses

by Liz Magill on August 21, 2012

Contests and competitions offer an excellent way for your business to get publicity, build brand awareness, and interact with other small-business leaders. Even if you don’t win a prize (such as funding, technology, or free advice), you could earn bragging rights (such as Entrepreneur or Executive of the Year, Most Innovative Company, or Best New Product or Service) that bolster your credibility.

Here are eight end-of-summer contests currently under way, arranged by submission deadline. Nominate yourself, a client, a vendor, a partner, a customer, a friend, or a family member!

The New York Times — In its Make Your Pitch contest, The New York Times seeks an entrepreneur with an innovative business idea who can blog about the startup experience. Interested? Send in a video pitch that describes your marketing plans, your product or service, and how your business expects to make money. All pitches that meets the submission guidelines will be featured on the newspaper’s small-business Facebook page. And, if the NYT likes what it sees, you could be chosen as a regular contributor to its You’re the Boss blog. Enter by Aug. 29, 2012.

The Stevie Awards for Women in Business
— The Stevie Awards sets its sights on honoring women in business in a whopping 85 different categories, including Female Entrepreneur, Innovator, Executive, and Maverick of the Year (based on the size, type, and location of your company). Submit a 500-word essay and a 100-word biography of the nominee. Enter by Aug. 29, 2012. Late entries accepted until Sept. 28, 2012.

MacMall — In its third annual Supreme Studio Makeover Contest, Apple reseller MacMall is giving away more than $14,000 in prizes. The contest targets creative professionals but is open to all small businesses. The tech prizes offered include a MacBook Pro with Retina display, an HP Designjet 510 printer, and a Wacom Intuos5 tablet. No video or essay is needed here: Just register at the website. Enter by Aug. 31, 2012.

The Philanthropy News Digest — Four winners in the Power of Small: Entrepreneurs Strengthening Local Economies global competition will receive “a comprehensive capital, technology, and promotion package,” which includes $10,000 cash, technology to scale operations, and networking opportunities. Entries will be evaluated on their innovation, social impact, and sustainability. Enter by Sept. 5, 2012.

Pitney BowesPitney Bowes is sponsoring a nationwide Entrepreneurial Competition to create connections with promising entrepreneurs and to explore new business opportunities built upon its technologies. Entries will be judged on three criteria in the “digital and physical customer communications management arena.” Winners will receive free office space at Pitney Bowes headquarters (in Stamford, Conn.), access to the company’s platforms, and networking and coaching opportunities for one year. Enter by Sept. 7, 2012.

Under30CEO Awards — Sponsored by HighTable and eMinutes, Under30CEO aims to discover 300 young entrepreneurs in 10 U.S. cities: Austin, Boston, Boulder, Chicago, Kansas City, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington D.C. To quality, a company must have between $50,000 and $10 million in revenues or funding or more than 10,000 users — and one of its founders must be younger than 30 years old. Winners will be featured on the website. Enter by Sept. 15, 2012.

Cleantech Open — The planet’s biggest clean-technology business competition, Cleantech Open, is  a chance to win valued valued from $10,000 (regionally) to $250,000 (nationally) to help the winner start a business based on clean technology. Contest participants must answer five questions about their clean tech idea. National winners will compete as global finalists at the annual Cleantech Open Global Forum in Silicon Valley in November. There’s also a clean technology sub-competition for young entrepreneurs between the ages of 10 and 24. Enter by Sept. 30, 2012.

University of Northern Iowa (UNI) Regional Business Center  — Teaming up with The Technology Association of Iowa, Renew Rural Iowa, Iowa Economic Development Authority, Iowa Area Development Group, and the Community Vitality Center, the UNI Regional Business Center is offering Iowa small-business owners and entrepreneurs a chance to win a business grant of up to $10,000 by participating in the Dream Big, Grow Here contest. Entrants need to submit an email or video on how they want to grow their company — and why it’s important for them to do business in Iowa. Contest deadlines vary from Sept. 15 to Nov. 9, 2012.

Looking for more business cash whatever the time of year? Don’t forget to enter Intuit’s Love a Local Business competition!