The Independent Awards 2022
Who can apply?
Each award has its own specific criteria, so please do check the relevant category page for details. In general though, Entrants should be the founder of any small independent business that:
- Is based in the UK
- Is founder-owned (ie. the founder is the sole trader, in a partnership or where they own at least 51% of the limited company)
- Has no more than 20 full-time employees (or the equivalent) over the course of a year
Alternatively, anyone can enter on the founder’s behalf, as long as the business fulfils the above.
Can I apply on behalf of someone else?
Absolutely. We want to uncover the very best small businesses the UK has to offer so if you know one, encourage them to apply OR fill in the entry form for them. Our entry form will ask you at the start if you’re applying for your own business or one you admire.
Each small business will be judged on how well they meet the category criteria, there is no benefit to multiple entries so if you enter you don’t need to encourage someone else to enter for you as well.
Is there an entry fee?
No. Thanks to our fantastic small business supporters Dell Technologies, Royal Mail and Adobe Express there is no entry fee. All you have to do is complete our short application form on behalf of yourself or a small business you admire and you’re done.
Is it worth me entering?
Absolutely. You (or the small business you put forward) have got as good a chance of winning as anyone else, and these awards literally changed lives last year. It’s free to enter, takes next to no time and the benefits are HUGE. Very often imposter syndrome gets in the way but don’t let it. These awards aren’t just for the ‘known’ small businesses. There are categories you can enter where we’re just as interested in the one (wo)man bands out there, working hard to create excellence (even if that’s in a simple but brilliant product or service, made or shared with love). So go for it.
I was a Nominee/Finalist last year, can I still enter?
Yes. Last year’s Nominees and Finalists are very welcome to enter so you get another chance to win. We can’t wait to see how you’ve developed over this last year.
I was a Runner-Up/Winner last year, can I still enter?
Sadly not. We feel it’s important that The Independent Awards change as many lives as possible and so last year’s Runner-Ups and Winners cannot enter (though we very much hope you encourage others to, pass on any learnings and support them in the People’s Vote if they get nominated).
How do I know which category/s to enter?
We encourage you to read all of the category descriptions and criteria to see which one/s you think best describe either your business or the business you are entering on behalf of. You might fit in a few categories but we suggest you focus on the ones which describe you best (you can enter in up to two).
How many categories can I enter?
You can enter a business into no more than two categories but you only need to fill in one form. Additional entries will be discounted.
What happens if someone else has entered my business and I want to as well?
Congratulations, someone else is passionately supporting your small business. If you think you might have something more to say and would like to enter yourself, then you can complete your own entry form (for up to two categories). If we receive multiple entry forms for the same business from different people, we will always use the founder’s entries and discount the others.
How do I know my application has been successfully submitted?
You will receive a message on screen as soon as your entry has been submitted, and you will receive a confirmation email within 24 hours, too. If you don’t see either of these messages, it’s likely your entry hasn’t been submitted successfully for some reason so please do try again.
When is the deadline to submit my application?
It’s midday on 11th October 2022 so be quick. Sadly, any entry forms submitted after the closing date will not be accepted. Please note that HCO Ltd reserves the right to close entries early (though if this is the case we’ll give the public 48 hours notice before doing so). Good luck.
What does “full-time equivalent” employee mean?
This refers to team members who typically work eight hours a day, five days a week, over the course of a full year. So if you have part-time staff who typically work less than this, or seasonal staff who only work for the business at certain times of year like Christmas for example, they won’t count as full-time equivalent (FTE).
What does “founder-owned” mean?
It means that either the founder is the sole trader, in a partnership or where they own at least 51% of the limited company. So you might have accepted funding but as long as the investors don’t own more than 49% of your business, it’s considered to be founder-owned.
Can I enter if my business was co-founded?
Yes, absolutely. If you founded your business with another person (or people) and are therefore co-founders, you can still enter.
What are The Independent Award prizes?
The total prize fund is £100,000 which will be split between the Winners as follows:
- Six categories have two Winners (the first will receive £10,000, the second will receive £5,000).
- The People’s Choice Award has one Winner of £10,000.
Can nonprofits enter the awards?
Yes absolutely. In fact the Winner of our Passion & Purpose Award in 2020 is a registered charity, but your business must raise the majority of funds through products or services rather than relying on donations alone.
When will I hear if my entry has been successful and if my business has made it through to the next stage?
Founders will hear by 10th November 2022 so keep an eye on emails at the start of November. We are crossing everything for you.
Can I edit my entry once it’s been submitted?
No, sadly not. Once the entry has been submitted you cannot edit your entry form. That’s why it’s a good idea to draft your answers somewhere else first to make sure you’re happy with them before adding them into your entry form and submitting. It’s not possible to save answers that are part-finished and come back to them later either so please do make sure you allow enough time.
Can I see any entries made on my behalf?
Due to GDPR regulations we are unable to share any entries made on your behalf. If more than one entry is submitted on behalf of a business, we will review the entry made by the small business owner.
What are the criteria for the awards categories?
Each award has its own specific criteria, so please check the relevant category page on the site for details.
What is the People's Choice Award?
Once public voting opens, this award will be chosen by the people so it means the world. It can’t be entered directly but any Nominee who gets the most public votes wins, so it’s time to remind everyone you rock. Whether it’s for your brand, products or impeccable service, the people’s favourite will be awarded £10,000.
How will the Nominees be chosen?
All entries will be reviewed by the Holly & Co Team and assessed on how well they meet the criteria.
How will the Winners be chosen?
Finalists will be determined based on the public vote and our expert Judges. Category Winners will be chosen by the Judges.