What entrepreneurs can learn from olympians



As Britain prepares for a summer of sport, Steve Backley, former javelin world record holder and Olympian turned business motivator and author, calls on British businesses to encourage competition following two polls showing many embrace competition at work.

The first report, carried out by the National Business Awards in partnership with Orange, shows that 65% of workers agree winning is important to them, with over two thirds believing healthy competition brings out the best in people and almost 40% acknowledging they enjoy a competitive environment at work. However, many employees say competitiveness is not encouraged in their workplace enough.

Over 40% say being rewarded for their achievements at work encourages them to ‘up their game’, yet nearly 60% said they are not praised enough by bosses when they do well at work. Over half of the workers canvassed also said they would like to feel part of a winning business and would be proud if their place of work was recognised by winning an external award.

The second poll of National Business Awards past winners and finalists demonstrates that behind their business success is their willingness to embrace competition and reward. More than 90% feel healthy competition is important to their business, while more than two thirds say the main reason they enter awards is to motivate and reward staff.

Almost half believe becoming a finalist or winning a National Business Award has led to improved morale within their company and 95% say even just entering awards has led to an upturn in motivation and healthy competition amongst workers – showing competition inspires people to be better.

Steve Backley said: “Competitiveness is part of our DNA and it naturally causes us to perform better than we otherwise would, through benchmarking ourselves or our businesses against rivals. Healthy competition plays a key part in the worlds of business and sport, and a positive sporting mentality naturally maximises performance.”

The research is published as UBM’s flagship awards programme, the National Business Awards in partnership with Orange calls for organisations to enter the 2012 awards. The most respected accolade for business in the UK, the National Business Awards are based on the core principles of recognising business excellence, innovation and ethics across the full spectrum of private, public and third sector enterprises.

Organisations from all regions across the UK, from SMEs to FTSE 100s, are invited to register for award categories ranging from the Orange Innovation Award (won in 2011 by Harvard Engineering), to the Santander SME of the Year Award (won in 2011 by ‘freemium’ publisher ShortList Media) through to Entrepreneur of the Year (won by Paul Lindley, Founder and CEO of Ella’s Kitchen in 2011).

The Awards have distinguished themselves by the quality of businesses taking part and the robust judging process. Led by Baroness Bottomley of Nettlestone as Chair of Judges, nearly 100 multi discipline CEOs and senior directors participate as judges, bringing their expertise and insight to the three-tier judging process.

Baroness Virginia Bottomley, Chair of Judges said: “During these tough economic times, it is all the more important that we celebrate business success and leadership. These are the means by which wealth, employment and welfare are created. I am proud to Chair the National Business Awards Judges again: identifying and celebrating achievement and competition encourages others to strive for excellence.”

Caroline Jackson Levy, CEO of UBM Awards said: “The National Business Awards embraces the spirit of competitiveness and participation; and are all about creating a platform to help your business be the best it can be.”

Martin Stiven, Vice President of Business at Orange, part of Everything Everywhere said: “At Orange, we embrace competition as it encourages businesses and people to raise their game. The National Business Awards is the perfect example of embracing the British competitive spirit and business excellence, all of which are central to Orange’s company values. We are proud to be part of this year’s awards and I wish all entrants the best of luck.”

Finalists will be announced in August and winners will be announced at the National Business Awards gala dinner and awards ceremony in London at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Tuesday 13th November. To enter or nominate for this year’s campaign visit www.nationalbusinessawards.co.uk for more information.

The National Business Awards supports Help for Heroes, a charity that offers support and advice for wounded soldiers.