The most entrepreneurial and original small businesses in Birmingham are being called on to reveal their most inspiring stories and join an exciting competition offering a £20,000 prize package.
Aston Villa sponsors, Intuit QuickBooks, are looking for local business heroes - from butchers to builders and hairdressers to IT consultants - working hard day in day out to achieve success.
It is the second year that the world’s number one online accounting software provider has run its Small Business Big Success competition in conjunction with the Birmingham Post and Mail.
And this year the company, which supplies up to 90 per cent of small businesses in the US, is looking for companies with a flair for originality and entrepreneurship.
The winner will receive a package worth over £20,000 – including £10,000 in prize money along with advertising and Aston Villa prizes. Entrants will also have the opportunity to attend a gala dinner at Villa Park on March 22.
Intuit Director of Finance, Europe, Mike Williams, said: “After a fantastic competition last year, we’re really excited to be bringing Small Business Big Success back to the West Midlands.
“We had several hundreds of entrants last year and we are hoping to attract even more firms to join the competition this year - describing their biggest success story and how they want to develop their business in 2016.
“We are looking for businesses with original and inventive ideas with great stories, which could be about their customers, their services or products. We want to see their enthusiasm and passion.”
Last year’s winners Boo Boo Coffee, in Harborne, has enjoyed increased success after walking away with the top prize worth £15,000.
The independent cafe on the High Street impressed judges with its traditional family ethos and good service.
Co-owner Keon Heidarinia said: “Winning the competition has had a major impact on our business and the prize package has really helped us push things forward. We’ve been able to start delivering an evening trade, which has helped us to grow the business.
“The prize also helped us to fund training for all our junior staff members, making them experts on coffee ingredients, methods, treatments and techniques – skills they can take with them anywhere in the world.
“We weren’t the highest profile or most profitable business in the competition but the judges clearly liked our story. So I’d advise any small business owner thinking of entering to get their entry in now for the chance to make their business bigger and better this year!”
More than 99 per cent of the private sector is made up of small businesses which are the lifeblood of the UK economy.
The West Midlands is one of the country’s most vibrant and diverse hubs for such firms and was recorded as having the third highest number of new start ups in 2015 by the Start-up Cities Index, following Aberdeen and Belfast.
In recent years, Birmingham has also emerged as a hotspot for investors with the city dominating the retail sector in particular following the opening of Grand Central at New Street Station and the enhancement of the Mailbox, according to a recent report by Bilfinger GVA.
Businesses who wish to enter should visit www.quickbooks.co.uk/success where they are invited to describe their biggest success story and how they want to develop their business in 2016.
Entries need to be received before 11.59pm on Monday, February 29.
Entrants must be a legal resident or UK citizen, and be 16 years or older.
They must own a small business, defined by having 50 or fewer full-time employees, and registered with HMRC.
Entrants must either be the small business owner or an employee, submitting with the permission of the owner.
Their business must be based in the West Midlands county (comprising Birmingham, Coventry, Wolverhampton, Dudley, Solihull, Walsall and Sandwell), Staffordshire, Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire or Warwickshire.
The winner will then be selected by a panel of judges including Mike Williams, Director of Finance at Intuit, Tom Fox, CEO at Aston Villa Football Club, Graeme Brown, Head of Business, Birmingham Post and Mail and Saqib Bhatti, President of the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce.
The winner will be announced at the gala dinner at Villa Park on 22 March.