Should Start-ups Pay to Participate in Award Shows

Starting a business is not an easy task. With limited financial resource, it becomes very hard for a small business to build its brand. Participating in awards can be great boost to a start-up. However, should start-ups pay to participate in award shows?

To be able to get decide on whether your start up should pay to participate in awards, it is important to know the benefits of industry awards.

As I mentioned above, most start-ups have the challenge of lack of enough resources. Money is usually tight and you could be feeling the heat of having limited financial resources.

In this regard, investing in award shows should be a carefully thought-out decision. Besides the money you are going to pay, you should also consider the time it takes to get involved in award shows.

Do you have the time and the personnel to allocate to this noble cause? This and other are some of the question you must consider as the business owner.

Paying to participate in industry’s award shows mean you are diverting cash that would otherwise be used in something else.

So, should your start-up pay to participate in award shows? Let us find out below.

Should Start-ups Pay to Participate in Award Shows?

In my personal opinion, a start-up should not pay to participate in award shows. There are many reasons to participate in awards, and also benefits of winning a business award.

However, I do feel that if you pay for the award, you will get biased feedback. The awards show organizers will feel obligated to help you win, even if you do not qualify.

This is simply because you have paid them money.

It would be better if you can get the award and the recognition due to merit.

Paying to Participate in Award Shows

While some awards have entry fees, it is not advisable to pay to participate in award shows.

The idea behind business awards, and the judging process is that there is fairness as well as objectivity.

You would agree with me that when participants pay for awards, the objectivity is lost. The organizers and judges would be expected to favor those who have paid money for the award.

This is one of the reasons why awards shows or programs are collapsing.

While this is not true for all awards, there is heavy favoritism towards one’s sponsors or the judge’s connections.

Winning any award, no matter how big or small, does not necessarily result in a direct return on investment (ROI).

It does, however, help with branding because an award means third-party credibility

Why Start-ups Should Participate in Awards

As an entrepreneur, you should think of the strategic value of joining or participating in award shows.

Your start-up is going to benefit from your leadership. Getting recognition can increase your sales and help your start-up to grow

Here are some reasons why your start-up should participate in award shows;

  1. Brand building.
  2. Increase in sales.
  3. Attract top talent.
  4. Get investor’s attention.
  5. Third party validation.

These are some of the benefits why you should invest in being part of business awards program in your industry.

Related: 19 Top Benefits of Winning Business Awards


In conclusion, there are many benefits for participating in business awards. In fact, I would argue that awards can help grow your start-up business.

However, the question remains; should start-ups pay top participate in award shows?

In this resource and as you have read above, a start-up can generate a great deal of positive social proof from an award show.

Being on the shortlist or winning an award would come with a lot of publicity. This would be positive to the start-up brand.

In this regard, the decision as to whether to pay to participate or not should be based on a cost-benefit analysis.

If the value the start-up will get from the award show is more than the price of participating, then yes, it should pay.

However, if there more disadvantages than benefits, then I do not think it would be prudent to invest in such an award show or program.

As a business leader, this is a decision you should be able to make, in the interest of your start-up.