Can you really give awards for business failures?

When I share the Rural Jobs Creation Strategies, I talk about giving lots of awards for business successes and failures. It’s a great way to show that you value entrepreneurship of all kinds. 

Not just one or two awards, but lots of awards. You want lots of entrepreneurship, right? You might give awards for… 

  • Business of the Year 
  • Young Entrepreneur of the Year
  • Best Business Inside a Business
  • Best Business with No Physical Location
  • Best Truck or Trailer-based Business
  • Hired First Employee (you may have lots of these)
  • Reached 10 Employees (lots of these would be great!) 
  • Rising Star Businesses (anyone who started this year)
  • Best Business Idea that Almost Worked but Not Quite
  • Best Business Success After a Failure

Those last two can trip people up. Can you really give people awards for failing? YES! But…

You can’t make a failure award your only award. That’s not a positive thing. And you need to be a positive organization, one with a known history of being fun, playful and encouraging. The grouchy board should never give an award for failure.

If you decide a public award isn’t the right thing for you, you can still encourage people who tried a business that didn’t work. The purpose of the awards is encouragement, after all.

Go in person to see those entrepreneurs who tried but failed. Tell them personally you appreciate what they were trying for the community. Thank them for putting themselves at risk.

If it feels right, continue your conversation. Ask what they learned that might help others who try a similar idea at another time. Or ask if they have other dreams or projects waiting in the wings. If they do, start asking how you can connect them with the people, resources or training that can help them succeed.

Bottom line, you might not want to actually give an award for failure, yet. But you can start showing people who try entrepreneurial ideas that you appreciate them. 
Keep shaping the future of your town, 

PS –  I’m going to be mostly off the grid for a bit. Feel free to reply with your thoughts, but be patient if it takes me a little time to answer you, ok? Thanks!