Last year, Meg Bell of Clockwork PA entered her first ever awards process. She self-nominated for 2 Virtual Assistant of the Year awards in the North West PA awards and The Manchester PA Awards.

Here she tells us about the internal struggle to enter the awards in the first place…


Vanity project

I am one of those self-deprecating people who prefers to make a joke of a bad situation than to blow my own trumpet and celebrate my triumphs. I guess I am British through and through. I have worked for a few US based companies over the years and although I embraced the culture of positivity in each of them, I always reverted back to type when I left. When it came to setting up my own business, the day to day work has taken over and spending any time developing my business and celebrating achievements has always been on the back burner.

However, I do understand the importance of networking, press coverage and testimonials to my business and ensuring I have enough new clients every year to pay the bills. So, when I saw The Manchester PA Awards had included a Virtual Assistant of the Year award in their 2018 awards I was tempted to apply. But, I still spent at least 2 months having an internal battle. Would self-nomination be seen negatively? Would it look as though I was self-aggrandising? Should I go for it even though I would have to face into those awkward conversations “well done for being nominated” “erm actually I nominated myself”…



I have never been one to enjoy the year end appraisal process. Again, the self-deprecation comes in to play and I hate bigging myself up. However, when completing them and receiving feedback from colleagues it always gave me a sense of satisfaction that I was doing a good job.

When you work for yourself, there is no one to give you a year end appraisal. Don’t get me wrong I get feedback from clients (I’ve had a few bottles of gin from one particularly grateful client!) but it’s not the same as sitting down once a year and having that time to reflect.

The awards nomination process allowed me to do this. I looked back on everything I had achieved in year one and stunned myself a little. I also asked my regular clients for feedback and was delighted to receive some excellent testimonials, I now use them on my website and in my social media.


All awards have their fair share of press coverage, social posts and of course attendees. Entering the awards and making it through to shortlist stage, even if you don’t win, increases your brand awareness. This, in turn, can increase your sales, client base and network in general.

If you are lucky enough to win the award, the opportunities this can open up to you are huge. Winners of The Manchester PA Awards have spoken of how many doors this has opened up for them.

Even though I didn’t win, I did find some great new contacts and potential collaboration opportunities through entering the awards.



The validation you get as an expert in your field from being shortlisted is incredible. As a small business you often forget how much you know and that you are an expert – this process helps to reaffirm that to you. Being shortlisted helps to set you apart from your competition and can help with future recruitment or applying for investment for your business.


One of the best things about entering awards is the night itself. Being self-employed I miss Friday night drinks with colleagues, staff parties and celebrations. Going to an awards do helps to fill this void and it is a great excuse to get dressed up and have a fantastic evening. One of the awards I entered also had one of the most amazing prizes for winners on the night. They celebrated all shortlisters prior to the awards with an event just for them and then took all the winners out for dinner after the awards. Definitely a reason to be in it to win it!


Still not convinced?

If you are still not convinced about self-nomination, why not speak to someone who can complete the application for you? Whether a business coach, client or VA – there are definitely people out there who would support your application and take that pain away from having to self-nominate.


Where do I sign up?

With all the positive reasons to nominate yourself for awards, it is a bit easier to get over the vanity and get that application in!

There are loads of awards to choose from. Industry-specific awards are far and wide. Remember you are a business owner so go for business owner awards like the MPower Awards and the Freelance awards with IPSE.

For more business-centric awards, check out the following:

And Good Luck!