A New Category in the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Program.

Innovative technology has the power to help people and businesses realize their full potential. This power is evident with small businesses that in today's information-based economy are using technology in new ways to not just survive, but to thrive and grow.

To celebrate this spirit a new category has been created for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® program, the Microsoft® Realizing Business Potential Award. This award will recognize smaller companies (fewer than 100 employees) that have demonstrated success and growth by leveraging computer related technology in their business. Winners of the new award can receive up to $50,000 in computer software, hardware, and Microsoft Certified Partner services for use in their business.

Who Qualifies. The Realizing Business Potential Award is open to all U.S. and Puerto Rico-based businesses with less than 100 employees that have been in business for three or more years and whose owner or founder is still involved in day-to-day decisions.

Award Criteria. Candidates will be judged on a unique or interesting use of computer technology that benefits the company, employees, or customers, and enables the company to realize its full potential. You're encouraged to be creative about what this means to you, but here are some suggestions:

·          Describe how technology helps you increase efficiency and get beyond basic productivity

·          Describe how technology helps you create a unique market niche

·          Describe how technology helps you build and maintain more profitable customer relationships

In addition to the above criteria, judges will also consider proof of strong sales growth and community involvement.

Regional Awards. All regional Realizing Business Potential Award winners become eligible for the National Realizing Business Potential Award and will be invited to the national event in November in Palm Springs where the winner will be announced.

Each Regional Award winner will receive:

·          $10,000 grant for Microsoft Business productivity applications, operating systems, and vertical solutions

·          Up to a $500 grant to be used towards Microsoft hardware

National Awards. One National Realizing Business Potential Award winner will be announced in November in conjunction with the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year National Awards Program, but two companies will be winners. One award will go to the category winner and the other award to the not-for-profit organization identified by that winner. *

Both the National Realizing Business Potential Award winner and the charity of choice will receive:

·          $50,000 Technology Makeover

Want to participate? There are plenty of ways you can take advantage of this new award:

·          Nominate yourself - If you're a small business owner, we hope you enter to win. We encourage self-nominations.

·          Nominate others - If you know of a small business owner working with technology, nominate them for the recognition and award.

·          Spread the word - If you're involved with a local or regional small business organization or association, tell others about this new award.

·          Microsoft Technology Partners - Nominate your company or one of your customers.

Deadline is April 16th, except for the San Diego area. Submit your form online or download a copy (pdf, 93K) and mail it to the appropriate Ernst & Young office. For more information call 1-800-755-AWARD (800/755-2927). Please know that all the information that is submitted to E&Y will be considered confidential.

* Microsoft must approve final charity or not-for-profit organization chosen by the winner.

Thank you and have a wonderful day,

Eric Ligman
Small Business Development Manager – U.S. Central Region


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