Discover the Latest Opportunities for Your Card & Gift Business

Are you seeking opportunities for your card or gift business this month?

It’s time once again to look out our monthly opportunities, in the March 2020 Opportunity List.

Spring is almost with us and this seems to have brought forward a host of opportunities for shiny awards, competition prizes and even the chance to have your product made by a top retailer. 

Not to mention 1 call for creatives that has a £50,000 prize fund and £100,00 worth of business support on offer to 5 lucky winners. 

As always, this month’s round-up includes calls for artists and retailers, as well as several exciting business awards. 

Let’s look what the month ahead has on offer…

Business Awards

The Small Awards

Applications are now open for The Small Awards. Judged by some of the most highly respected small businesses in the UK, The Small Awards aim to shine a light on SME’s across the country.

Run by the same folks that give us Small Business Saturday every December, these awards are likely to get a lot of positive promotion.

The Awards has 11 categories such as ‘High Street Hero’ and ‘Heart of Gold’; as well as the ultimate ‘Small Business of the Year Award’.

Backed by some big-name sponsors including Entrepreneur& TSB, The Small Awards are sure to generate some valuable media attention for the winners.

To find out more about the award categories and how you can get involved please visit The Small Awards website.

Deadline: Midnight 13th March 2020.


Best Workplaces for Innovators

Last year, Fast Company launched a brand new list — Best Workplaces for Innovators — to identify company cultures that empower their employees to improve processes, create new products, or invent new ways of doing business.

50 winning companies (big and small, from around the world) were honoured in Fast Company’s September issue for cultivating internal innovation.

This year, Best Workplaces for Innovators will also include an Innovation Team of the Year award, honouring teams whose creativity and passion have driven a major breakthrough for an applying company.

The entry fee for the competition is $595 but with Fast Company’s global profile, the attention on the awards could be worth the cost.

For your chance to be named a Best Workplace for Innovators take a look at the Fast Company website for full information and access to the entry form. 

Deadline: 20th March 2020


The British Quality Foundation (BQF) UK Excellence Awards 2020

BQF’s awards celebrate organisations and individuals that represent excellence, whether it be through customer experience, employee engagement or leadership. Our awards are open to all types of organisations – regardless of size, sector or industry.

For 2020 the BQF has added 4 new award categories as part of their ‘Excellence In’ series; bringing more opportunities to showcase commitment to quality.

To find out more and register your interest in applying please visit the BQF website.

Deadline: Various (7th February – 31st March 2020).


The Lotus Awards

No rules, no fees, no limitations. The Lotus Awards are a little different.  

Believing that traditional awards cannot address the diversity of all the amazing organisations on our planet The Lotus Awards do not limit winners.

They don’t arbitrarily compare unique organisations to find 1 winner. They don’t use a bias metric and they don’t subjectively pick winners.

The Lotus Awards celebrate excellence and all amazing organisations. Integrity, authenticity & excellence wins a Lotus Award, we don’t judge on production value we care about your story.

To find out more and enter please visit The Lotus Awards website

Deadline: 31st March 2020


UK Business Awards (The Dons)

The UK Business Awards (UKBA) aim to recognise the finest accomplishments from the world of British business.

Now in its 6th year, ‘The Dons’ are back with 16 categories, in which businesses of every size and sector have the chance to do well.

These Awards recognise the organisations, teams and individuals who are shaping the future of business. As well as being a forum for sharing best practice, UKBA is an inspirational experience that enables personal and professional growth.

The awards trophies are affectionately called ‘The Dons’ in tribute to our Chairman, Don Hales, a prominent figure in the awards industry for the last three decades who has founded many of the UK’s most respected business awards.

For full information and to take part please visit the UK Business Awards website

Deadline: 9th April 2020


The 2020 Stationers’ Innovation Excellence Award

The 7th Stationers’ Innovation Excellence Awards Ceremony is set to take place at Stationers’ Hall on 30 June 2020.

Believing innovation is a key driver of prosperity and growth, The Stationers’ Company is encouraging companies to improve performance and enhance the customer experience across our industries.

The Awards will celebrate the key role that our industries play in the UK economy and give valuable publicity to those shortlisted and, especially, the winners in each category. 

The competition is open to all sectors across the Communications and Content industries, including publishing, paper, printing and packaging, office products, marketing, software and games, communications, education, broadcasting, journalism and digital media.

Organisers are looking for novel ideas and solutions across several categories: business process, communications, customer experience, product design, product performance, service development and start-up.

To enter, complete the entry form on the Stationers’ website. Notes for entrants and a checklist are also available on the webpage. Please be sure you read those carefully before completing your entry form.

Deadline: 7pm, Thursday 9th April 2020

SBS at Autumn Fair – Win a Stand at Autumn Fair 2020

win a free stand at autumn fair

Theo Paphitis and Small Business Sunday (#SBS) have announced a competition to give small businesses a free boost at Autumn Fair 2020

12 #SBS winners have the chance to win a free exhibition stand at Autumn Fair 2020. Giving them an opportunity for exposure and growth.

The winners will take centre stage at the Fair in the #SBS Pavilion, which runs 6th-9th September at Birmingham’s NEC; gaining access to thousands of visitors and buyers ahead of the busiest retail period of the year.

Theo Paphitis, #SBS creator and retail entrepreneur, said:

“I am delighted to partner with Autumn Fair once again and offer another 12 #SBS winners a free stand at the event in September. The previous winners have all reaped huge rewards from the experience whether through new contacts, suppliers, orders, new directions or collaborations and I’m sure this year will be no different. I encourage my #SBS winners to grab this opportunity with both hands and go for it!”

The competition requires applicants to fill out an entry form, which will then be judged by a panel of experts from Autumn and Spring Fair event organisers, Hyve.

To take part, please email the #SBS Crew on [email protected] for an entry form. You can also see terms and conditions on the SBS website

Deadline: 1st May 2020.

Best Small Shops Competition

Indie Retail is on the hunt for the best small shops in the UK.

The Best Small Shops competition celebrates, not only the commitment and creativity of entrepreneurial independent retailers on the UK’s High Streets but also, the central role independent retailers play in building local communities.

As the lifeblood of communities, small shops provide a unique offering of product, service and knowledge.

The Best Small Shops competition is designed to celebrate their achievements and show consumers what makes small shops special.

You can find all the info you need to enter the Best Small Shops competition on the Indie Retail website. Entry is free so be sure to share this with all the small shops you know!

Deadline: 11:59pm, 25th July 2020


p2p Business Awards

p2p Business Awards recognise small business excellence from any sector, offering awards for businesses (especially small businesses) anywhere in the world.

A democratic judging process encourages engagement, offering an opportunity for you to network and get to know other businesses in the categories you enter. With p2p awards, you judge your peers’ entries.

Their aim is small business awards without the nonsense.

For more information and to enter visit the p2p Business Awards website

Deadline: TBC – Early Bird Registration Open Now (details expected mid-march)


the opportunity list march 2020

Business Support Opportunities

Leading to Grow Programme

leading to grow programme

Image credit: University of Leicester

Introduced by the Univesity of Leicester, the ‘Leading to Grow Programme’ will support small businesses to grow, innovate and increase productivity through adopting digital and new technologies.

The programme aims to help small business owners to explore digital and new technologies suited to their business goals, and to develop the management capabilities they need to implement the technologies.

The programme will be offered by the University as part of a consortium of 15 business schools across England that have been accredited by the Small Business Charter.

Participation is free to eligible ‘microbusinesses’ with between 1-9 employees. Places are fully funded by the Business Basics Fund from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Innovate UK.

To take part your business must:

  1. Be a formally registered business (i.e. the business must have a VAT number or PAYE number or Companies House registration) which has a trading history of three or more years.
  2. Employ between 1-9 people.
  3. Not have participated on a formal programme to raise productivity delivered by a business school in the last 12 month

For more information and to apply, visit the University of Leicester website

Rising Retail Masterclass

Rising Retail is a Masterclass for independent gift shop retailers and leading experts to come together to share best practices that they can then take home to improve their businesses and enhance their high streets.

The packed programme will cover:

  • Trends – What’s coming and how to take advantage
  • Visual merchandising – How to create exciting shopping experiences
  • Lessons from the top – Tips from majors that indies can benefit from
  • Staff – Recruiting, motivating, and retaining great retail teams
  • Making Mistakes  – Classic mistakes Indie Retailers can learn from
  • Going Green – How retailers can reduce their environmental impact
  • Instagram – Retailer tips for growing sales through social media
  • Social Selling – How using online groups can boost sales
  • Google My Business – How to boost footfall to your store
  • How to build an engaged community for £50
  • Negotiating – how to cut costs and save money as an independent

The Rising Retail event has been rescheduled for Monday 1st June 2020.

More information will be shared about the new date as it arrives.


Industry Events

National Stationery Week Seeks Retail Partners

National Stationery Week has put the call out for retailers to join the campaign!

Now in its 10th year, National Stationery Week is aiming to be bigger and better than ever before with a new look POS kit available for its retail partners. 

For £50 (+ VAT), companies will receive window vinyls, posters, shelf strips, wobblers and digital assets to draw customers into store whilst becoming a key part of the week-long stationery spectacle. 

Those taking part will also have their name listed on the National Stationery Week website.

Running from the 20th-26th April 2020, National Stationery Week celebrates all things stationery. This year they will also be doing some good, thanks to the campaign’s partnership with VENT for Change.

Each brand will receive a pot of eco-friendly pencils to help raise money for children’s education projects.

National Stationery Week is an opportunity for retailers in the industry to be part of an event that reaches a wide international audience. 

If you would like to take part you can sign up for your POS pack at the National Stationery Week website.

Competitions/Opportunities for Artists & Designers

Lab.15 Art Competition

Lab.15 art contest is looking for submissions and open to all kind of artists.

Works allowed in the art competition are drawings, paintings, sculptures, photographs, graphics, mix media and video.

This could be a great opportunity for artists to win a cash prize and have their work exhibited in a gallery in Milan, Italy.

For full information see the Lab.15 website

Deadline: 13th March 2020.

Mother Art Prize 2020

The Procreate Project is back with its 3rd edition of the Mother Art Prize 2020, the only international open call for self-identifying women and non-binary visual artists with caring responsibilities.

Its aim is to promote and support artists who are mothers/parents as well as drive the attention of the wider public to a broad-spectrum of themes that would otherwise be overlooked and devalued.

The prize is aimed at artists working in one or more of the following media: painting, drawing, mixed-media, photography, digital art, sculpture, ceramics, installation, textile, sound and video and there are no theme restrictions.

For more information and to apply, visit the Mother Art Prize website

Deadline: 13th March 2020.

Hand & Lock Prize for Embroidery

The annual Hand & Lock Prize for Embroidery was established in 2000 to give new designers, interested in embroidery, the opportunity to showcase their talents and gain vital exposure and experience.

In recent years it has been expanded to include textile artists, interior and accessory designers as well as those working in fashion.

The 2020 Prize brief calls for entrants to use colour as a key narrative, a fundamental component of their design process as they develop colour-led textile designs for fashion and art textiles

For more information on how to apply, visit the Hand Embroidery website.

Deadline: 31st March 2020.

Deutsche Bank Awards for Creative Entrepreneurs

change wanted - makers

Deutsche Bank is seeking Creative Social Entrepreneurs and offering a £50,000 prize fund and £100,000 worth of business support to 5 lucky winners.

DBACE is seeking 18 to 30-year-old creative entrepreneurs who are driven by a mission to build and sustain social value through their enterprise.

All business stages are eligible, but this is specifically for the creative industries

For more information and to take part visit the DBACE website.

Deadline: 31st March 2020.

Living Etc & Habitat Competition: Win the Chance to Have Your Product Made and Sold by Habitat

If you’ve been looking for a way to break into the design industry, this might be the ideal opportunity

Routes into the design world are not open to everyone and sadly the industry is not as diverse as the nation.

With this in mind, Living Etc has partnered with Habitat for an inclusivity initiative, opening doors to everyone.

If you have a bright idea for a piece of furniture, some lighting or textiles, now is the chance to have it created, sold and be paid fairly for your work by Habitat, one of the UK’s leading retailers of contemporary design

In this competition, 3 winners will get the unique opportunity to:

  • Work with Habitat to turn your idea into a real product sold in-store and online
  • Be mentored by Livingetc and Habitat, a unique opportunity to work in the design industry
  • Be paid fairly for your work
  • Take the first steps into what could be the start of an exciting new career

The competition is looking to champion new talent: people who have never had their work put into production before and who have the potential to become the next big stars.


To apply, print and complete the entry form and post to the address shown. 

Deadline: Midnight 31st March 2020.

Like Opportunities for Your Business?

That’s it for the March 2020 Opportunities List.

I hope you found some chances to grow your business or shine a light on what you do. 

Check back next month for more opportunities.

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