Inc.’s Best in Business Application Got stumped? Answers to the 5 most frequently asked questions

First things first: Bookmark the Best in Business application page.

Okay, to recap, Inc.’s Best in Business Awards celebrate companies that have made an extraordinary impact in the past year in their field, in their communities, or society at large. We do some big data-driven programs, like the Inc. 5000, and we wanted to balance those by also recognizing accomplishments that don’t necessarily show up on a balance sheet. Although we have many applications ahead of the early bird price deadline of August 19 – that’s tomorrow – there’s still time to apply. Here are the top five questions we get, along with our answers to get you on the right track. If your company puts profit before purpose, this is something for you.

1. What do you look for in an application?

In a sentence, positive impact. Ideally, this effect is measurable. And more than just a product from the company’s daily operations – although that is not a strict criterion. (Last year we highlighted Nova Credit, which helps immigrants establish credit profiles in the U.S.—a business model far too noble for us to ignore. A more typical example is The Mom Project, which, in addition to upskilling working mothers in everyday life, created a technical training grant which has given more than 2,000 women jobs in companies such as IBM and Deloitte.) Broadly speaking, we look for efforts, initiatives, programs and the like that go beyond a mission-driven business model. Good work, indeed.

Pro tip: Be specific and, where relevant, include numbers we can verify.

2. Should we enter more than one category?

Probably that. We’re offering more than 40 industry categories this year, including new for businesses in e-commerce, events and experiences, management consulting, software-as-a-service, sustainability and more. In addition to these, we will also look for winners by company size, stage, revenue and region – as well as awarding an all-around winner of General Excellence (think best picture). If you can make a good case for your business in multiple categories, you should – Inc.’s team of editors rates submissions in each category against each other, and looks at each category individually. We award a winner in each category, so the more categories, the better the odds. Last year we selected almost 200 honorees.

3. We are a public company, but we really want to enter. Can we?

No, sorry. To be eligible, a company must be private, based in the United States, and independent (that is, not a subsidiary). Our fact checkers investigate these criteria, so if you don’t meet them, please save yourself and us time and money.

4. Why should I apply and what happens if I win?

Well, because you want to be recognized as a company that puts purpose before profit by a trusted resource in business media. But it is many reasons. I can tell you that last year we called the list “The Companies We Admire Most.” Each company will be seen and evaluated by Inc. editors, and whether you make it or not, it puts you on our radar. A good number of honorees will appear in the winter issue of Inc. as well as online, where all honorees will be listed. Consider that we think of our audience of founders and entrepreneurs as a community, and this is one way to join.

5. When is the deadline?

The early rate deadline to apply is Friday 19 August. Then the rate increases during the stretch until the last deadline, Friday 16 September. Don’t let the dog eat your homework. And remember that earlier is better – we also work with the deadline, and the more time we have with your app, the more we get to know your company.

Pro Tip: You can apply now, save your listing in our system and continue working on it until the deadline.

Still can’t find the answer you need? Do not worry. We have a dedicated team to handle application questions and you can email them here:

Good luck, and keep up the good work!

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