BBB introduces new initiative to recognize entrepreneurs, emerging business owners

April 22, 2023 3:00 am

BBB President & CEO Jim Hegarty speaks at the 2022 BBB Torch Awards for Ethics luncheon. (Courtesy of Marcus of Omaha Fine Photography)

The most fundamental component of any successful commercial transaction is trust. For as long as trade and commerce have existed, consumers have sought to identify and engage with honest and credible organizations — and to avoid those who fail to uphold such characteristics.

Seems simple enough, right?

But how many of us regularly experience trust when we log onto our laptop? How often do we trust the marketing we consume? How much do we really know about the places where our money goes?

For more than a century, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has worked to identify and advance trust in the marketplace. It hasn’t always been easy. In fact, it’s arguably more difficult than ever.

The reported median dollar loss for scam victims to BBB Scam Tracker was $171 in 2022. Nobody has budgeted for a $171 loss when they engage with a business or attempt to secure a product or service.

And yet, Nebraska is unquestionably filled with businesses and charities that prioritize integrity and ethics in organizational decision-making. It is home to reliable accountants and artists, bakers and bookstores, contractors and credit unions. It is a state with no shortage of trust.

For a quarter-century, BBB has held an annual awards program in Nebraska — the BBB Torch Awards for Ethics — to celebrate marketplace role models. Why? Because community matters. Because representation matters. Because it is incumbent upon those who can to shine a light on those organizations that the next generation of business owners and leaders can look to for guidance. Those interested in such an honor can apply through April 28.

The next step is to bring that conversation to the entrepreneurial and startup community. Now.

The journey of an entrepreneur or new business owner is often challenging. Isolation and long hours are common. Financial pressures are constant. Dreams frequently burst before they materialize. An award isn’t going to change that. But what if more resources and inertia could be dedicated to celebrating those who inspire and innovate? What if a new leader was provided a moment to reflect on the spark they’ve captured?

We have an award for that. The BBB Spark Awards is a new awards recognition program that celebrates emerging business leaders and entrepreneurs who advance trust in the marketplace. Not the ones who built a fortune or put integrity on the back burner. Any business owner under 45 years old who runs a business that has been in operation for at least one year is eligible. The business must be located within the state, and the majority of its operations must be handled there, too. Although the company doesn’t need to be BBB Accredited to apply, the company must be in good standing with the BBB. There are no financial obligations of any kind to apply, win or promote the award.

This isn’t a glorified online survey masquerading as an awards program, either. Entries will be evaluated by an independent, voluntary panel of judges from around the area. Each applicant will be judged on the BBB’s Three C’s of Trust criteria: Character, Culture and Community. No company nor its leader is perfect; each is unique and has different experiences and policies. Creativity is encouraged as applicants exemplify how the criteria is part of the DNA of the organization.

As the only award in North America that celebrates early-stage entrepreneurs and new business owners that prioritize trust, this recognition doubles as a beacon for our local communities. There’s no shortage of creative energy in Nebraska’s business community. BBB aims to showcase it.

Applications are open until April 28, and winners will be recognized at the BBB Torch Awards luncheon on Tuesday, Sept.19, 2023, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at A View West Shores. Tickets for the event are $85 and can be secured at Sponsorships are also available.

Editor’s note: This article has been revised to reflect the correct date of the awards luncheon.

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Josh Planos
Josh Planos

Josh Planos, APR, is the Vice President of Communications & Public Relations for the Better Business Bureau. He serves as the spokesperson of BBB’s International Investigations Initiative, and oversees and executes all internal and external communication efforts. His writing has been published by FiveThirtyEight, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post, among other news outlets. He was recognized among the Midlands Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Class in 2022.