Want $30K From Dell?

Calling all SMBs &#151 it’s time to let the rest of the world know how you’re using technology to improve your business. Dell and the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) are teaming up for the second straight year to recognize small businesses that use technology creatively.

The Dell/NFIB Small Business Excellence Award &#151 first established in 2004 &#151 honors small businesses that use information technology to improve their customers’ experience. Today, Dell starts accepting applications for the 2005 award.

In a recent company statement, Michael Dell said: “Technology is a great entrepreneurial enabler and a cornerstone of growing businesses. By making smart investments in technology, even small start-ups can expand their industry presence and reach new customers. This award program commends those small-business owners who are leveraging IT to take their organizations to that next level of success.”

This year’s winner will receive $30,000 in technology and professional services from Dell, take part in the company’s “A Day with Dell” program with Dell executives (that includes time with the big man himself), and a lifetime membership to the NFIB. As with last year’s award, nine finalists will win a Dell Latitude notebook and a one-year membership to the NFIB.

Last year’s award recipient was Donald A. Gardner Architects, Inc. of Greenville, South Carolina, a successful, family-owned business with 54 employees.

“Having the right technology in place has made all the difference in the success of our company,” said Angela Santerini, the company’s president, in a written statement. “Winning this award from Dell and NFIB has not only allowed us to host our Web site in house and upgrade our operating systems, but also taught us about operational efficiencies and ideas for our continued business growth.”

The contest is open to small business with 100 employees or less. Each company must show how it has used information technology to create change and/or gain a competitive edge in delivering an outstanding customer experience. Applications should include customer case studies. Winners will be announced in mid-September.

You can read about the rules, criteria and regulations — and submit an application — at Dell’s contest site . Don’t procrastinate &#151 you can submit your application online until March 31, 2005 &#151 and there’s no purchase or entry fee required.

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com

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