MORE than 100 people attended the launch of the 2016 Dorset Business Awards and heard an appeal to “take your business on that journey”.

The awards were launched at the Italian Villa, at Poole’s Compton Acres, in an event sponsored by Breeze Volkswagen.

Ian Girling, chief executive of Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “This is our 22nd year of the awards and they continue to grow bigger and stronger and really are a fantastic celebration of businesses and the creativity and entrepreneurism of the whole of the county.”

He said this year’s awards ceremony in November could be even bigger than last year’s, which attracted 800 people to the BIC.

The awards are backed by the Daily Echo and Dorset Echo and by Wave 105.

Guests at yesterday’s event heard Jason Gault of last year’s Company of the Year, TeamJob, talk about the effect entering the awards had on his business. His company entered in three categories in its first year without reaching the finals, but won the next year.

He said: “The most important decision we made as a business was to get the whole business on that journey.”

He said the business had asked to see a copy of the judges’ feedback after its first attempt.

“Feedback was crucial. It highlighted a couple of areas which we weren’t bad at but which just weren’t quite as good as some other business that had gone through this that year,” he added.

Justin Cohen of host the Italian Villa said he had seen the way winning the awards had changed businesses. “You only have to look at the way people treat the PR from those awards. It does so much for the local business community,” he said.

Hooshiar Mires, operations director of news sponsor UK Health Insurance, said the awards encouraged networking and doing business locally.

“There’s always something to be said for doing business locally,” he said.

“We believe there are many benefits to trying to work more within the local area and we have so many businesses in Dorset that there are few reasons why you can’t source from within Dorset.”

There are three new awards categories this year: the Creative and Digital Impact Award, the Emerging Business Award and the Investing in Dorset Area.

This year’s awards also welcome four new sponsors, TeamJobs, the Training Room, the Arts University Bournemouth and UK Health Insurance.

Guests were urged to use the social media hashtag #dorsetbizawards

Businesses have until September 9 to submit their entries for the awards. Entry is free and details are at

Details of all 11 categories will be in the Daily Echo’s business pages on Tuesday, June 20.