Time running out for The Pitch entries

There's just over a week left for entrepreneurs to get their entries into one of Britain's longest-running small business competition, The Pitch. 

The compeition is the brainchild of our sister sites BusinessZone.co.uk and UK Business Forumsin association with AVG and supported by the ICAEW.uk, Nokiaand Constant Contact.

The annual race for investment has grown from a small Bristol event in 2008 into a national phenomenon that has helped hundreds of small businesses get up and running.

Dan Martin, editor of BusinessZone.co.uk and founder of The Pitch , said the event was the "perfect opportunity" for accountants to help their small business clients enter, and possibly win, the competition. 

"The applications that shine are those that show they understand the numbers and prove there is a market for their business. That’s where accountants come in. Help your clients get it right, get them noticed by The Pitch judges and get a public endorsement of your expertise.

"This is a win-win situation for both accountant and client. ICAEW is a supporter so The Pitch will be of particular interest to ICAEW members who are using them to help spread the word and demonstrate the value of using a professional chartered accountant," he said.

Businesses registered with Companies House and trading for less than three years are eligible to enter. Entrants have until 13 July to complete an online form outlining what their business is and how it works. 

This year, 'Pitch Training' will be on offer before taking to the stage at the final in Bristol. Also for 2014, there will be two business boot camps for the 100 entrepreneurs shortlisted after entries close.

Half of the competitors will attend a boot camp in London on 4 September, and the remaining 50 will attend an event in Manchester on 18 September. During the day, they will receive intensive training in pitching, business planning, creating a business model and digital marketing before pitching on stage for 90 seconds.

From those winners and a financial/marketing plan to be submitted after the event, judges will select 30 small business owners to attend the final on 23 October.

Judges for this year's Pitch include Karen Darby, who has started several businesses including price comparison service Simply Switch which she sold for £25m four years after setting it up; Lara Morgan who grew luxury toiletries brand Pacific Direct into a £20m business and Judith Bitterli; and AVG’s chief marketing officer, who has started and grown three technology companies.

The overall champion will receive a package of support worth thousands of pounds including a year’s free mentoring from serial social entrepreneur and The Pitch judge Karen Darby, online security software from AVG, a Nokia Lumia tablet, free taxi travel, free access for a year to business lounges around the world, web design advice and PR consultancy.

In addition, the ICAEW will offer accountancy advice worth £1,000 to the winner of our 'One to Watch', the category for non-trading businesses. All finalists will have access to investors.

If you've got clients interested in entering, they can do so by visiting www.thepitchuk.com.