Ian Cording, chairman of the Bedfordshire branch of the FSB, declared the awards open for entries at the launch event on Wednesday.
He was joined by an excited gathering of company owners from around the county at Basepoint, in Great Marlings, Luton.
Mr Cording (pictured with 2015 winner Nicola Weeks) said: “It was fantastic to see so many people from around the county represented at the launch. I get a real sense of growing confidence that after a number of tough years, Bedfordshire’s companies are ready to take advantage of a growing economy.
“Awards can provide a fantastic return on investment so we urge everyone to go online and start filling their nomination forms in now.”
Nicola, owner of George James Bridal in Bedford, said: "I was delighted to attend the launch for the FSB Bedfordshire Business Awards 2016. The event is a wonderful opportunity for networking and for promoting your business and the team make the whole process both enjoyable and rewarding.
“Winning Best New Business last year was such an honour and I will be sure to enter in other categories this year".
Fiona McDermott, centre manager for Basepoint Luton, said: “Basepoint Luton has sponsored the FSB Bedfordshire Business Awards for several years and consider it a fantastic opportunity to honour all the hard working people in the Bedfordshire area.
“Each year we see more and more amazing local business people winning awards and we are looking forward to seeing what this year will bring.”
Central Bedfordshire Council is the sponsor of the Enterprising Business award at this year’s FSB Bedfordshire Business awards.
Cllr Nigel Young, executive member for regeneration, said: “There were a number of local award winners from last year’s awards and we were very proud of them. As the sponsor of the Enterprising Business award, we are keen to encourage applications from across Central Bedfordshire, for this and the other awards.
“With innovative SMEs representing over 99% of businesses in Central Bedfordshire, many operating globally and in niche markets, it would be great to see these businesses being recognised and successful entries would reflect the hard work of our businesses and the entrepreneurial nature of the area.
“Ensuring that Central Bedfordshire remains a great place for business and that our communities prosper is a key priority for the council. That’s why our Business Support Team is keen to support and assist more businesses to grow and thrive.”
The competition is free to enter and open to all businesses based in Bedfordshire who commenced business before January 2014 or for new businesses who started after January 2014.
They do not have to be an FSB member to enter but they must be sole traders or have fewer than 250 employees at the time of entering. There are a range of categories to consider.
The Grand Final will be held at Luton Hoo Hotel on July 7.
For more details visit http://www.bedfordshireawards.co.uk/