The first South London Business Awards were launched in Croydon last week.

The awards, sponsored by the Croydon Guardian, include best company, small business, new business, customer service and, excellence in training and development.

Those who attended the launch in High Street bar Tiger Tiger heard about award-winning businessman Marc Koska and were told what the judges are looking for.

Marc said: "Winning awards pushes your company up one more rung of the ladder in the public's perception. This is vital to gain the edge in any industry but also has benefits in the preparation and winning of the award, in terms of team morale and confidence. There is nothing wrong with aiming high."

There are eight categories in the awards: south London company of the year, small business award, businessperson of the year, customer service award, innovation in business, excellence in training and development, best new business award and a marketing award.

The closing date for entries is February 23, 2007. The judges will then draw up a shortlist for each category and visit the chosen businesses.

The winners will be announced in May 2007 at an awards ceremony and dinner held at Crystal Palace Football Club.

Organisers said winners could look forward to media coverage and the enhanced staff motivation that comes from working for an award-winning organisation.

To find out more visit the website