SIMPLY entering The Hunts Post Huntingdonshire Business Awards - win or lose - can so galvanise a company that it leads to greater success, the awards' overall sponsor believes. St Neots-based chartered accountants Whitmarsh Sterland were the first sponsor when the awards were launched in 1998, and have been behind the Business of the Year ever since. Partner Trevor Crowe said this week: "Entering the awards, whether you win or are short listed as a finalist, can be a significant boost to business. "It is widely acknowledged that the process from putting yourself forward to judging can be beneficial, whether it is just to take time out to reflect on past achievements or to take a look at the business as whole. "Participation can also be a morale boost to staff, with the opportunity for recognition and an association with a successful business. Equally, it can be good news for clients and customers with the chance for existing ones to feel a part of your success and for potential ones to hear about you," he explained. "Another up-side of the awards is the chance for entrants to learn more about the support and advice on offer from organisations like ourselves and that of fellow sponsors. Running any business can be a lonely affair at times, and the awards provide all in business with the chance of learn more about the host of organisations on hand to help you feel less isolated. "We encourage you to enter and look forward to another celebration of local business at the awards dinner in the autumn." Whitmarsh Sterland's services have expanded since the company merged in March with Lincoln-based accountants Streets to form Streets Whitmarsh Sterland, now with offices in St Neots, Newmarket, Cambridge, Peterborough, Lincoln, Grantham, Hull and Retford. The new firm has 21 partners and approaching 200 staff. The merger has pushed the company to 34th in the latest accountancy profession fee-income league table, from Streets' previous ranking of 46th. Chairman and managing partner Paul Tutin believes that the merger will provide clients with an enhanced service provision, with the increased breadth and depth of the combined firm's financial services operation, the expansion of a dedicated tax expertise and the formalisation of a corporate finance team. The merger will also undoubtedly provide personnel at all levels with increased opportunity for career development and progression, including specialisation both in sector work and technical expertise, he adds. Much of the firm's work focuses on supporting businesses in the early stages of starting a business and those looking to grow, many of whom are either potential entrants for The Hunts Post Huntingdonshire Business Awards and\/or have been previous winners or finalists.