Somerset based business woman Karen Mitchell shares some exceptional advice on how to get your small business seen, loved, award winning and selling no matter what. Grab pen and paper, take notes and we can help you with everything Karen lists, so you too can;
- Write exceptional award applications.
- Get in the press for free – writing first class press releases with the tricks that get you published.
- Define your USP and communicate it powerfully.
- Define your brand.
- Tell your story.
- How to carry out market research and take advantage of trends.
- Understand Imposter syndrome. It’s good, bad and ugly – yes there’s some good to that Imposter Syndrome!
- Grow your self belief and the business growth mindset that is imperative to success. We build confidence to take on new opportunities and challenges, very fast!
- How to go BIG!
- Business plan – the Quit the day job course has a 13 page module that is loved by everyone from sole traders and teachers, to large businesses that have been trading for 30 years. It’s so powerful.
It’s a great read, congratulations Karen!
If you told me when I welcomed the first glampers to Esme’s Escape, my brand new ‘luxury shepherd’s hut,’ on Christmas Eve 2017 that 5 years later it would receive its 10th award, I wouldn’t have believed you.
I did have a strong belief that the business model would work even though it didn’t fit the stereotypical ‘off grid, remote location, walk to the composting loo’ model. It’s in a village (foodie pub within 5 minutes’ walk) with all mod cons and en-suite facilities. Understanding that some like an experiential staycation that didn’t compromise on their comfort meant I knew I had a strong Unique Selling Point, in fact, I had two as this Shepherd’s hut was inspired by a 1940s love story. It’s named after the heroine and decorated with WWII memorabilia providing a nostalgic atmosphere.
I had a strong brand and knew I needed to build brand awareness to encourage my consumers up the loyalty ladder from prospect though to customer, from which I felt confident they would mature into advocates. Receiving external accolades from industry awarding bodies it the ultimate endorsement, who doesn’t feel reassured by the words ‘award winning business’?
Research. I was following another shepherd’s hut business online, saw them receiving awards and asked a mutual acquaintance, ‘How does she do it?’ his reply was simple ‘just apply or nominate yourself’. Lightbulb moment!
Go for it! I cut my teeth on Muddy Stilettoes Somerset. It’s a two stage process; You nominate yourself, select an appropriate category, for me ‘boutique stay’ and set up a campaign encouraging your customers, followers and friends to nominate you as well. It’s purely a numbers game, if you get enough votes you’ll get through to the Finalist stage whereupon you repeat the process. Lo and behold Esme’s Escape came up top trumps! I was hooked. Imposter syndrome did feature though.
Go big! My next was a considerably more involved process. This time I went for a tourism industry award, specifically our county’s Tourism Award for the Glamping Accommodation of the year, while I was in the process I noted a ‘New Tourism Business’ category for those under 3 years so went for that too. In for a penny and all that.
Planning. I had no idea what to expect and found myself answering a number of searching questions about my business, if I hadn’t already written a business plan these would help me think about who were my target audience, why they’d choose to stay at my Shepherd’s Hut, what measures I’d use to gauge my success going forward. They wanted background information which wasn’t scored as well as evidence of your reviews.
Here are some examples of their questions:
- Tell us about up to five ways in which you have developed your business and/or improved the customer experience over the last two years (300 words maximum).
- Tell us about up to five ways in which your business is impressive compared to your competitors (300 words maximum).
- Thinking of how you measure success, tell us about three successes from the last year (300 words maximum).
Insider knowledge! The judges (I found out later) were previous award winners, they went through each entry and shortlisted the highest scoring for round 2 of the process, a visit. Both my entries got through to stage 2. The ‘Glamping’ judge came to stay overnight, and the ‘New Business’ judge visited and quizzed me on my numbers among other things, think a friendly, softer version of Dragons Den. I used the opportunity to ask my own questions about the process, one of the judges told me that although it says ‘Up To 5 ways’ if the entrant had stopped at 3 or 4 she eliminated them ‘if they can’t be bothered, neither can I’.
I won Silver in both categories, AND was successful in becoming a finalist in the South West Tourism Awards for the Glamping category, this time a Bronze winner, an award all the same in the most prolific tourism area in the country. What an honour. Being compared directly with others in my niche and coming out with 3 awards was simply incredible. The best was yet to come in the form of feedback on each answer (they said such lovely things as well as a few constructive pointers) along with judges’ comments ‘Luxury that leaves you feeling totally spoilt’ and ‘Really different from anything else, very impressive’ which I still have on my home page of my website.
This particular awarding body suggests any business which has won in two years stands aside and allows other businesses their opportunity to shine and so gave it one last shot the following year when I won Gold and Silver for ‘Glamping’ and ‘Responsible, Ethical, Environmental & Sustainable’ categories respectively.
The best bit about winning awards for us small business owners? I won’t bore you with details of all the others however I will add that from my perspective once you get to a ‘multi award winning’ level some awarding bodies seek you out. More opportunities to shout ‘I’ve got an award!’ and for our endorsers to celebrate and share our success, my awards announcements on social media generate the biggest engagement. What’s not to like?