We love your good news so when we heard that Isobel Chaplin who set up her business 18 months ago had won her first award on top of having a record breaking profits year we were over the moon to share her article about her growing business and her first award.
Winning awards is a great way to understand your business, how it is percieved and get some free press to celebrate your business and stand you a part from your competitors. Don’t just put your award on your social media and hope it will bring in customers, it won’t!
Isobel works with our Founder Mandie Holgate as her coach and here Isobel shares how it feels to win that first award for her new business;
“My coach reminded me that I should be shouting from the rooftops about my SME News UK Enterprise Award. It’s not something I feel comfortable doing so Mandie Holgate sat and interviewed me because we really should celebrate our wins, shouldn’t we?
As small business owners we work so hard and I’m not sure enough of us take time to celebrate, so thanks to Mandie, here I will share my win. Let me know what you think.
Q: What made you enter the awards?The entry came as a complete surprise. I received an email from SME News to inform me that IJC Finance had been nominated as the Best Emerging SME Accountancy Practice for Essex AND for a Distinction Award for Customer Service Excellence, and I was shocked to be honest. In a good way, of course! I had seen the awards advertised but hadn’t dreamt of entering because of the business being quite young and I wasn’t sure we’d been seen to have enough experience. I think it’s great they have awards for all types of businesses, no matter whether in their infancy or if well established.
Q: How did you feel when you realised you were a finalist?I was told we’d been shortlisted but didn’t expect any more to come of it. This was a typical “Isobel” thought process at the time – I’m quite humble and didn’t think any more of it!
Q: In true Oscars or Miss World style “What does winning mean to you?”It’s given me a real boost in confidence. I think all business owners have moments where they think “can I really do this?”, no matter how long they’ve been in the game, and receiving the nomination and then the award has cemented my self-belief. It’s given me the push to enter more awards of my own volition. You have to be in it to win it so they say, and if anything it’s given me an opportunity to explore the business’ strengths and weaknesses in more depth.
Q: How do you feel this reflects on your business ambitions?My mission has always been to offer a personable and reliable service to small businesses so they feel valued and not just a number (that’s almost a tagline now). Being presented with an award as the Best Emerging SME Accountancy Practice of our region is a fantastic achievement for us, given that we had only been properly up and running for 18 months when the award came through. Also triumphing with a Distinction Award for Client Service Excellence shows me that we are surpassing the standards we set for customer care, which is one of our focuses for continual improvement, and the award helps us to stand out compared to our competitors.
Q: What do you feel it does for your clients?I like to think that our clients are cheering with us about this award. We’ve received a lot of positive feedback and congratulations, and the recognition has helped showcase our standing in the local accounting community as well. Showing potential clients that we have what it takes to meet their needs, and that we were even nominated let alone won the award, is also great for advertising. I think it gives our clients the reassurance that they are in safe hands.
Q: What would you say to someone thinking of entering an award for their business? What should they consider?Do it! Since winning the award we have entered more national and local awards, not necessarily with the expectation of winning, but in just writing our entries it has provided moments when have sat and thought about all the wonderful things we do that we are proud of. That’s something that business owners’ don’t normally do; we are often very critical of ourselves, so doing an exercise on shouting about how great we are has so many positives!”
We are so excited for Isobel who is an active member of our networking events and our mastermind group. If you would like support to grow your business as an Insider and member you can also share your good news, insights, advice and ideas in our blog for free!
Isobel is such a valued member of our mastermind group the Insiders Isobel will be speaking for us at our July event. We look forward to welcoming you too.
So, you’re new to running your business. Or perhaps you’ve been doing it a while and you’re not happy with the way you’ve been dealing with (or perhaps, not dealing with, as the case may be) the business’ finances. I think it’s important to start off any business ventures well organised and having thought through how you’re going to keep track of everything you’re doing in a monetary sense. It sounds obvious, I know, but so many business owners are perhaps a little afraid to face the finances as it all seems a bit daunting. By making sure you have set yourself a few rules to get going, it doesn’t have to be too complicated or time consuming. Step 1 Make sure you have a separate business bank account set up for all your business transactions. For limited companies it’s a mandatory requirement, so it’s one of the first things you should do once you’ve got your business registered with Companies House. Some formation companies even tag on the bank account as part of the process. Although it’s not a deal-breaking requirement for sole traders, it’s something I’d strongly recommend. If thinking about your tax return is a daunting prospect, then having all your transactions on one place makes….
I often get asked by business owners whether they should trade as a sole trader or under a limited company. It’s a decision that’s sometimes simple to make, but there are pros and cons to be considered and you may find that after some thought one style suits your business better. I will explain more on the key differences below and offer some food for thought…
I’ve thought often about writing this article, and always shied away from being a bit controversial. (If you read my articles before either here or on www.mandieholgate.co.uk you will know I tend to be about empowering, sharing top tips to make life, business, success and confidence just that be easier.) However I felt that I’d seen this happening too many times not to say something.
And the reason I say something now is because I can’t believe something that I thought was a given, an obvious expected standard, just doesn’t always exist, and not only is it not particularly pleasant to work in that environment, if you are doing this, then you could be damaging your success too! (So this article does come back to what I normally write about after all!)
The more I get asked to speak at events the more I naturally end up attending a variety of events aimed at personal and professional development and business success. And whether I’m attending a local business show a national one or a special all day event it really shocks me how many people that just don’t turn up!
What’s the big deal you say? It’s a free event, there’s no cost, so?
The big deal is that I personally think it impacts on your professional brand and what people think of you.
Think about it. You posted all over social media you were attending. You said you will be there. And then something came up, right? No big deal. But although there’s 500 – 2000 people at that event and you figure no one will miss you right?
They will, because there in reception when we all arrive is your lanyard with your name and business on, and then at the end of the day its still there!
Sorry did something better come up than what you thought was going to be an awesome day?
A client maybe?
I have a real issue with this, because firstly it shows a high level of disrespect to the organisers. It may seem like just a lanyard to you, but it’s not for the organisers. An organiser of an event need to ensure for every name that turns up there is adequate parking, adequate refreshments, adequate seating, someone has to take the time to print off and make your lanyard. As the numbers for the event increases the organisers think “wowsers we’ve got xxxx people booked for this, we should slow down on marketing, we may have to turn people away, our maximum capacity for safety is xxxx” So you greatly impact on the organisers.
Secondly if you’ve posted you are attending and don’t show, what does that say to those that do turn up? Is it a bad event we shouldn’t be at? Have we wasted our time? It can create unease in the delegates (I do not jest! I’ve seen it across social media damaging the reputation of events for years to come!)
More worryingly those that do turn up know who hasn’t arrived and think “Do they ever turn up to what they say they will?” What does that say about you, your professionalism and your business?
Can someone be trusted if they can’t even turn up to what they say they are going to?
Can they not organise their time to be able to have a day out of the office?
If you don’t know if you will be too pressurised to attend then don’t fill in the form saying you are going. Leave your status as interested.
And if you worry about giving up a day to this event top tips here are our top tips to get the most out of your day and double the usages of your time;
Tell everyone you are attending. This is good for the organiser (you are promoting their event. This may seem like its non beneficial to you, however getting yourself known for all the right reasons is a good way to get remembered. And remember in business its about the quality of relationships you build). By telling everyone you are attending before you even arrive you are getting to digitally network with potential customers and opportunities. It’s a great way to create brand awareness with very little effort.
Organise meetings and 1 2 1’s at the event. We all appreciate the need to know other people, and build good relationships however ultimately sorry to get tough here, those meetings quite from day one don’t always deliver business, and if you are very busy it can be very enticing to not bother with them. If you have been building rapport and getting to know people online, a big event is a great opportunity to spare half an hour and extend that potential opportunity. (And word of caution here, that’s build opportunity for them too, not just you!)
Talk about the event in the run up to the event. This is a great way to get you and your business known before you even walk through the door. There will be companies that can’t make the day, however if you have talked about the event in your own marketing, at events you are attending and to your current customers then you are helping to raise awareness of the calibre of events you attend and how your business is operated. People like professionalism. And to feel that they can trust and know the businesses that they work with. This helps.
Power up your PR! When it comes to trade press and relevant publications to your business, talking about the events you are involved with can be a great way to get your business seen for the right reasons, and raise your name above your competitors. Just remember if your attendtion is to send in a press release saying “SL Products attended this expo” the journalist is likely to say “big deal!” on the other hand if you are saying that your company was awarded the only trade stand for your industry at a UK wide event with over 200 exhibitors for the third year running. That says something about your company doesn’t it?
Don’t create a headache afterwards. One of the reasons people don’t turn up to events I feel is because they worry about the follow up and additional work load that it can create afterwards. Firstly reframe the way you word this. Instead of saying “I’m going to need at least 4 hours to process that event to get maximum benefit from that day and justify the costs.” Reframe this to; “In one day I will be able to generate enough leads to grow our business as planned this quarter, which could substantially reduce my marketing requirements this month and thus further increase our sales this year.” Your mind will happily create belief in what you say. So if you assume it’s going to be hard work, increase your work load and be a hassle enducing process, get what you are going to get? On the day ensure you are getting potential time wasters (you know the types, I call them Likers. They like everything you do, but are never going to follow up, get involved, support you or buy from you. They just take everyone’s freebies and tell everyone about their business and clear off!) So get the time wasters to do the work, ie “That sounds interesting, if you email/phone me next week when I’m back in the office we can investigate that in more detail.” It’s a great way of finding out who is there to do business and who is there to restock their stationery cupboard.
If a conversation is going really well, don’t leave it to the following day (when let’s be honest you are still exhausted from the show!) to get in touch, get it sorted there and then. Have your diary it and show your intent. “That’s great, lets Skype and move this along”. If you want something don’t hang about. There are so many opportunities and so many people talking at an event, you can find that in 2 days time your conversation is getting lost in their minds to a bucket load of work. Don’t let that happen by sorting things on the day.
Create a structure to how you process events. By doing this, you can learn the science of what works for you. Trial different things, until you find a style that works for you. Time how long it takes to process it. This is a great way for you Procrastinators to see an end to the job. Procrastinators stop procrastinating when they can see it’s not as hard, scary or boring as they thought it was going to be. So think about the results you want and how fast you can process it!
I hope you have found this a useful addition to your learning over here on the Insiders and if you have comments and ideas to share, please do! You know the Insiders is awesome because of you, your views, ideas and support for each others success. Awesome isn’t it?