Last July I received an email to say I had been nominated for a few categories at the Venus Business Awards in Oxfordshire (http://www.venusawards.co.uk/oxfordshire/) – my first reaction was to laugh out loud – why would anyone nominate me? I have a tiny company and, in my mind, of course I wouldn’t win. The judges would be looking for “proper business people” with big businesses…. What would the point be in me entering?
Now all this negativity really isn’t me but I was shocked, and I think being completely honest, a bit scared about being nominated. I’m not the kind of person who feels comfortable standing up and shouting about my achievements – I’m really happy just getting on with the job and making sure my customers are happy with the service I provide and that my suppliers want to work with me. Therefore the thought of entering the awards filled me with dread!
However, I was very grateful that someone had taken the time out of their very busy day to nominate me and I therefore felt it would be rude not to enter at least some of the categories. After reviewing all the categories I narrowed it down in my mind to two lists – the no hope at all, and the very highly unlikely … see that positivity is still reigning!!
I then took the time to compose sensible, composed and well thought out applications and entered 3 categories. Much to my shock, it transpired that I had been shortlisted for the Customer Service Award and the Business Mother Award (I later found out there were about 60 entries in this category!) so I was thrilled. The next stage was an interview for the Customer Service Award – I arrived feeling quietly confident – I know I do a good job, and was excited, although rather nervous to meet the judge – Sam Graham of Thames Security Management (www.thamessecurity.net). I really didn’t know what they would be looking for so although I know I always do my best to ensure customers are happy, and thankfully as I only work with trusted suppliers, issues are few and far between, I didn’t know what to expect. The interview went well, but I left feeling pretty sure the journey would end there… although Sam was welcoming and positive, I realised my “micro business” didn’t have the necessary procedures and structure in place to qualify us for this award.
The Business Mother Award was even more scary as I had to record a one-minute video which would then be posted on YouTube and used in a social media campaign to harvest votes! The three Mum’s with the most votes would go through to the finals! Remember I said I didn’t like standing up and shouting about my achievements? Well stick a video camera in front of me and you can times that scariness by about 1000!!!! I was terrified and couldn’t remember my name without notes by the time it came to recording it!
Thankfully I was able to pin my notes up in front of me so all was OK! I then harvested the power of my fabulous network. I posted the link to the voting page on the Venus Awards website on my social media channels, emailed some customers and suppliers, and hoped!!! There was a little bit of me that started to believe I could get through this stage as I know I have a great network of supportive business contacts and friends.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I was not surprised not to be selected as a finalist in the Customer Service category, but thrilled to not just make it to the finals, but eventually be announced as the winner of the Business Mother Award for Oxfordshire!
From this experience, I learnt a little more about what was expected from business awards so I was much more prepared when another nomination came my way for Inspirational Business Woman at the Banbury Women In Business Awards! I still didn’t think I stood a chance so not much changes, but I was far more prepared when I went for my interview with the sponsors Jamie Briggs Removals & Storage (www.jamiebriggs.co.uk). At the awards lunch in December I was staggered to win!
The whole awards process still scares me, if I am honest I still don’t really feel comfortable entering them, and I’m not sure I will make a habit of it, but my experiences of Business Awards in 2014 were immensely positive! I learned so much including:
- The only time you will definitely not win is if you don’t enter!
- However much you don’t think you are right, the judges may see something in you that you didn’t
- It’s a really good idea to have systems and processes in place, however small your business is – you never know when they may come in handy!
- Always look after your network – you never know when you may need them to help you – ie by voting! I have always tried to share content, vote for people etc as much as possible and I am sure this is partly why so many people voted for me
- Nobody will laugh at you if you enter awards and don’t win – people are really supportive of each other and I have met some really lovely people during this process some of whom are now customers, some friends and some great business associates.
- Awards create amazing PR opportunities – newspapers and trade press love a success story
- Nominate some of the great people you know for awards – they will be incredibly grateful for the huge vote of confidence – I have nominated a number of my business associates for awards since I received my first nomination and it feels great!
I didn’t write this blog to brag, I wrote it to urge you all to look for awards that are aligned with your business – not all will be right for you, but if you find some you like the look of why not enter? What have you got to lose apart from a few hours of your time preparing your entry? You may stand to gain a huge amount!
Ep 125 – Tool of the day is Thunderclap.
If you listen to the audio version of this blog, then you will hear Julia talk about today's tool of the day called Thunderclap. Here is a short video explaining what it is in more detail.