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Read on to find out what happened at the event, how you can enter and win and also some exciting #sbs news!
What is #SBS?
A quick explanation: #SBS stands for Small Business Sunday. It is used as a hashtag on Twitter – #SBS
It was created by Theo Paphitis in October 2010 on Twitter. Theo is best known for appearing on Dragons’ Den on the BBC. His business portfolio spans retail, property and finance and he’s also Chancellor of Southampton Solent University. Theo also does a lot of charity work.
Theo is a champion for small businesses. Every week he selects 6 small businesses from thousands of entries. Some people have been trying for years to be selected as an #sbs winner!
The Event 2022
This blog is an overview of my first attendance at an SBS event. I hope it gives you an insight into the day and helps any future winners prepare themselves and be armed with more information than I had!
The time to attend the event and collect my certificate finally arrived! I won in March 2020 (right on the first national lockdown!) and there is usually an event once a year, but due to the Coronavirus Pandemic it was put on hold.
The SBS winners event was held at the ICC in Birmingham, a great location with lots of hotels on the doorstep. We decided to make a mini break of it and booked in to stay the night before, so there was no rushing around in the morning. We stayed at the Hampton by Hilton which was cheap and cheerful but included breakfast and the all-important parking was available for an extra fee.
We set off from Southampton at around 11am on Thursday 25th February and arrived at 4pm. It was not a pleasant drive! We had snow, big hail, rain, sunshine, wind…and sadly 4 accidents to get through. It took 1.5 hours just to get past Winchester! Next time I’m definitely getting the train! Anyway, we finally arrived and checked in. We had a lovely view from the 12th floor. We freshened up and got something to eat and then met a group from The British Craft House for a drink. It was lovely to meet some fellow winners before the event. I was really tired after the drive, having not driven that long or far for years, so we called it a night and went back to the hotel.
The day of the event arrived (Friday 25th February 2022), and we took a short walk to the ICC where we made use of the free cloakroom, registered and picked up our lanyards, programmes and covid wristbands. Everyone had to take an LFT before the event and provide evidence before entry.
It was quite overwhelming being in a large room of people after so long but everything was well spaced out and there were plenty of seats with gaps away from others.
Inside the room there was beautiful live music from Capriccio Quartet, coffee, tea, water, orange and apple juice plus some pastries, muffins and fruit…we were spoiled!
There were networking areas with coloured balloons signifying each industry sector:
- Orange:Business Services, Finance & Legal
- Green: Home, Garden, Games & Pets
- Caribbean Blue: Computer, Internet, Technology & Social Media
- Red: Creative, Design, Beauty & Fashion
- Pink: Education, Children & Community
- Lime Green: Lifestyle, Health & Fitness
- Dark Blue: Food, Drink, Entertainment & Events
- Yellow: Commercial, Industrial & Automotive
- Purple: Shopping & Gifting
- Coral: Travel & Tourism
So you can see pretty much most industries are covered!
There was a Photo Zone where you could get a professional headshot taken for FREE, Sponsor stands from NatWest, Robert Dyas, Ryman, Western Union, HP, sumup, Autumn Fair, iLaw and DHL and a brilliant 360 video experience from Exceed Events who are also SBS winners!
The main event opened with Kypros Kyprianou CEO of the Theo Paphitis Retail Group. He went through the itinerary for the day, brought some energy to the room and cracked some jokes.
- Registration & Refreshments – Networking – Meet the Expert Sessions – Breakout Sessions
- Kypros Kyprianou opens the event
- Theo Paphitis on stage
- Rachel Watkyn on stage
- Comfort Break
- Debbie Lewis from Natwest on mindset
- Lunch – Networking – Meet the Expert Sessions – Breakout Sessions
- Theo’s fireside chat with Touker Suleyman – Questions & Answers
- Certificate collection and photo opportunity – Networking – Meet the Expert Sessions – Breakout Sessions
- Event Close.
Then the main man himself came onto the stage to rapturous applause.
Theo spoke for around 40 minutes and was full of information and inspiration!
He went through some stats from a survey we were asked to complete before the event. Did you know only 0.8% of businessess who enter SBS are winners?
The theme of the day was optimism with a healthy dose of reality.
He told us “You cannot achieve without a dream…but you also need to be willing to put in the heavy lifting”. Which sounds simple but is more complex in real life and definitely wise words!
“Don’t let something you have no influence over keep you awake at night. Focus on what you can control”.
I definitely need to take heed of this one. I allow myself to worry about all sorts of things that are totally out of my control. It’s human nature to worry sometimes but taken to the extreme, it’s not a great pace to be.
“CASHFLOW is everything!” Don’t be over-optimistic about cash flow. Be cautious and allow a margin of error. A business without cashflow is going to find it much tougher.
On outsourcing/recruiting: Ask yourself –
Will I be looking over their shoulder, checking up on them? How will they add value to my business? Will it release me from tasks and how many hours will it free up? What will I do with those hours?
He gave us news about competitions and awards:
Spring Fair 2023, held in Birmingham at the NEC on 5-8th February 2023.
Taken from Spring Fair website:
We’re the UK’s most vibrant marketplace for wholesale home, gift and fashion. As the definitive “shop for shops”, we support the retail industry like no other. Our live event is held at the NEC Birmingham in February across four days, designed around three key buying destinations – Home, Gift and Moda Fashion.
Spring Fair is where best sellers are found, relationships are forged and curiosity is piqued. Imagine a treasure trove of new ideas and new trends just waiting to be discovered and displayed in your shop or showroom. If you want to touch, feel and experience what’s new and innovative across the home, gift and fashion retail industry – Spring Fair is the marketplace for you.
There are 12 stands to be won for #sbs winners! It’s a huge opportunity and Theo encouraged everyone to enter.
And finally, something exciting is coming to SBS on 16th March! I wonder what it could be?!
After Theo we heard from Rachel Watkyn, MD of the Tiny Box Company (where incidentally I buy my gift boxes from!)
Rachel told her story of how she kind of accidentally came to appear on Dragon’s Den (including bad hair days) and got investment and she spoke of her journey through business from the beginning until now which hasn’t been plain sailing! She has overcome some serious knockbacks including a fire at a warehouse, a flood at another warehouse, being blacklisted on Google and other incidents. She also said she was affected by Imposter Syndrome (which many small business owners are) and her best advice was to reach out for help. There will be someone there when you need it the most.
Rachel has set up a business advice clinic – Tiny Clinic – where she offers a free 30 minute zoom session to advise in any way she can. There is a form you can complete on her website here or you can read past blog posts for general advice.
What a fabulous resource!
Then we moved on to Debbie Lewis from NatWest who talked to us about the power of mindset and how we can change our perceptions and mindset to help our businesses. Debbie talked about Fixed and Growth mindsets and there was also an opportunity to enter a competition to win a 1-2-1 coaching session. She also talked about the NatWest Accelerator programme which “supports and empowers UK entrepreneurs to scale their businesses to the next level.”
It is free and you don’t even have to be a NatWest customer to access the programme!
It was lunchtime next and there were opportunities for networking, Meet the Expert sessions and Breakout Presentations – I didn’t attend as the event was my 1st one so wasn’t sure what to expect but I’ll be sure to book onto some next time.
Theo’s Fireside Chat with Touker Suleyman
Touker is also known as a dragon on BBC’s Dragon’s Den. He told us of his business and personal history, beginning from when he suffered a serious hand infection aged 10 that resulted in him missing a year of school and was at risk of an amputation of his left hand.
He started his retail career at the age of 18 and spoke about his history and failed business, losing his home and starting over. He warned to never put your house up as collateral and ALWAYS do your homework and due diligence. He said to always be honest if you’re struggling – talk to your bank, investors, landlord – they will try to help.
He said to never give up and always follow your passion! Wise words indeed.
Lastly came the time for goody bag and certificate collection and a photo with Theo, for the 1st time winners at the event.
The queue was pretty long but it went down quite quickly. Theo was so lovely and although it went really quickly, I’ll remember it forever. I felt so proud standing there with him. That he picked me and my business was just so overwhelming!
He doesn’t have to do this, he chooses to and that’s what makes it all the more special.
Throughout the day all the winning tweets were shown on the big screen, along with tweets from the day. I managed to capture mine!
It was an incredible experience and so very well planned. Huge thanks to Theo. The SBS Crew and the sponsors. It is now Tuesday and I’m still buzzing from the event! The inspiration and confidence it has given me is immeasurable.
I am very passionate about what I do but it sometimes gets a bit lost when I get overwhelmed with what I think I should be doing, my lack of confidence and the hangups I have about myself!
The whole day gave me a kick up the bum and I haven’t felt this optimistic for a while.
I was brave, I met new people, I wore a dress and felt good (which very rarely happens), I had a video and photos taken and I felt like me again, for the first time in a long time!
My passion never left, it just got hidden under layers of crap… Those layers are coming off!
Yes I’m fatter than I’d like to be, yes I have a million hangups about myself but it’s time to stop hiding and diminishing myself and my achievements.
So, how do YOU enter and hopefully win?
Taken from https://theopaphitissbs.com/about
Each week, Theo rewards small businesses that tweet him @TheoPaphitis and describe their businesses in one tweet including the all-important hashtag #SBS. Only tweets made in the time slot between 5.00 PM and 7.30 PM each Sunday count.
Every Monday night at 8pm, Theo reviews and chooses his favourite lucky six who are then re-tweeted. As he has around 500k followers, this provides a massive boost to the chosen lucky businesses.
The benefits range from increased Twitter followers, to positive media publicity and crucially for many, increased sales! Of course, none of this is guaranteed as it is largely down to perseverance and hard work. A smidgen of luck comes in handy.
From 6 March you can enter SBS via Instagram! More details will be added once the info is live.
What do you get if you win?!
- You become part of the #sbs family!
- Your business gets a ReTweet to Theo’s half a million Twitter followers
- Your own profile on the SBS website
- Access to a closed Facebook group and the chance to meet like-minded businesses.
- Your own official #SBS Winner badge to display on social media, marketing materials, website etc.
- A press release template for you to tailor to your specific needs
- You are invited to receive your certificate from Theo himself at the annual SBS Event.
My tips for Tweeting Theo:
Try to enter each week because regardless of whether you win, huge quantities of Twitter users follow and engage with #sbs and each other, so it’s a great opportunity to showcase your business where thousands of other Twitter users are looking!
- Show your passion! We all go through tough times but reframe it: What have you done to adapt? How have you overcome something within your business? What is your passion?
- Add the day and time to your calendar with a notification. It’s easy to lose track of the days! – Tweet on a Sunday between 5.00-7.30 PM.
- I mixed it up. Sometimes I replied to his Tweet announcing #SBS was open, other times I tweeted mentioning him and the hashtag #sbs.
- Each week I was honest, open and used the opportunity to showcase my work through photos.
- Tweet only once per week.
- Interact with other participants/businesses. I often wished others Good Luck or retweeted their tweets,
- Congratulate the winners each week when they’re announced. This helps to build your following too.
- Keep going and enjoy it. Think of it as a way to let everyone, not just Theo, know about your amazing business.
- Add a link, photo or web address in your tweet.
- If you are not chosen, try again next week. And keep trying!
All the rules to enter can be found here.
I wish you much luck! x