Wow, this has taken me a long time to post to my blog! Apologies for that, due to the Covid-19 situation, our lives have been a bit crazy. Anyway, read on to find out more about our whirlwind time at the #SBS Event 2020 in February.
Theo Paphitis, entrepreneur. Star of Dragon’s Den. Lots of people know of Theo, but did they know he really champions small businesses and has done, for the last DECADE?! Theo has run #SBS on Twitter for 10 years and every week he chooses 6 small businesses to be #SBS winners. These winners get retweeted to his 400k followers and they get to go to his annual #SBS Event.
This year, we were lucky to attend the #SBS Event for the first time.
The #SBS Event
The #SBS Event is an event organized by Theo and his team for free! Now, it’s not free because Theo or his sponsors try to sell us things, nor does Theo just put in one appearance. This year, we watched as he oversaw the whole event and was there for the whole day (making sure it ran smoothly, along with his #SBS Crew), as were many of his world class speakers (including fellow Dragon’s Den star Sara Davies MBE, who could be found front row). The event is so useful and really well organised, a day of networking, appointments with professionals, and presentations where you can gain advice and inspiration. As well as a few fun things chucked in too!
The #SBS Event 2020 at Birmingham ICC
Most people have to wait almost a year to go to the #SBS event after they win, but luckily for us, we won only 3 weeks before the event! In fact it was quite a rush trying to get organised to be able to attend! This year’s special 10 year event was happening at the Birmingham ICC and we (my husband Dan was my plus one) managed to stay the night before ready for the early start on the day. We stayed at the Hampton by Hilton Hotel which was a 10 minute walk from the ICC, it was comfortable and included a hot breakfast which hugely appreciated! Would highly recommend staying there.
After picking up our lanyards, we found ourselves in the main area. Lots of stalls were set up around the edge of the room, sponsors like Ryman, iLaw, DHL, Autumn Fair, Robert Dyas, Western Union and Natwest. Up in the mezzanines, breakout presentations were happening, from Autumn Fair to fellow #SBS winners The Charlalas. We intended to attend the presentations and planned which ones we would go to, but as it was our first time, we got a little busy networking and missed some of the starting times for them.
One thing we really enjoyed, was the events happening around the auditorium, which included being photographed for professional head shots, and a 360 photo booth from Scene My Event.
The Event Starts!
So then, it was time to sit down for the event to begin. There was a really lovely SBS notebook on each chair which was a great soverneir.
Winning tweets cycled on the big screen while we waited for Kypros Kyprianou (Group CEO of the Theo Paphitis Retail Group) to open the event. There was a song from fellow #SBS winner The Charlalas and then Theo took to the stage.
Theo gave us some #SBS statistics, which were amazing and made us feel great!
-over 400,000 businesses applied, but only 3000 winners. That’s only 1% of business become winners!
-75% of #SBS winners were female, which is surprising because only 34% of small businesses are run by women.
-52% are sole traders
There were then the following speakers (who were amazing!)
Google Digital Garage: Priya Chauhan. Priya was full of really good advice on how to be seen on Google.
Natwest: Darren Pirie spoke about how Natwest champion small businesses and their entrepeneurial programs.
Mind: Faye McGuiness spoke about mental wellbeing in the workplace. This was an eye opener. My favourite part was when Faye said if we do 2/5 of the following things each week, it will help to improve our mental health: Give, Keep learning, Be active, Take notice, Connect.
LinkedIn: Charlottes Davies talked about how to utilise LinkedIn for businesses. My favourite nugget of information from her presentation was that every day we scroll through 96 m of content every day!
Fireside Chat with Sara Davies MBE
The absolute highlight for me was the fireside chat between Theo and fellow Dragon’s Den star, the amazing Sara Davies MBE.
A little background for those of you not familiar with her. Sara is only 34 (the youngest ever dragon on Dragon’s Den). She invented a tool called the ‘Enveloper’ and set up her own business (Crafter’s Companion) when she was 19, and still at university. When she graduated, her company was turning over £500k!
The fireside chat was informal, Sara was honest and so open with all her experiences and advice for fellow businesses.
My favourite parts were when Sara talked about her family. Sara’s parents owned a hardware shop when she was growing up and she talked about how her parents were amazing role models. Sara described how she just wanted to be a role model to her two children like her parents were and to recreate the happy childhood she had for her own children. This really struck a chord with me- I set my business up to be flexible around my family and to be a role model to my 3 young daughters. Running a business and trying to be a Mum can be a tough job, and something I am always trying to balance. Sara outlined how she compartmentalises the different parts of her life. If she is with her children, she is there 100%. If she is working, she is there 100%. She also highlighted how important it is not to chastise yourself if you miss something, and to focus on the positives.
She outlined her legal battle with Helix (they tried to copy one of her products!). Quite rightly, she won that battle and it paid off but she told us that it taught her not to make decisions based on emotion, and that she could have lost everything, had it not gone her way.
Sara was very humble, very down to earth and her values and advice were just so easy to relate to. An inspiration! Theo was also fantastic during the fireside chat. He has a great sense of humour, there was a great rapport and it was apparent that these two were great friends.
A photo with Theo
As it was our first time attending the #SBS Event, it meant that I had to collect our certificate and have my picture taken with Theo Paphitis! I was equally nervous and excited about this part! I shouldn’t have been, he was warm and friendly.
For all my fellow small businesses who are not yet #SBS winners, make sure you do the following:
-Follow @TheoPaphitis on Twitter
-Tweet about your business between 5.30pm-7.30pm on a Sunday
-Having a website helps!
-Use the hashtag #SBS
-Only tweet once every week
-Use the opportunity to connect and interact with other small businesses! Even if you don’t win, you will find other small businesses to connect with and this is such a win, win! Even now, after winning, I go through all the tweets on a Sunday and try to connect with many of them. They are talented, they are driven and I try to support as many as I can as I believe in sticking together!
I want as many of you as possible to enter #SBS because the support I have received from the #SBS community has been really motivating. As you can see from this post, the #SBS Event 2020 was an amazing event to attend. I came away from the event feeling inspired, empowered and with an amazing goody bag too. To all my fellow #SBS winners, hopefully see you again next year!