How winning the #SBS award was the perfect ending to a challenging year

I’m now in my 7th year as the owner of Banks’ Business Solutions and I know just how important recognition and reputation is in a crowded marketplace of other business owners and freelancers offering similar services as myself.

So, I was absolutely delighted to hear that Theo Paphitis picked me as a #SBS award winner last week. It’s one of those small business awards that packs a punch in being recognised as good at what you do and bringing a wealth of benefits with it too.

In this blog, I want to delve a little more into what this award means to me and my business, why it’s a great ending to a challenging year, and give you some tips on how you can enter and win the award for yourself!

2020 was a challenging year for me on several levels

As a business owner, the uncertainty that came with lockdown and tier restrictions had a direct impact on how I could manage my business. Not just the reduction in demand and loss of clients due to their difficulties with lockdown, but having to fit my work around homeschooling, the lines between “home time” and “work time” being increasingly blurry, and the lack of information and support available as a business owner.

But I also struggled on a more personal level too. I’m open about my struggles with anxiety and depression and created a few videos about them for Mental Health Awareness week last year. Getting out and about outdoors and visiting my favourite locations for mini-breaks often are how I manage my mental health, and when those options were taken away from me I found that the anxiety and depression came flooding back again.

I have sought help and support and I’m now managing to keep on top of my mental health although it’s hard at times, and I would urge you if you’re reading this and feel mentally low, drained, or anxious to seek support too. And, thankfully, my business is still going strong despite the challenges 2020 has thrown at me. Although we’re not out of the woods yet, I do feel optimistic about the future, and winning the #SBS award has boosted that to new and exciting levels!

What is the #SBS award and what does it mean for my business?

Standing for ‘Small Business Sunday’, #SBS is the hashtag used to enter this Twitter-based competition on a Sunday evening. It was created by Dragon’s Den star and business empire owner Theo Paphitis to recognise the efforts and successes of small business owners like myself.

To enter the competition, you simply tweet about what you do/your business using the #SBS hashtag on a Sunday between 5 pm and 7.30 pm. While it’s simple enough to enter it’s trickier to win. Theo personally picks the tweets that he feels are the best to win each Sunday and it can take a long time to be picked. I’d been entering successfully for several years before Theo decided to pick me!

My winning tweet was:

How winning the #SBS award was the perfect ending to a challenging year

Do I know why that tweet was successful when the others hadn’t been? No. Maybe it was the accompanying picture that drew attention or maybe because GDPR is at the forefront of many business-owning minds right now due to Brexit.

But I did win, and that means I’m now a member of the exclusive and highly coveted Small Business Sunday winners club. It’s where like minds can network and share benefits with each other, often including special offers from other winners and Theo Paphitis’ companies such as Ryman.

Tips for winning the SBS award and being a successful business owner

Reputation counts for a lot when you’re a business owner, so I believe the tips for winning the #SBS award are the same as proving yourself to be a credible business owner on Twitter and other social media platforms.

Show up consistently

Even though it took several years to win the award and I felt like not entering on several occasions, it was consistency that won through in the end. Your tweet could be picked by Theo for any number of reasons so showing up each Sunday is important. And it’s the same for your business too – consistently being present online and sharing what you’re about and what you have to offer is important in winning new customers and improving your reputation.

Check your spelling and grammar

We all make mistakes from time to time when it comes to spelling and grammar but mistakes can give the impression that you don’t care enough about things to get them right. Double-check things before you post, use spell checking tools and if in doubt, rewrite!

Have a functional website

Theo himself suggests this as a tip for successfully winning the competition, and I definitely agree. Twitter and social media, in general, are great at sharing what you do and getting seen by others, but the proof of the pudding is found on your website.

It’s your copy and content on the website, the blogs and testimonials, and seeing the services you have to offer directly that converts those social media fans into paying customers (and convinces Theo that you’re good enough to win too!).

Don’t give up!

When you’re rejected week after week it can be hard to keep going. Your mental health can start to struggle and on top of other things, it can seem like the effort just isn’t worth it. But negativity attracts negativity and even in those hardest of times, not giving up is important.

There’s always something to find hope in, whether it’s your children, family, friends, future business plans or something else entirely. Whatever you’re struggling with right now, whether it’s winning Small Business Sunday, finding new clients, balancing the books or getting through the pandemic, there is a path through it if you keep going.

And remember to speak to family, friends, GP or other trusted health professional for support too.
How winning the #SBS award was the perfect ending to a challenging year

Thank you, Theo Paphitis

I just want to close this blog by personally thanking Theo for selecting me as a Small Business Sunday winner. It has meant the world to be recognised as good at what I do by an expert in the business world, and it’s given me a much-needed boost to keep going in 2021 despite all the challenges that 2020 has thrown my way.