Thursday, 1 March 2018

Our time at #SBSevent2018

You Can Folk It meets Theo Paphitis Birmingham ICC, small business

What a week! Our social media has been going crazy once again following our recent attendance at Theo Paphitis' SBS event at the Birmingham ICC last week.  If you haven't heard of Theo's SBS Sunday, it is a fantastic initiative he created back in October 2010.  With the idea of supporting small businesses around the UK, he invites business owners to send him a tweet describing their business every Sunday between 5-7.30pm.  Each Monday, he chooses his favourite six and retweets them to his 500,000+ followers.

You Can Folk It SBS winners

Fast forward 6 years to Oct 2016 and we were chosen as one of his favourite...our Twitter account went crazy.  From congratulations tweets to new followers, RT's to questions, we wondered what on earth was happening as our phones were pinging like crazy.  

The highlight of an SBS winners year is the free yearly networking event hosted by Ryman Stationary (one of Theo's successful businesses).  As we couldn't make it last year, we were excited to see what all the fuss was about and to have our photo taken with Theo himself.  

After a long journey from Sheffield and an interesting hour arguing with the Sat Nav (Birmingham road works are interesting to say the least!) we arrived.  There were lots of talks and presentations and many lovely people to chat to.

One of the highlights of the day for us was getting the opportunity to meet lots of lovely SBS winners in person, people we had been chatting to via Twitter for a while including the lovely Carmen from Joyful and Mellow who makes delicious alcoholic spreads.  Placed within the 'Creative' category, we also had the pleasure to chat to Kirsty from KA Graphic Design who makes fantastic cards, Sophie from the gorgeous Pip Box and Sarah (Charlotte Designs) who specialises in painting such a wide variety of stunning wall murals. Honestly, there was so much talent in one room our heads were buzzing, we wanted to talk to everyone! 

Joyful and Mellow, You Can Folk It, SBS winners, #SBSevent2018
I found myself sitting next to the lovely Carmen from Joyful & Mellow, a fellow #SBS winner and #womaninbiz over on Twitter
Theo Paphitis SBS event

Waiting for the event to begin, we collected our notebooks got our pens ready.  It's safe to say, listening to Theo that he has a passion for small business and helping them flourish.  The event is totally free for SBS winners and their guests thanks to sponsorship from companies like Square Up, Ryman, HP and DHL to name a few which is fantastic for small businesses. 

SBSevent2018, Theo Paphitis, John Roberts

The main event was the fireside chat with John Roberts from John started his business following a £1 bet that he wouldn't be able to succeed with a white goods business on the then newly introduced thing called the internet.  It was nothing short of inspiring to listen to his journey that's taken him from a small company consisting of a group of friends playing at their business to a multi million pound company thriving in an area where large brands such as Currys have dominated for so long.  

To listen to 'just a guy from Bolton' as he puts it, sit in front of the audience and be so humble and so honest about the successes but also the failures (large and small) he has faced since he began was so refreshing and inspiring.  He started where many of us did, with an idea and a bit of money and has built his company on honesty, integrity and what some in business may call 'old fashioned values'.   

As small business owners, it can sometimes be difficult not to compare yourself to other businesses; at their social media following, their success, their journey and think they have it made, that they are flourishing while you are taking one step forward and three back.  Listening to John it reinforced that you never know where another company is unless you own it.  As small businesses, we need to be proud of where we are, nurturing our company and moving forward.  Take time to enjoy being a small company and to build those relationships not only with your customers but with everyone.  John relayed how he still takes time to sign letters himself to customers he's replying to, how he takes time to do market research while he is socialising, and touches base with his employees.  Now I know it won't all be sunshine and roses at AO but what struck me was the commitment John still had to his customers, the commitment to stay at the grass roots level to ensure that he still understands what his customers want.  It reinforced in us that you don't need to think big to be big.  Strengthen your foundations, nurture your fan base and never forget where you came from.

Needless to say, we left the event with plenty of food for thought, new contacts and lots of ideas running through our heads.  Will we be attending next year? Absolutely.  

So if you are a small business owner and are on Twitter, do tweet about your business each Sunday.  The SBS community is supportive, fun and such a great group to be a part of.  Good luck and you never know, we might see you there in 2019.  


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