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What a day!

What a great day we had at the SBS awards event, over 900 people came together at the ICC arena in Birmingham. The venue was great and all set to welcome its visitors.

The first photo of the day, after a cup of tea and a bit of breakfast was set against a mountain of orange and blue balloons.

On each seat there was a beautiful Rymans journal in a variety of colours, mine is a lovely shade of turquoise. As we waited for the show to start, we watched a variety of people from all corners of the UK and all walks of life arriving to celebrate our achievement at becoming a Small Business Sunday award winner. Our first networking of the day is with the two ladies from Wild Play who we know as we all work in education in Suffolk. It was good to catch up with how things are going for us both. As there was about 10 SBS winners from Suffolk we decided to have a group photo of us all, was great to meet winners from our area, especially Jon from Camp Tails Doggy Daycare who showed us some lovely pictures of his doggy day care setting.

Taking our seats, the main event was introduced by Kypros Kyprianou CEO at Theo Paphitis Retail group and then the man himself arrived on stage to a big round of applause. He told us that he had invited the first speaker Google Digital Garage so we can all get our business’s visible on Google and therefore reach more potential customers. The session was very informative and definitely inspired us to have a look at ours.

We then heard from the man himself, he spoke about how the SBS awards were born 10 years ago. He shared in his presentation that 400,000 people have applied in the 10 years it has been going but there are only 3,000 winners, under 1% of the entries actually make it! So very proud of ourselves! He is very proud that 75% of the winners are women and 25% are men.

He then introduced one of the sponsors of the SBS, Nat West to talk about their Entrepreneur Accelerator programme for early-stage businesses. It sounded really good and talking to a lady later in the day who has done the programme, very beneficial to small businesses.

Faye McGuinness from Mind spoke to us about Wellbeing in the Workplace and how important it is not just for potential employees but especially for ourselves when running our own businesses. She spoke about the cost to companies of poor mental health and how people are still concerned about speaking about their mental health problems at work.

Finally, before lunch Charlotte Davies from LinkedIn spoke to us about growing our business on the LinkedIn platform.

Lunch was great and because it was the 10th anniversary Theo arranged a glass of bubbly for us all.

Lunchtime was a good time to network and we had a good chat to Becky from What’s the Debate and swapped thoughts and cards to pass on to potential customers.

After lunch was the highlight of the day in my opinion, Theo had a fireside chat with Sara Davies, she is a British businesswomen entrepreneur and the newest and youngest (as she was keen to tell us!) Dragon in the Dragons Den. She spoke about how she started her business when she was at university, her motivation, the highs and lows, what keeps her grounded and how she has built a career out of doing something she loves. She talked about being a working Mum, how she juggles home and work life and still is able to go running 3 times a week!

She was an inspirational, down to earth, passionate women and a pleasure to listen too.

Finally, we were presented with our certificate and had our photograph taken with Theo. While we waited in the queue to have our photo taken, we met some great people including a wonderful lady Stacey Kelly who writes books for children to nurture self-awareness and imagination. She is also promoting #ThankYouOaky which is a movement that aims to teach children about gratitude. We chatted, swapped ideas and promised to stay in touch.

Our great day was rounded off with a great meal in our favourite Italian restaurant and a lovely bottle of red.

Thank you, Theo, and all the SBS crew, for a great day!

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