On Friday 12th February 2016, I ( along with another few hundreds of small business owners) was invited to attend the #SBSevent2016 at the ICC in Birmingham. This is because back in June 2015, I had become a #SBS winner.
To become a #SBS winner, you first need two main things: 1) Own a small business 2) Have a twitter account. Then you need to tweet @theopaphitis between 5:00 and 7:30pm on a Sunday evening.
On the Monday, he picks his 6 favourite businesses and he retweets them and then “voila” you can call yourself an #SBS winner! Prepare yourself for an avalanche of congratulation tweets and warm welcomes into the #SBS family. It really feels like an avalanche. My phone never stopped beeping that night and kept beeping a lot during the next 7 days. I had been tweeting about Mimi’s Organic Wines for over a year before being picked. I was used to not having any notifications on Monday nights but was determined to keep trying. I didn’t even look at twitter on that night, it was a nice sunny evening, I was not working and I had planned to go on a little bike ride. Then I got the notification that @theopaphitis had retweeted my tweet. I had to go and check on Twitter but I didn’t really need to; my phone went mad straight away, it was surreal.
A few days after THE retweet, you get an email to tell you that you can now have your profile on the #SBS website, which feels very nice indeed. And then you also know that you will be invited to the next #SBSevent: a treat of a day thanks to the sponsors! You get to meet other #SBS winners and get lots of motivation thanks to some great business talks, including from Theo Paphitis, who you then can have a photo with. The sponsors this year were: Ryman Stationary, Red Letter Days, DHL, 123reg , iLaw and Robert Dyas
I was very much looking forward to the #SBSevent2016 so I made sure I kept the day free and I travelled there the night before so as to be fresher than after a morning commute from Yorkshire to Birmingham! That was a bit of a treat: a morning with just me to get ready, what a luxury!
We had the option of bringing a +1 but, as a one-woman band, I did not have anyone to bring and that was the hardest part of the day. Everyone was very friendly and I am not normally shy at all but most people were in a pair or in a group so it was hard to just walk up to them and introduce myself. So I need to get myself a +1 for next year! I did meet some very nice people though: Roshni from Bellakinesis , 2 lovely gentlemen from Macrafts, Isa Marie from Isa Marie Skincare, Becca from Photopia , Peter and his wife from P&P Electrical and the very talented Linda Bloomfield . I hope I have not forgotten anyone! I also managed to catch up with Azra from Azra chocolates. We had met and spent the day next to each other on a Christmas market and she had given me great advice.
The event was brilliantly organised.
The food was very nice, even for a fussy vegetarian like me. My only problem was that coffee was on demand and, well, you will see on my official photo that drinking too many cups of it did not do me any favours!
Theo Paphitis was great. He is very quick and funny and his comments made me aloud on several occasions. He first let some dashing young man from his team introduce the very exciting concept of the SBS shop and then talked to us about how #SBS started and what it meant for him and how we should use it.
The question and answer session started a bit late because poor Mr Pickles (from the Really Useful Boxes) had had a mishap and needed treatment and some crutches before being able to go on stage but he did make it and I am really glad he did because he was both entertaining and informative. And I loved his accent 🙂
There was also Holly Tucker and she very much struck a chord in me when she said that, actually, people are starting to realise that they want a bit of a story behind a product. I hope that is true because that is what makes my organic wines interesting: they all have their own story.
The questions from my fellow ‘#SBS winners were interesting and made me feel reassured that, regardless of the nature of our businesses, we all face challenges but we can sometimes help each other out. I think that’s also what the day is about.
For me it was also about getting that photo where Theo Paphitis gives me my #SBS winner certificate. Theo was lovely; he asked me whether I had enjoyed the day, he tried to make me feel at ease. I was more excited than nervous and, for some reason (I will keep blaming the coffee overdose), instead of my usual smiling self, I look like a woman possessed! Very embarrassing but there you go, that’s yet another business lesson for me to learn: Theo always looks smiling AND composed on all the pictures, I have to try and achieve that too!