As a small business, Wheeler & Lai Chartered Surveyors, explored what it means to be “an award winning business” and how do you go about getting these accolades. It was through exploring the different award events, the categories and the process that we gained insight into our own achievements regardless of winning or not.
What Awards are out there?
At the beginning of 2022, we looked into what awards were out there, what we could apply for and what different criteria or categories we could fit into or find ourselves submitting for. After selecting a few, Isle of Wight Chamber Business Awards, The Portsmouth News Excellence Awards and the Federation of Small Businesses Awards, we needed to know how to apply.
The application process is not simply an act of filling in a form and then submitting it. It was detailed, there were sections that needed to focus on strategy, planning, growth, figures and more. As a small business. we knew the business inside and out, but not necessarily in the same terminology as the judges or panels. We needed a focus, we needed to tell a story.
Compiling, Composing and Submitting the application
We turned to our trusted contact David Thornton of Delivering Sales Excellence, who had guided us before on our business journey, and who was skilled in business development, awards and bid writing. We enlisted his services to assist us in this endeavour and help compose our submissions.
No matter how much time you think you need, you will need more time. Do not under-estimate how much time is required and effort it is to compile data and information. We knew that we did not have time to necessarily put pen to paper ourselves, and David was able to draw all the information together into a coherent story, but he needed the data and information first.
A submission does not write itself. A word limited submission, does not drop it’s own word count, at a click of a finger or mouse. These take effort. These take time to cut back and refine.
We found David to be invaluable, not only did he have vast patience with us, but his process of information gathering and therefore fine-tuning and drilling down, really made us reflect on what we had done in our business. Being in the business and “doing the job” we didn’t necessary think we were doing any extraordinary. We did not think we were “strategising” or “being entrepreneurial”, it was simply “doing a task this way or that way” or “spreading the word on social media”. Under a different lens, through different filters, we were doing “all these business” things and not often realising it.
The process enabled us to reflect on our achievements, our wins, which may have been small, but there were a lot of them! We needed a step back to reflect to really appreciate how far we have come. From 2018 to 2022, we were in our 4th year of business and entering ourselves into Small Business Awards – Growth category, and Entrepreneurial Category in the IOW Chamber Awards. We had harnessed social media to grow our visibility, we used our networking to grow our business, and we took to events our own creative flourishes ensuring we added value in whatever we do. We took on board the need for virtual viewings, with the investment in 3D Camera technology to provide immersive 360 degree views of a property for sale or to let. We used this to give clients access to their assets which before was not possible or provided. We had grown from negative profit to profitability by year 3, and still continue to grow.
We had to weave these into a coherent story, we had to back up the details with data and financial figures. We had to make sure our submission fundamentally ticked boxes and answered “the questions” posed. David did this excellently, and was able to draw on the data, our conversations, our mentality and approach to business, and wrote them down succinctly into the submissions.
Entering an award, is like telling your story, give the judges an insight into your business journey and back it up with facts. Honesty and Integrity is important, not just in business, but in business award submissions. Winning an award is an honour and prestigious, and the process meticulous and fair. It took us longer than we anticipated, supplying the details and information. We were also needed to fine tune and approve the submission too, it is a process by all parties, to make sure the right tone and story is being told, and the final tweaking again – took a lot longer than we realised. The word count was so important that we had to be succinct. It was really the 11th hour for our very first awards submission. We were learning a lesson here. Something to take on for next time.
We were pleased to have entered several categories and several awards, and was delighted to be shortlisted in two categories in one of the awards. We were unsuccessful in the others, but were thrilled to hear the news that we were nominees in the Entrepreneurial Award and Growth Business of the Year Award at the Isle of Wight Chamber Awards 2022, to be held at Cowes Yacht Haven.
Nominees for two categories
Delighted to be nominees, we of course wished to share this positive news with our network and on social media. It was fantastic to be able to share that our hard work (and of course David’s) was fruitful, in being shortlisted. This we feel is an achievement in itself. Out of a plethora of businesses, to be amongst 39 shortlisted for the awards felt amazing. We were excited to attend this much loved and missed awards night, glitz and glamour of a highly regarded annual event (postponed for 2 years).
We received many well-wishes and good lucks, and were looking forward to attending the night – more for the experience and company, than thinking of the possible win. What we had got out of the submission process, was being able to think more strategically, more ways to process data and information, breaking down the services we offer into areas we should grow more or change. We gained a solid insight into the business and a way to view things that we hadn’t really thought about before. After all being a business owner was relatively new to us, whereas we have been surveyors for many more years!
On the day, on the night, we were delighted to share our table with The Island Holiday Company, who were fellow nominees, as well as sharing the evening with David and Sue, one of our VAs. We missed Jo, who was unable to attend, due to family matters, and Rebecca’s husband was swiftly able to done his best suit to join us instead. We thank you all for the wonderful support you have given to us and our business.
We delighted in seeing our name on the big screen and held our breaths as the winners were announced. Alas we did not scoop any awards and we hope we had the best gracious losing faces, but we were thrilled to share the screen and the night with some amazing companies. We are not disappointed that we did not win, we are thrilled to be able to share our work and our name with everyone at the event and here now. It was definitely worthwhile trying, taking part and putting ourselves out there.
We take away our learnings, and we know that we can always try again. We may not be award winning, but we are winning. We are on this business journey, that we are enjoying and we are thrilled to be helping so many clients, businesses and making new connections constantly.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and we hope you find it insightful for your business journey.
You may find these links useful
David Thornton – Delivering Sales Excellence/EV Express
Sue Matthews – Business Office Support Services
Jo Burfitt – JMB Virtual Assistant
Isle of Wight Chamber Awards 2022 – Article of the evening and the winners.