Right now, research suggests that there are over 4.5 million small businesses in the UK, and by ‘small’ we mean those employing between 1 and 10 people. To put it another way, there are a lot of people running their own businesses.
It's one thing to tell people how great your business is, but for people to listen you need other people to say how good you are.
The number of small businesses is constantly growing, mostly due to the number of people who have faced redundancies, and in part to the many government schemes that encourage those people to set out on their own.
So, a further half a million people predicted to start a small business in the next 12 months, we thought we’d take a look at what it takes to make a small business really stand out, and more specifically what you should be doing if you’d like your business to win recognition - and awards.
Work hard - the first unwritten rule of business start ups
Sounds obvious, right? That’s because it is. It’s the first unwritten rule of starting a business - you don’t get anywhere unless you work hard. It’s absolutely vital to your success, and it’s essential if you want to pick up the kind of recognition and awards that will guarantee future achievements.
Unfortunately, it also means working virtually every single minute of every single day - at least until you grow big enough to employ extra people who can share your workload.
So, even if you’re not actually working on something tangible, you should be spending those spare minutes on brainstorming and thinking up ideas of how you can make your business more efficient and more effective - and you should put them into practice as soon as you pick up the pace again.
Networking - what to do when you’re notworking
Again, if you find yourself at a bit of a loose end in terms of tangible tasks to take care of, you should also try to use these opportunities to increase your exposure through a little bit of networking.
Making contacts within your industry, whether it’s face to face with other local entrepreneurs, or online with people from across the world will help to get your name - and the name of your business - recognised. What’s more, these are often the people who will nominate your for any relevant awards, so make sure you’re out to impress them.
Try joining business associations or groups, attending events and conferences, and even just picking up the phone. Meeting and speaking to like minded people whatever stage you’re at is one of the most effective ways to market your business or products, not to mention one of the most cost effective!
Remember the most important people - your customers
Last of all, never forget that you wouldn’t have a business if it wasn’t for your customers. They’re also one of the most important groups of people when it comes to receiving nominations for business or service awards, so every interaction you have with your customers must be designed to exceed their expectations.
So, make sure you deliver quality products and a quality service that deserve the prices you’re charging. Get that bit right and you’ll find that word of mouth alone will increase your exposure and recognition, attract awards and nominations, and even pique the interest of investors.
We launched The Printed Bag Shop in 2007, selling custom printed bags, since then we have won Entrepreneur of the year (twice), The Federation of Small Businesses regional Enterprise Award, won a place on the NatWest Enriched List , and came third in the national finals of The Pitch.
Why am I telling you this? Not to blow my own trumpet but to show this method works. Work hard, network and keep focused on your customers and others will recognise the strength of your business.