Small Business Sunday (SBS) Event 2019
Tuesday 12th February was the date of the annual Small Business Sunday Event of 2019 held at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham and my first time attending after winning in August 2018.
The day starts at 9am and ends around 530pm and is a day of meeting up with your fellow #SBS winners - which was really nice to put some voices to the faces and businesses you mingle with on social media.
You also have opportunities to network with others you haven’t met, have 1-2-1 sessions with the sponsors of the event, speed networking sessions with the experts, listen to guest speakers, eat and drink free refreshments, have a free professional headshot, enjoy games & win prizes and for first time attendees you pick up your certificate and have an individual photo taken with Theo himself (I even got a selfie). You then leave with a HUGE and generous goodie bag.
The guest speakers this year were Paul Barnes at Webroot, Raja Saggi, head of SME Marketing at Google UK & Ireland and THE Sir Tom Hunter, who started selling trainers from the back of his van to being Scotlands’s first homegrown billionaire.
The event is FREE for #SBS Winners to attend, how? With amazing sponsors from Square, HP, Robert Dyas, Autumn Fair, DHL, iLaw, Ryman, Western Union Business and of course Theo Paphitis with his brilliant team.
What is Small Business Sunday?
Small Business Sunday, also known as #SBS was founded by Theo Paphitis just over 8 years ago in 2010 when him and ‘Mrs P’ as she is referred to, were talking at the kitchen table about how he could help small businesses. The short of it is he decided to set up a Twitter account and asked small businesses to tweet him about themselves and their business and each week he would choose 6 to shout out about, 8 years later it continues.
It helps small businesses by having an increase in Twitter followers, media publicity and subsequently increased sales. It also allows #SBS winners to join private members facebook group where you can network, ask work related questions and get general advice.
My Experience of the event.
So catching the train to Birmingham New Street, the walk to ICC is about 15 minutes - so I obviously got in a cab, I’m so lazy. When you arrive there’s a free cloakroom, you head to registration, there was no queue and so you can walk straight in.
I went straight to the bathroom to apply my Glitter, I mean, I wasn’t sure if I was going to look like a massive tit to be fair, but I thought it’s a business event, my business includes Glitter Bars so why not?! The girls in the bathroom thought it was a great idea!
When I went in you can help yourself to tea, coffee and orange juice. I had a walk around and queued to have a free headshot taken and then had a 10 minute speed networking session with Becky Waters who is head of Marketing at Robert Dyas - these are first come first serve, you can’t pre book these.
You then find a seat and the event opens at around 11am by Kypros Kyprianou, the CEO of Theo Paphitis Retail Group who then introduces Theo Paphitis to the stage.
Some may know Theo from being a Dragon in the Den - on BBC2 series of Dragons Den obviously, he was in 9 series where small businesses would pitch to him and he would choose whether to invest in them or say “I’m Out”.
Theo was born in Cyprus, he left school at 16 with no qualifications due to his dyslexia and began work as a tea boy and filing clerk in a Lloyds of London brokerage. He then went on to work in retail - where he found his passion, as well as other jobs where he found experience in finance and property.
With his passion for retail he revived some well known high street brands such as Ryman the Stationers, La Senza lingerie and home & garden retailer Robert Dyas. In Spring of 2011 he launched what has now become the multi-award winning, global lingerie brand Boux Avenue.
Theo welcomed us all and we spoke about a few things - Brexit, Autumn Fair applications (which opens on 1st March) and he also said, that since 2010 there had been over 370,000 #SBS applications and there had been over 2,500 winners which means we were under 1% of entires to make the cut. I felt quite humble to be there.
Our first talk was from Paul Barnes at Webroot who talked to us about the importance of cyber security and the effect it can have for your business. One programme he mentioned was LastPass which is a tool that remembers your passwords, they are quite safe and state they have strong encryption algorithms, local only encryption and 2 factor authentications. You can also download the App so you can access your passwords anywhere.
Our second talk was Raja Saggi from Google, who gave such great advice - one thing to mention if you have your own website is to go onto https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/feature/testmysite this allows you to see how quickly your own website loads up for people that click on it. A good rating is 5 seconds and below, if it’s above, a good way to fix this is by making images smaller.
He also stated that if you are a mobile business, like myself, to ‘watch this space’. As many of you know that when you want to add your business to Google Business, you have to put in an address, well when you’re mobile and don’t have a salon, shop etc you have to put your home address down and I personally don’t like that - I think that may change shortly … fingers crossed!
Then at 1pm it was lunchtime. They bring out a selection of sandwiches, potato wedges, mini quiches and the bar is open for a cheeky vino - there was a glass of Pinot Grigio with ice with my name on!
At 2pm I had pre booked a 1-2-1 talk with one of the sponsors, Square. I was actually really impressed with them, so impressed that I’ve bought one of their card readers which will be really handy for doing more festivals and fairs this year.
If you are thinking of purchasing a card reader - this is what I learnt from Square:
So not only will I be able to take contactless card payments, they only take 1.75% fee. I can download the app on my phone or iPad, I can enter what services and items I offer and the price so when the customer is ready to pay, you can simply click on the product and they can tap the reader and this is all completely free to use, it’s so simple and it’s really easy for customers to pay. It takes all major cards including American Express and the funds appear in your account the next business day.
There are no other additional costs or fee’s to pay at all. The card reader is £39 + VAT, however we were really lucky to have SBS offers, so not only was the reader 50% off, but the first £1000 that goes through is a 0% fee too. So its worth trying to become an #SBS winner.
At 230pm we take our seats again for our third talk, Theo in conversation with ….
Sir Tom Hunter
Scotlands first homegrown billionaire - I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but it was really interesting listening to his stories and his journey. He was really easy to resonate with, funny and to know that he started his career where we all started, gone through the ups and downs and to now be where he is today was incredible.
Sir Tom Hunter started work with his father in the shoe business, when the recession hit and his family business folded he then started wanting to sell shoes on the market stalls, he had a choice between slippers and trainers, and after much thought … he chose SLIPPERS! This didn’t take off as he had hoped, he didn’t sell much, so he decided to try again and chose trainers. He was selling trainers out the back of his van and sealed a concession deal with a Jeans store and started selling his trainers in their shops.
He borrowed £5K form his dad and £5k from the bank and set up Sports Division. In 1998 he sold Sports Division to JJB Sports for a whopping £290 million.
He quotes “a man who dies rich, dies in disgrace”
He now generously invests him time and money into the West Coast Capital and The Hunter Foundation. His foundation focus’s on entrepreneurship, education, opportunities and poverty.
At 430pm the talks concluded and it was time to collect my certificate and have my picture taken with Theo. Though there are a lot of people queueing for this it really didn’t take that long to go through - it is a very quick meet, greet and photo but it is well worth it. I also had to get him to move sides so I could get my glitter in the photo - he didn’t mind! If you are a products based business you can bring one of your items along and he will happily hold it for your photo.
At 530pm the event finishes. I met with some lovely businesses including Tessa who owns Club Hub UK which is free app and website for people to locate Kids clubs and activities.
I also met with the ladies from Suffolk Heidi and Denise from Wildplay Ltd who won the same week I did and they run an outdoor learning and forest school for children and Victoria and her Mum Mandy from Beauty Gallery salon, we decided to catch a night cap before heading home …
How do I enter my business?
First of all, if your business is not set up on Twitter … get on it. Secondly, you need to search for Theo Paphitis and Ryman Stationary and follow them both. Thirdly you need to send 1 tweet on a Sunday evening between 5pm - 730pm about you and your small business, you must make sure you tag him @TheoPaphitis and include the hashtag #SBS.
How do I know if I’m chosen?
Theo has to choose 6 businesses out of all the tweets that enter and he will retweet these 6 tweets on a Monday evening at 8pm, if your tweet is retweeted - your twitter won’t stop all week …. is that enough tweet tweets!!
If I’m not chosen, then what happens?
Do not fret, It’s very unlikely that you are going to be picked the first time you enter. Lucky for some business they have been picked fairly quickly, for me, it was a good few months. Persistence is key! Make your tweet stand out - a bit of humour, check spelling mistakes, add a link, add some picture’s, don’t make it too formal, and make sure you only tweet the ONCE!
If I AM chosen, then what?
Well like I previously said …. watch your twitter go mad all week with Retweets, congratulatory tweets from other #SBS Winners and other businesses who entered. Once that’s calmed down you then have access to the #SBS facebook group, a log in to the #SBS website where you can create your online badge to put on your website. You also get some great advice from Theo.
Theo says “Our lives are ruled by rules. If you want to play the game – whether it’s football, cricket or even bridge – you have to learn the rules and play by them.
In my business life I have followed my own rules and here’s your chance to find out exactly what those rules are and why they’ve been so phenomenally successful for me.”
You get an insight into his 12 Rules in business. You get invited to the free annual event and it is such a great business boost. Your local media would love to hear about it and once you get your professional photo through, why not contact them and be featured.