I want to tell you all about a special day I was lucky enough to experience at the end of January. My day off with a Dragon!
Back in May 2013 my Dog Walking business in Sunderland was 18 months old and I had started embraced the joy that is social media! My initial reason for using Facebook and Twitter was to connect with my clients and show them what we were getting up to with their dogs every day on our adventures. Within a short time I was facebooking and twittering everyday and eventually stumbled across Theo Paphitis Small Business Sunday event on twitter. Without really knowing what it was I started tweeting on a Sunday and after only a couple of attempts I was bloody amazed to be actually retweeted by Theo and join the rather exclusive #SBS family!
See my winning tweet and picture here
The retweet got me access to lots of other very friendly small business across the UK, I got my picture in the local paper and this year got me an invite to the prestigious SBS 2015 event in Birmingham.
As with any Small business owner wangling a day off is never easy but my Dad and my eldest son Alex who recently joined the business, covered the Dog Adventures for day and off I went.
Networking before we start
I arrived bang on 11 for registration and after grabbing a coffee and mingled a little I ended up tagging along with my friend Peter Kerr who owns Tyres 2 U who is from my region and as well as being an SBS winner he is also a fellow Durham Business Club member.
The event itself was so slick and well organised. Kypros Kyprianou the group CEO of Ryman Stationary kicked the whole thing off in great style and thanked each of the sponsors who all had a special offer for us to enjoy. We were then introduced to Theo Paphitis himself. Theo’s enthusiasm for the event and small business in general really shone through and he carried the whole day brilliantly. We were then introduced to Chris Wheeler from Metalfrog who was able to do a live launch of the new #SBS winner’s website. He talked us through all the new benefits that the winners would enjoy just from having their website registered and linked to the SBS website, with the main one being better SEO and general presence on the internet.
Theo kicks things off then explains the new SBS winners website with Chris from Metal Frog
After a short break which gave the opportunity for some more networking and a glass of wine, well it was my day off remember! We then came to a new feature for SBS event 2015, SBS Question time. The SBS question time panel was made up of three entrepreneurs. Judy Naake who brought St Tropez tan to the UK after many years hard work built the brand up and eventually sold the business for 70 million. Julien Callade, the co-founder of Made.com a very successful online business who brings custom made furniture direct to the masses, and then Rob Forken who along with his brother Paul following a family tragedy launched the very successful Gandy’s Flipflops . Gandy’s tagline is ‘Two brothers helping fellow orphans’ and that should be enough to encourage you to learn more about their inspiring story.
The SBS Question Time Panel get down to business
Inspiration was an understatement here. It was quite evident throughout the day how passionate all of the small business owners like myself were about what they do, and that same passion was present in our panel members too. They each had to work so hard to achieve the great things they had in their business but did it doing something they loved doing. I wonder how long it will be before we have an SBS winner on the panel, not long I hope. I learned a lot in this session one of the gems from Theo was ‘Your first million is the hardest to earn, it gets easier after that’ so far I have to say I agree with that will let you all know how I get on and if it really is easier. Throughout the course of the question time members of the audience got the opportunity to grill the panel for advice or some hints and tips that we could use in our business, and many used the opportunity to get a plug in for their own business and some even got a gig out of it! I will be more proactive next time and be asking Theo if he has a dog he needs some treats, toys or training help with, and if he hasn’t got a dog well why not!
Rachel from REW scarves asks a question of the panel and the crowd enjoy the inspiring answers
So that was question time done the event was wrapped up and then we moved onto our photo opportunity with Theo himself. Those who were staying over (me included!) continued with the networking and storytelling into the bars and restaurants of Birmingham.
So that was my SBS adventure a truly inspiring and thoroughly enjoyable day. I would like to personally thank Theo and the SBS team for putting on such a great event. The whole thing showed how much Theo really did care about small businesses, he knew how important it was to the economy that they grow and prosper and it felt really good to be a part of this community of Small Business owners. Networking is something I have done since I started my business and I would highly recommend, It gets you used to talking and pitching your business to other small business owners who themselves will be potential clients and customers. As Theo said on the day if you can’t bore people to death talking about the job you are passionate about then you are probably in the wrong business.
Receiving my certificate from Theo Paphitis
Dom Hodgson has run Pack Leader Dog Adventures, a very popular dog walking/adventure business based in Sunderland since November 2011. He loves working in the great outdoors and loves it even more if there are dogs involved! The Pack Leader Dog Adventures store is the latest extension to the business. Always keen to give advice and try new products to help with the adventure business Dom thought he was in an ideal position to sell and promote the things his and his clients dogs love the most.
Dom can be contacted at email@example.com and positively welcomes feedback.