On Tuesday 12th January Theo hosted the #SBSevent2019, the annual event, just for the winners of his #SBS Small Business Sunday competition.
800 small businesses headed to the Birmingham ICC for a day of networking, guest speakers and business advice. New winners could collect their certificates and have a photo with Theo to help their publicity and marketing efforts.
New for this year, Google’s Head of SME Marketing, Raja Saggi, took to the stage to present on Digital Best Practice, covering the importance of website speed which many winners could then test themselves. Also joining Theo on stage were Webroot, who revealed key statistics from their Cyber Security report released that day. It focussed on the the idea that businesses are never too small to focus on what data they need to protect.
Theo’s special guest this year was celebrated entrepreneur and philanthropist, Sir Tom Hunter. He started out, like many of the #SBS winners, selling trainers from the back of a van which grew to become Europe’s Largest independent sports retailer, Sports Division. He sold his business to his main competitor,JJB Sports, for £250 million. As Scotland’s first homegrown billionaire his journey was an inspiration to the small business owners. He covered his lessons in business and the importance of not giving up when it does not go right the first time. Discussing risk with Theo, a topic close to a lot of small business, he said that “the best entrepreneurs are not risk takers, they are risk managers.” He spoke earnestly about the importance of mentors, his own being his Dad, who had helped him on his journey to success.
Along the road to business success, Sir Tom had read about a Scot named Andrew Carnegie who said “he who dies rich, dies in disgrace”. This set him on a road to philanthropy, setting up The Hunter Foundation which has since donated more than £55 million to charitable causes. Both Theo and Sir Tom then took questions from a captivated audience who covered off everything from “What would you do if you were the Prime Minister for a day” to “How did you know it was the right time to buy a business?”
The afternoon saw all the new winners receive their certificate and have a photo with Theo, while breakout presentations from the sponsors Ryman, Robert Dyas, iLaw, HP, Square, Western Union, DHL and Autumn Fair continued. These covered a huge range of topics from how to make the most of Trade Fairs and how they can grow your business, a guide to intellectual property rights and a journey to ecommerce success. Winners could have 10 minute 1-2-1 sessions with the sponsors to have all their burning questions answered.
Three #SBS winners also did breakout presentations for their fellow winners. Sarah Pittendrigh of Simply Bows and Chair Covers shared her journey of franchising her business across the UK, David Speed of Graffiti Life spoke about overcoming fear and Nicole Martin from Pinpoint Marketing ran a marketing workshop for the attendees.
Throughout the day games from #SBS winners,Garden Games Hire and a selfie Mirror, from Odin Events, kept the winners amused and new for this year was an HP Photo Zone where winners could get a new headshot for their website, business cards or linkedIn.
It was the biggest #SBS event yet, with fantastic guest speakers and business advice – Theo has already begun to think about #SBSevent2020!