My #SBS Adventure – A day off with a dragon

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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 Adventure Business in Sunderland was 18 months old and I had started to embrace the joys of social media to help me in my business. 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 every day 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!

The retweet got me access to lots of other very friendly small business across the UK, I got an article in my local paper and this year it 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.

I arrived bang on 11 for registration and after grabbing a coffee I mingled a little and ended up tagging along with my friend Peter Kerr 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 The Theo Paphitis retail Group, kicked the whole thing off in great style and thanked each of the sponsors who each 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 essential for a small business like mine.

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 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.

Inspiration was something of an understatement here. It was  evident throughout the day how passionate all of the small business owners present were about what they did and that same passion was there for all to see 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 s in the audience on the panel, not long I hope.  Having just expanded my own business and launched an online store for adventure dogs I really 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! I 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!

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 your business that are passionate about then you are probably shouldn’t be in business!

Dom Hodsgon

Pack Leader Dog Adventures




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