Twitter was buzzing with excitement recently because the organiser of Small Business Sunday, Theo Paphitis, the well known Dragon, was arranging a Winners’ Event where all the winners of the competition could get to meet each other. You may not know what Small Business Sunday is – every Sunday between 5.00pm and 7.30pm, small businesses are encouraged to tweet @TheoPaphitis with a link to their business and including the hashtag #SBS. He usually picks six a week to retweet and it can have dramatic results on their website traffic and ranking, not to mention sales! Sunday was picked as it is what he calls “thinking time”.
I won Small Business Sunday on May 15th 2011 and was thrilled with the results: a doubling of traffic to my website and a five-fold increase in traffic to my blog. It’s wonderful exposure for any small business and what’s particularly great about Theo is that he encourages a lot of green and eco businesses, like mine, by retweeting them on Small Business Sunday.
For the winners event, all of us were invited – by Twitter, initially! – to go to Edgbaston Stadium in Birmingham. There was a great atmosphere and I had the chance to meet a lot of people I usually only chat with on Twitter.
The new website for Small Business Sunday was unveiled: it’s a fantastic networking site for those who have won the competition and also anyone who is interested in learning more about them. I’m very impressed that it’s been set up so quickly and as he said, it’s all come about through the magic of Twitter, as the designer was one of the SBS winners!
Theo gave a great speech and also spent a lot of time answering questions so I’m only going to go through some highlights that stuck in my mind.
Asked about the environment, he talked about feeling about the planet as you might feel if you’ve not taken enough care of your body and you realise the damage you’ve done and decide to stop doing any more: it’s a vivid metaphor.
He also had some tips for people starting a green business – being green alone is not enough, you’ve also got to have a great product and a market for it, as well as the persistence to make it work. These three things, in his opinion, are essential for any entrepreneur.
Stand out quote of the evening? “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” – he talked a lot about the importance of planning in business. Another point he made was you can’t afford to be shy – your competitor, even one with an inferior product, might get ahead of you. Also, you need to be passionate about your business – so passionate that you can spend hours boring your friends about it!
Finally, he had some pointers for people hoping to win the next Small Business Sunday. You’ve got to have a website, if a business doesn’t have one he won’t consider it. He likes quirky tweets. He might be more likely to notice you if you’ve tweeted him directly or outside of Small Business Sunday (that’s going to increase the amount of tweets he gets!).
Below is a photo of me with Theo, proudly clutching my certificate. Luckily I checked before the photo was taken, of course I was holding it upside down!