The one important lesson you can learn from award-winning entrepreneurs

The one important lesson you can learn from award-winning entrepreneurs

The one important lesson you can learn from award-winning entrepreneurs

Industry Insights

By Donna O’Toole

Just a year ago, entrepreneurs across the world were planning for another year of business without too many dramas. I know, because I was one of them.

Boy were we wrong!

Before we could even think about getting down to business, everything changed and we had to figure out how to survive the pain and devastation of natural disasters, mass protests, a global pandemic, oh and #Megxit. It was set to be ‘the worst year ever’.

Fast forward to December 2020, and the stories of survival that have come out of this year are proving that nothing is impossible.

Never before (in our lifetime) have we seen such generosity, mutual support and collaboration between entrepreneurs, business leaders and brands. For example:

  • Burger King have been bigging-up McDonald’s, Greggs, Pizza Hut, and many more fast food outlets in a bid to support the jobs of fellow hospitality industry employees.
  • Co-op showed their industry solidarity with Sainsbury’s to make a stand against racism.
  • Rivals Rolls-Royce, McLaren, Ford and a plethora of otherwise competing brands came together in a collaboration to deliver essential ventilators to the NHS.

In the awards industry, where live events had to quickly pivot to online, we’ve supported each other with partnerships, advice, and ideas too.

But one huge group that has delivered some incredible lessons in business this year is the entrepreneur community.

From small start-ups who were in their infancy when the pandemic struck, to the fast-growing, entrepreneur-led disruptors and changemakers, this bunch of ‘rebels and misfits’ have pivoted, pitched, and proven themselves a success throughout a year that no one could have predicted.

And whilst I’ve had the real honour (and huge challenge) of judging and selecting winners amongst the most emotional ‘Covid Heroes’ awards nominations you can imagine, I have seen one common quality that stands out about award-winners this year above all else…

Altruism. That is, ‘Acting out of the concern for the welfare of others at the cost or risk to oneself’. Otherwise known as genuine kindness, generosity, and gratitude.

Not only have entrepreneurs’ commitment to others been instinctive and real, it has also proven the theory that helping others is as good for us, as it is for them.

As Mentalhealth.org says, ‘Kindness improves mental health, reduces stress and boosts self-esteem’. So it’s no surprise that these entrepreneurs and their teams have been amongst the most motivated I’ve met, and also the most able to put in a powerful performance in their business despite facing their own battles.

Altruism in Action

Here are a few examples of the altruism in action I’ve seen this year. Let these entrepreneurs inspire you to dig deep into your values, challenge and motivate your team, and drive you forward with greater impact than ever. *Spoiler alert*… It’s not about the money.

  1. Pivot For Purpose: Led by the inspirational James Watt, Brewdog have won so many awards they’ve now launched their own — Beer Geeks. This is a great example of an entrepreneurial business that acts fast and inspires others to do the same. In April 2020, with the nation still in shock, Brewdog took a good look at what tools they already had in place and pivoted from creating a product that everyone wanted — beer — to a product that everyone needed — hand sanitiser. As a result, they’ve supplied over 50,000 units to charities and the NHS; some even in little beer bottles. And the beer’s still brewing too.
    Brewdog Punk Sanitiser supporting the NHS

    Brewdog Punk Sanitiser supporting the NHS | Brewdog

  2. Give Back With Gratitude: Founded in early 2020 by multi-award-winning young entrepreneur, Haroon Danis, Skin HQ was rapidly expanding and becoming known as the UK’s leading skin clinic. But when the pandemic hit, they were one of the first to have to shut up shop and wait until it was safe to open again. It was then that Haroon saw all the NHS workers on the news whose skin was being damaged by wearing PPE for hours on end. He immediately launched Skin Heroes, donating free facials to key workers to book in for some much needed R+R as soon as he reopened. To date, he has given away over £1.5m of skin treatments and he has no plans to stop. Haroon says “It was the best way I could think of to say thank you.” The smile this brings to every NHS worker’s face has made this a driving force for team morale too, supporting the brand to continue to thrive.
  3. Share Your Experience: In 2012, professional footballer Marvin Sordell was living the dream and playing alongside the likes of Ryan Giggs. But on the inside he was struggling with his mental health more than anyone knew. After suffering racial abuse and severe depression he left the sport he loved, and after a period of recovery he found his passion and purpose in storytelling. Marvin is now the co-founder of Oneighty Productions, which has produced a range of award-winning short films. He is also an ambassador for CALM, featured in the BBC documentary ‘Football, Prince William and our Mental Health’, and launched Transition FC, a platform to help former footballers navigate changing careers. Marvin is an inspirational example of how to use your own experiences to make a positive change in the world. Listen to our exclusive podcast.
  4. Create A Community: Led by Michelle Pugh-Parry de Klerk, The Women’s Chapter is a community that was set up to support women-led brands to thrive, giving female founders a place to connect and support each other. During the pandemic, Michelle and many of the award-winning brands in her community used their existing contacts and skills to support each other’s businesses, like Nancy Zeffman and Eileen Willettools the co-founders of Cucumber Clothing, who collaborated with UpWrap, founded by Amber Testino, to create and donate vital face masks to the most at-risk communities.
  5. Stay True to Yourself: Back in 2014, Joe Wicks became an award-winner as The Body Coach, leading a thriving business that was getting people fit and healthy through a combination of HIIT exercise and healthy eating plans. This wasn’t just a job, this was Joe’s true passion, and it still is. Five years later, only two things have changed about Joe; his huge following, and his name — which is now Joe Wicks MBE. During the pandemic he used his passion to get the nation off their sofas and jump around their lounges in the hope of one day seeing that elusive six-pack — or slightly more realistically, to lift the nation’s spirits, wear out the kids, and give us all some much-needed exercise while we were stuck in lockdown. He ended the year with a 24-hour live workout, raising over £1.5m for Children in Need.
    Joe Wicks completes 24 hour PE challenge for BBC Children in Need / Joe Wicks/Instagram

    Joe Wicks completes 24 hour PE challenge for BBC Children in Need / Joe Wicks/Instagram

These examples are just the tip of the iceberg. So many entrepreneurs are using what they already have to change the world for the better. And you can too.

YOU ALREADY HAVE THE TOOLS. IT’S WHAT YOU DO WITH THEM THAT COUNTS.

So congratulations to all you entrepreneurs for surfing the waves of panic and confusion and coming out fitter, stronger, and with your customers and colleagues in your arms.

As Steve Jobs, one of the world’s most inspirational entrepreneurs, said himself:

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Start now. Start small. What one thing can you do today to help someone else, change the world, and drive your business out of the pandemic stronger than ever?

And if you want to stand out as an award-winning entrepreneur or business leader, take a look at just a few of the awards that you could be winning in 2021 here.

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2020: The Year of Virtual Award Ceremonies

2020: The Year of Virtual Award Ceremonies

2020: The Year of Virtual Award Ceremonies

Industry Insights

By Donna O’Toole

Usually at this time of the year we’d be donning our most glamorous black-tie outfits, and attending award ceremonies at some of the most stunning venues. But with all events cancelled we’ve had to adjust to the magical world of virtual ceremonies…

And although virtual ceremonies will never be as good as the real thing, the ones we’ve had the pleasure of attending have been pretty fantastic!

So how are award organisers ensuring attendees will still have great experience in a virtual world?

Online Presentations to the Judges

For some awards, the next step on a finalists journey to the finals is to present to the judges.

In normal times, finalists present to a panel of judges in person to get their story across and put a face to the written entry. But this year, the finalists have had to put their video call expertise to use and present online.

Vitality Health, Vitality, UK Customer Experience Awards 2020, Customer Experience Awards, Awards Finals, Awards Presentations, August Recognition, August The Awards Consultancy, Donna O'Toole

Every year August founder Donna O’Toole judges at some of the top awards and had this to say about her experience judging virtually:

I’ve been so impressed with the quality and standard of all the presentations I have judged this year. Some of the stories coming out this year in the Covid-19 categories have even brought a tear to my eye! Everyone has done so well to adapt to presenting online, and the organisers have done a great job to bring it all together.

Finalist Hampers

Award organisers know we would all rather be in a glitzy ballroom enjoying a glass of fizz, so to help us get excited they have introduced finalist hampers!

At this year’s virtual Lloyds Bank National Business Awards ceremony finalists could receive a luxurious hamper complete with prosecco, pralines and a confetti cannon to celebrate their win.

Just a little something to build the excitement of being a finalist and make the experience special.

NBA finalist hamper, The Lloyds Bank National Business Awards, virtual award ceremonies, August Recognition, Donna O'Toole

A-List Guest Speakers

The promise of hearing from high-profile speakers is always hugely exciting! And with the logistics of having a guest speaker physically attend removed, some awards have gone all out to impress.

At the Great British Entrepreneur Awards Regional Finals the finalists were addressed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak:

The Lloyds Bank National Business Awards notoriously book incredible keynote speakers, and this year they did not disappoint with not 1, but 6 guest speakers. Including Lewis Hamilton MBE, Dame Joanna Lumley, Ruby Wax, Simon McCoy, Steph McGovern, Baroness Karen Brady and Sir Chris Hoy MBE

Lewis Hamilton MBE, The Lloyds Bank National Business Awards, Pivot for Purpose Award, iNews, Virtual Ceremonies

Winners’ Speeches

With hundreds of people to seat, wine, dine and entertain at live events we rarely get to hear from the winners due to strict timings of the evening.

The beauty of virtual ceremonies means attendees get the opportunity to see and hear from the people that win, as and when they win!

Generali Insurance Serbia, South East Europe Customer Experience Awards 2020, Virtual Ceremonies, Awards, international awards, awards international, August The Awards Consultancy, August Recognition, Donna O'Toole

Awards are nothing without people. Seeing happy, smiley faces of the people behind the winning projects celebrate their win is a really great moment. Plus, winners don’t need to worry about stage fright from the comfort of their desks!

And if you screen record or screenshot the moment you win, you can share the good news with your teams, clients, shareholders and customers too.

2021: The Return of the Live Event (hopefully!)

No matter how well award organisers have done to make virtual ceremonies fun and exciting, I’m sure we are all itching to get back to live events once it’s safe to do so.

The events industry has taken a huge hit in 2020 with the majority of suppliers and events teams furloughed and out of work since March. And campaigns such as #WeAreEvents are so important to raise awareness of the struggle of the events industry and to highlight the support they need.

We’ve spoken with many awards organisers this year who have shared their experiences of working in the events industry in 2020 and how they all came to agree that the show must go on.

But for now, we’ll continue supporting the awards and events industry, attending virtual events and encouraging everyone to continue entering awards and get the recognition they deserve and reward their teams in what has been a tumultuous year!

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Continuing to support our clients

Continuing to support our clients

Continuing to support our clients

Company Update

By Donna O’Toole

With restrictions still in place across the world and stricter restrictions coming back into effect across Europe, we want to let our contacts and clients know that we are still here for you.

We are still working hard week-in week-out to support our clients to keep their brands strong and employees rewarded. Creating targeted awards strategies, writing winning award entries and crafting awards presentations for virtual awards judging sessions.

We are still sharing our expert insights, news and guidance with our community.

We are still continuing to run our Awards Accelerator course to empower entrepreneurs, business leaders and professionals to develop their own winning strategy and entries.

We are still supporting awards organisers on their 2020/21 programmes to ensure entrants still get the most value out of entering, being shortlisted and winning and we are delighted to see so many recognising business and community heroes during the crisis.

And through our client’s wins we are still supporting and empowering women in Zimbabwe to create a better future – with 80 business training days donated in the last quarter.

Throughout this year (whether in the office or WFH), we’ve been able to support our colleagues and continue providing our services and create positive stories for the teams we work with – allowing them to raise their profile and strengthen their brand in 2020.

Strengthening your brand

We wrote about strengthening your brand during a crisis back in March and the message still stands…

The businesses continuing with their marketing, PR and Awards strategies will be the ones that come out on top.

Award-winning businesses are more profitable, have more engaged employees and stakeholders, and benefit from more valuable PR than their non-award-winning competitors.

Throughout financial recessions, the brands who’ve pulled back on their marketing have found themselves overtaken by the successful brands who were brave enough to keep going.

So to help you through, look at the awards that can be fantastic business-strengtheners. The awards that will raise your profile and boost your business growth despite any crisis.

How to Win Awards in 2020/21

  1. Be Honest – tell the judges you’ve had a tough time, tell them what your specific challenges have been and how you’ve overcome, adapted or created new opportunities.
  2. Focus on the positives – have you continued to provide an outstanding customer and/or employee experience? Awards often look back up to 18 months ago, so if you’ve had good results in that time let the judges know!
  3. Prove your claims – don’t just tell the judges you are diverse, a good employer, provide an outstanding customer service etc. – prove it with evidence!

If you can do all of these whilst meeting the criteria of the category you are entering and in a well-written entry, you will have a really good chance of winning.

We’re here for you

If you need a chat about anything, or need our professional support then get in touch, we’d love to talk to you.

We have a selection of packages and solutions suited to all budgets and tailored to your needs, to ensure you get the guidance you need to win the most valuable business awards.

Find out if you’re ready to win by taking our Business Award Test. In less than 5-minutes, you will know your current strengths when it comes to awards and exactly what you need to do to win.

And head to our blog for our awards tips, latest industry insights and awards news.

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Could you be Eligible for a Queen’s Honour?

Could you be Eligible for a Queen’s Honour?

The honours system rewards people for their outstanding achievements, those who have shown great commitment to serving and supporting Britain, and those who have demonstrated exceptional service to their industries, communities and professional disciplines.

read more