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Why are business awards so important?

Due to our latest success with becoming nominees and winners of varied business awards, we thought we would get the opinion of one of our interviewers for Thames Valley Tech Awards, Nicky Larkin, of Goringe Accounts on why business awards are of great significance.

Why do you feel business awards are important to the business community?

Business awards are important as they give businesses huge recognition for the fantastic results they’ve achieved and the work they’ve done, making them stand out from the competition. This is not only great for attracting new customers but gaining strong recognition for success inspires and motivates your team, can help to attract top talent and is great for PR, marketing and brand reputation.

Why did you chose to sponsor the TVT awards?

The TV technology awards are well established and highly recognized for being one of the most credible awards in the region and do an extremely good job at pulling together a successful awards process and event.

The reason we chose to sponsor the Tech Leadership Team category was because technology is a sector we heavily specialize in, in providing finance services from VAT to Payroll to R&D Tax relief. By sponsoring the TVT awards and in particular our category, we’re giving the opportunity for the best technology companies and their leadership, to shine as the best in the region and, arguably the best in the country as the Thames Valley is deemed the tech hub of the UK.

What are you looking for in a good award submission?

An entry that shows outstanding achievement and, for our category, world class team leadership who were truly innovative and successful in their work.

Do you enter any business awards yourself?

We’ve proudly won awards such as ‘The Thames Valley Small Employer of the Year,’ at the National Apprenticeship Awards, listed as a Top 10 firm in the Accountancy Practice Excellence Award, and in 2017 I received the ‘Professional of The Year ‘Award at the NatWest Thames Valley Venus Awards.

Entering awards does take time and resource but should be an essential part of any business’s growth strategy so we aim to enter awards every other year.

What would your advice be to someone thinking of entering their first awards?

Coming back to my point about the time and effort it can take to enter awards, ensure that you focus on awards where you have the strongest evidence of success.

Don’t be scared to enter awards and when you find the right one for your business, then go for it. Read the entry criteria and judging guidelines thoroughly and carefully, and ensure to provide high quality information and evidence that’s relevant to the category – don’t be tempted to just rehash from previous award entries. Show how you are different and a worthy winner of that particular category.

If you would like to get in touch with Nicky personally in regards to Goringe Accounts, their website is hyperlinked, or you can follow Nicky’s twitter account at @GoringeAccounts.

 

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Leading the way at South Coast Business Awards

“No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit for doing it.”
— Andrew Carnegie, 19th-century business magnate and philanthropist.

As we cruised from Basingstoke to Southampton last Thursday night, heading for the South Coast Business Awards, the effervescence of a potential win overtook my mind.

Part of this year’s marketing plan has been to showcase our successes through business awards, it is a great way to meet new people, reconnect with old friends and update each other and most importantly bring the whole team together and show them that other people are impressed with their achievements.

Following our success at the Eagle Biz Surrey & Hampshire Awards in the category of “Digital Innovation” I felt we were all on a bit of a roll, submissions being shortlisted to finalist slots, interviews being requested as our story was clearly resonating with judging panels, it would be amazing if we could roll out of Southampton with another win under our belts.

We were finalists in two categories, “Best Use of Technology” & “Business leader of the year”, and all my eggs were in the former basket, I had studied the competition in my individual category and surely I was just there to make up the numbers.

Despite Liam’s best efforts we made it past the security check, who doesn’t put their Swiss Army knife into their tuxedo pocket? Right??

The surroundings of St Mary’s Stadium were sublime, the company exquisite, the atmosphere friendly, buzzing and excited. We had press photos on the pitch, squinting into the warm summer sunshine and then headed upstairs for dinner, bumping into friends from Paris Smith (more about them later) and The Knights Foundation on the way.

The first scientific proof that it was going to be a good night for us appeared on the table plan, Apps In The Sky – Table 13. Unlucky for some maybe, but 13 is my house number, 13 is Liam’s house number, Katie lives at number 4 so all we had to do there is figure out what 1 + 3 equals. It was written in the stars.

We were joined on the lucky table by Brymor Group whose own MD, Mark Dyer, was also in the category for Business Leader and their Chairman, Stephen Morton, nominated for the Entrepreneur Award.

Dinner was sublime, the after-dinner speaker Jez Rose (@thatjezrose ) was superb, his talk was funny, poignant, inspirational and educational, I have never been so enthralled listening to someone talk about bees but Jez runs the worlds first carbon-neutral bee farm and is making a positive impact on our world in many ways.

Did you know that UK tomato growers have to import 60,000 bees every year to get their plants pollinated as there aren’t enough bees in the UK!! And then once they have done their job the bees have to be destroyed – I was shocked and appalled with this. You can find out more here – www.beesforbusiness.com

We were then into the awards presentation, this is the bit where I desperately try not to zone out as I wait nervously for the categories we are listed in. Happy faces fill the room as people start to pick up awards and before we know it we are on to “Best Use of Technology” where we are pipped to the prize by Applied Driving Techniques who help deliver driver safety needs for companies. Congratulations folks!

The host rolled us through a few more awards and then it was here, “Business Leader” – the words emblazoned on a series of large screens around the room and my name there as a nominee – a little surreal. The category sponsor Peter Taylor of Paris Smith took to the stage and I am pretty sure I had an out of body experience as he read my name out as the winner as even I could see the total shock on my face. It was extra special to have Paris Smith as the category sponsor as we are currently working with them on a fantastic charity project for The Knights Foundation, please do take a look at our blog here.

The next few seconds were a blur, I remember uttering the words “no f**king way” and “wow” a number of times as I walked to the stage and I just about managed to pull myself together enough to say a few words, and they were really important words for me. “A business leader can only be recognised if he or she has a fantastic team to lead” and I certainly have that, an inspirational blend of skills and experience but all united by the common goal of self-improvement.

An award like this may appear on the surface to be recognition for an individual but it really is one for all the team to share and I am proud to be given the chance to lead them.

My one regret – we weren’t all there to celebrate together, but hey, you have to let people have holidays at some point right?

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Minimum Viable Product

Working with many diverse and different startups is one of the real pleasures of what we do, and it gives us insight into what succeeds and what fails. Naturally there are no guaranteed routes to success, but the ones that make it big always, without fail, get their Minimum Viable Product (MVP) right.

So, what’s an MVP?

Put simply it is the smallest set of features needed to test your new product in the marketplace.

Let’s say you have an idea for a product. You know that it’ll cost £100,000 to build and take to market. Naturally, you want to know if it’s worth remortgaging your life for. The idea of the MVP is to, as cheaply and quickly as possible, determine whether it’s worth the risk. The questions you need to ask are the most basic ones: Do people need your product? How much will they pay for it? And so, your entire focus in developing the first stage of that product is to answer those questions. If you spend a penny more, or a minute longer, creating something more than is needed to answer that, then you’re just wasting money.

What does an MVP look like?

Well, it depends on the product. Usually it’s a cut-down version with the simplest feature set needed to demonstrate it. It doesn’t actually even have to work: so long as you’re showing enough to demo what it could do, then that’s all you need. People can answer whether they’d use it or not.

To take one extreme, your MVP could even be just a picture on a piece of paper. Again, if it’s enough to show what the product does so that people can answer whether or not they’d use it, then it’s a completely valid MVP.

So where do people go wrong?

The most common wrong way to go about it is to think “what is the minimum set of features I need for the product to be usable?”. The difference is subtle but can literally be the difference between life and death of your new business.

You don’t need to create a usable product to test whether it’ll work in the marketplace. This can be a difficult thing to practice if, like us, you come from a world where user experience (UX) is everything. Indeed, the final product must provide a perfect UX – but the MVP explicitly must not. You almost never need configuration options, demos, user assistants, super-scalable back-ends for millions of users, or good graphic design. You don’t even need a good user interface. Obviously all of these things must come later – but they are superfluous, even a distraction, for the MVP.

One startup we worked with insisted that their MVP must run on 6 platforms: Android, iOS, Windows, OS X, Linux and web. This was enormously inefficient and, needless to say, they ran out of money, meaning that a potentially great product never got to market. All they needed to do was demo it on one platform, and a positive reception to this would have given their investors confidence to take it wider.

So, to conclude, build only what is necessary and cost-effective to test your product in the marketplace. That is your MVP: anything else is unnecessary. Don’t think of your MVP as a working product; instead, it’s the first step towards working out whether you should take an idea further.