In the August of 2016, we were thrilled and delighted that our small business, Pure Punjabi, was selected for SmallBiz100 2016. We’d wanted to apply the year before, but circumstances had delayed us in getting our information together, while trying to run and expand the cookery school, food events and spice product business.
The application process.
Applications opened for the 2016 Small Business Saturday on the 1st of June and the deadline to apply was midnight of Thursday the 30th of June.
The application also required a video to be produced, but unfortunately, Safia was away in London when we realised, that we ideally needed to be at the same location, in order to put the video together and get it uploaded.
Not to be deterred, Safia set about recording the introduction and the ending to the video by balancing her iphone on a washing line in the London flat and then sending me the recordings via WhatsApp.
Meanwhile,at Pure Punjabi HQ in Downton on the Hampshire /Wiltshire border, I set about editing various video clips and photos from previous pop-up restaurants, cookery schools and events from the last three years. I had never done any video editing or even opened the imovies application on my Macbook before, so this was initially somewhat challenging, however, I soon got to grips with it, although it took a solid couple of days to complete the video.
Here’s how the video turned out…luckily good enough to get us through!
We got the video uploaded to YouTube just in time, with the usual deadline angst, and then decided to forget all about it! What absolute joy when we got the email to say that the decision had been made for the selection of the 100, and we had been chosen! Of course we had to keep absolutely quiet about it until the Small Business Saturday team in London were ready to release the details.
The Small Business Saturday campaign focuses upon featuring 100 small businesses from across the United Kingdom and from every sector and industry, over a period of 100 days. Each business is allocated a specific day, within the 100 day period, culminating in the final day, which is the first Saturday in December. This officially marks the first day of Christmas shopping. The campaign encourages the consumer to support small business by shopping locally and it highlights the contribution that the 5.4 million small businesses make to the economy.
The 100 days.
We were finally allowed to tell friends and family the exciting news about our selection as one of the SmallBiz100, once we got the official go-ahead from the Small Business Saturday team on the 12th of August. (The Guardian newspaper had actually printed the list of the chosen 100 that same day. Click here for the list of 2016 businesses).
As soon as we knew the names of the other 99 SmallBiz100, we immediately started connecting with them on Twitter and following them on Facebook and Instagram and starting to get involved in the campaign and raising awareness of small business.
However, in early August, we still didn’t know which of the 100 days would be ‘our’ company day? We knew that the campaign started on August the 26th, so when we asked which day would be ‘our’ day, we were really delighted to be told that…
we were Day 1…
and that we would be the first of the SmallBiz100 to be featured and would kick off the launch.
Having got to grips with imovie, we felt it was time to make a Day 1 thank you video.
On the big day, Friday the 26th of August, we were glued to our social media channels, from first thing until past midnight, tweeting and posting on Facebook and Instagram as the Small Business Saturday team put out information about us, mainly on Twitter, throughout the day. Then over the next 99 days, we stayed extra-active on social media and connected with each of the other 99 small businesses as we watched their videos and learned about their businesses.
The Blue Tie Ball
Although this was the 4th year of the Small Business Saturday campaign in the U.K. the London H.Q. had decided to hold the first Blue Tie Ball, to raise money for the Royal Marsden Hospital and to celebrate the life of SmallBiz alumni, Francesca Kemp.
On Thursday the 8th of September…wearing saris in shades of blue, we made our way to Bankside Hilton Hotel in London for a sumptuous dinner and the opportunity to meet the other SmallBiz100 and the Small Business Saturday team.
From Downton to Downing Street
The campaign neared the final days with an exciting, once-in-a-lifetime’s invitation for Pure Punjabi to attend a reception at No. 10 Downing Street. As only one person per business could attend, Safia had the privilege and honour of representing our business.
It was quite a surreal experience, especially when Safia was inside Downing Street, coming down the staircase looking at portraits of all the Prime Ministers and came level with the portrait of Winston Churchill, signed by the man himself. It’s certainly something to be remembered forever.
What would we say to other small businesses in 2017?
We’d thoroughly recommend that all small businesses, as well as consumers, get behind the Small Business Saturday campaign and make the effort to apply to be part of the SmallBiz100 chosen each year. We’d advise getting your video planned out well in advance and start collecting suitable photos, video clips, testimonials and product information as soon as possible. We found that using imovies to record our video was very user-friendly and easy to pick up, although some of the SmallBiz100 did have professional videos made.
The application process itself was very easy as well, and subscribing to the Small Business Saturday newsletter kept us informed. Our entry video was not only a collection or timeline of past events and achievements, but also closed with our plans for the future, which were to go global with e-learning video tuition of our cookery workshops. The filming had taken a year, but our strategy to have a plan to scale up on a global level across e-learning English speaking platforms and to show that we were planning for a future business that would embrace technology and the online digital world showed our potential for future business growth.
We’re so glad that we took the time to stop working in our business and work on it by making the application for SmallBiz100. It’s been a fantastic experience!
We’re happy to share our experience or give more details of the process and what we would do or not do differently
If you know a great small U.K. business, then forward this to them!