The Truth about Winning a Small Award by Sarah Ali Choudhury

The Magic of Panch Puron
30th October 2016
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https://thesmallawards.uk/apply

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How lucky am I?  I was the first ever winner of The New Kid on the Block by The Small Awards that took place on 25th May 2017.  Receiving that standard email that celebrates that you’ve been shortlisted and the event is taking place at Spitalfields,London is a pretty damn great feeling but along with that comes the anxiety of  “oh yeah, but I probably won’t win?!” , because let’s face it, we all want to win, don’t we?!

The build up to the event gave me an opportunity to explore what exactly The Small Awards were.  Whenever I had a free moment I would log in the site and check out the updates, look for what else was happening, check out the sponsors, I read pretty much everything there was available to find out more about it. 

Awards are great at keeping secrets.  They drip feed you with info that will excite you, keep you on your toes but they don’t give anything away.  They have a “no-hint’s” philosophy!  

I must admit though, that a mere £40 that I invested in myself – yes, I nominated myself (and so can you) it was the best £40 I have ever spent in my life! This small investment bagged me 2 free tickets to one of the most incredible events I have ever been to, including an exclusive dining experience for two.  Not to mention that the evening was hosted by former Great British Bake Off’s Sue Perkins.  Sue is not to be taken lightly.  She is the most humble, down-to-earth and hilarious presenter one could wish for, she kept the crowd entertained throughout the event.  There was Prosecco, canapés and even a Captains Hat for a selected member of each table.  Our table Captain was my dad!  

So what was the process and how did it happen?

I saw an advert for The Small Awards.  When clicked on, it had the requirements listed and I fitted into that category so I registered my interest.  That was initially all I did.  I just registered my interest.  I immediately got an email thanking me for my interest.

A couple of weeks later I was sent another email to sign up….which I ignored. And then I got another email telling me to get in at the early bird price, which I still ignored. 

A few days later I saw a Facebook advertisement (about 2 weeks after registering) saying that Facebook was the headline sponsor for The Small Awards.  Well you can’t go wrong with that, can you?  Imagine if you win, I thought to myself, you’d be all over Facebook!  With that, I looked for the early bird email (that’s the asian part of me!) and the process was simple, you fill in a registration form, complete an extremely simple form about you and your business, attach your social media handles, pay the fee and you’re done.  Honestly, It was a simple as that.  NO FUSS.  

Did, I think twice about it?  Yes, I did!  Why?  Because I am a mum of 4, I don’t ever spend a penny on myself unless I think it’s worth it.  I hadn’t heard of The Small Awards and didn’t know anyone else who had however, in my opinion that wasn’t a valid reason not to enter.  So, I got out my card and paid the fee.  I mean come on, in comparison to most awards it was a simple process, in fact it was so simple that it was done on my phone while waiting to collect a prescription at my local pharmacy.  Less that 10 minutes and £40 later I entered myself for a Small Award.

I almost immediately received a confirmation email to thank me for entering and that was it. I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t expect anything more for a couple of months at least but about 2 weeks later I received another email congratulating me on being shortlisted but these were the other conditions – You had to be a part of their “secret society”, YOU MUST NOT TELL ANYONE!  I told one person, my Dad, not that it made a difference as on the night of the event when Dad saw me on the cinema screen along with all the other shortlisted businesses he was shocked and said, “I think you’ve been shortlisted because your picture is on the screen!”  I stared at dad blankly and then looked at the other shortlisted guests on my table who smiled at me and said “Ahhh bless!”

Cutting a long story short the evening was filled with brilliant company, music, food and entertainment. It’s one of those types of events that have been planned so well, with so much thought put into every minor detail.  You can tell that every person involved in making that event what it was had experience and knowledge of what they were doing.

Before I go on to mention about when Sue Perkins got to the  category of New Kid on the Block I will just say that a few minutes earlier we were speaking to some other guests who asked about my business and if I was here to pick up an award.  Given the ambience of the ceremony I responded that I was here because I had been shortlisted but wasn’t expecting to win (looking at the the other businesses and their set up’s I felt like a tiny fish in a big ocean.)  Dad, followed me up on that one by saying that “Oh,its not about winning….!”  in which we both replied “Yes it is”!.  Because it is, isn’t it!

Finally we were on my category and as the gold envelope opened, for me it was all in slow motion because I spent the whole evening believing I wouldn’t win but when that envelope was being opened I wanted to win so much.  Then they announced my name.  That is the moment that is an indescribable feeling of immense happiness, mainly because this was a first time for me winning an award but also because I had my favourite person in the world next to me at this special moment in my life….oh and I got all of this for £40!!!! I told you I was asian!

Anyone with a small business and looking to grow really should put themselves forward for a Small Award. It doesn’t end with just winning the award, I got a hug from Sue Perkins, a beautiful glass star award, a moment of being fussed over by a journalist, the behind the scenes at the Small Awards taking photos and doing Facebook Live’s.  I have heard great things about Small Business Saturday too.  Having just recently registered with them I am looking forward to seeing how much further they can help push my business.  You can register at www.smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this, please feel free to ask any questions or comment.  This is my first ever blog too so any feedback would be really useful. On an end note I would like to very heartily Thank everyone at The Small Awards for making me your choice of New Kid on the Block and also for a wonderful evening and all the help you have given so far and what is yet to come and also a big Thank you to my dad Rafique Choudhury for being the amazing person that he is and of-course my mum for supporting, encouraging and inspiring me all the way!

If like me, you want and need help to get your business more recognised I urge you to register your interest in The Small Awards at  https://thesmallawards.uk/apply

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4 Comments

  1. Minhazul Islam says:

    Congratulations and bravo…!! So happy.

  2. Akbar Sami says:

    Well Congratulations to you Sarah. And wish you the best for your future. This is only the beginning, I’m sure you are gonna shine like a star in your business and become very successful. I loved your blog and the way you have explained your experience, keep it up, loads of luck. And yeah.. keep smiling.

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