How did it get to November? Already I am being inundated with pictures of friends of mine growing their ‘Movember‘ moustache for charity, a sure sign that the year is marching on!
November is a key time in the calendar of those involved in supporting small businesses and start ups in the UK, and there are some great events worth looking out for if you are an aspiring entrepreneur. I am biased of course, but kicking things of for Global Entrepreneurship Week (14-20 Nov) is the fabulous Shell LiveWIRE LIVE! event and awards ceremony for the Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2011- have a look at the finalists if you have a moment, some great young people with some great ideas. We bring together around 200 entrepreneurs and speakers to mix things up and get people thinking about starting and running businesses. For my money, at this stage in a businesses life, one of the most single most important things is to get out networking and forge friendships and alliances that will help you in the future. It is vital that entrepreneurs starting out get their name out there, and test ideas by talking to other people- gaining important feedback along the way and refining ideas. The only people who can give you feedback about your ideas are other people! It sounds obvious (and it is!), but people forget this all the time.
This leads nicely onto awards… Awards are a great mechanism to gain exactly the same- recognition and feedback. If I look at some of the followup sound bites and feedback from people who have won one of the monthly awards at Shell LiveWIRE, two things always appear in the feedback- Profile and Confidence. Often when people apply for an award, they are just thinking of the prize at the end, but there is so much more to applying than first meets the eye;
1) Awards are a chance to test ideas. Fundamentally, awards can be used to test your thinking to an independent panel of judges. Most awards will give you feedback on the application- and if they don’t they should do, as it is a key part of the process. There are now hundreds of awards for businesses in the UK, and yes, winning funding is great- but the experience (through the process of applying) and profile that is gained from getting involved is vital.
2) Awards are a tool to give you profile. Even if you don’t win, way before that, you should be going straight to the press getting an article in the paper to say you are in the running. Probably one of the single most important things when in the early stages of business is profile- how do people buy your goods if they don’t know you are there?
My advice at this time of year is to get out there and see what events are near you- more importantly offer to help or speak at some of the events- Profile is everything, and there are some great opportunities- have a look at www.gew.org.uk to see what events there are during GEW week.