When I bumped into Accountings Web's Tom Herbert at the ICB's Bookkeeping Summit this week I was a little embarassed to be reminded about how I'd written a blog post earlier in the year about why I wasn't going to attend a bookkeeping conference! Having taken the practice from tiny side hustle to full time job this summer though, I thought that actually it might be a good idea to attend so that I could get a technical update, network and spend time with my subcontractors, and I can't deny that the lure of two days in a spa hotel appealed somewhat.
I was also lucky enough to be shortlisted for the ICB's prestigious Small Practice of the Year Luca Award. Having been in business for just under two years, I honestly felt a bit arrogant putting myself forward for an award, but the truth is that awards, being shortlist for an award and even just going through the process to put yourself forward for an award is great for business and here's why.
1. The application process makes you think about the business
Going through the application process made me really look back on what I've achieved this year. For anybody who's been following my journey I was running the business as a side project until the summer and left my job to go full time this August. Since then I've been thinking about the business structure, what that means for staffing, the services we offer and the way we work with our clients. I also had the opportunity to go back through reviews from my clients to see what I'd been doing well and all of that analysis really made me think strategically about the business, where the business stood, and what I wanted for the future.
2. Awards nominations raise your profile in the industry
There's nothing that gets your name around more than winning something. As it happens, and to my complete disbelief, I won that award, and since I got up on that stage, countless people have come up to me and said "you won an award didn't you?". Having your work acknowledged by a big player in your industry means you're in the spotlight for the right reasons and that instantly raises your profile and makes you a go-to person.
3. It looks great to customers
Being able to tell my clients they were working with a practice which had been shortlisted for an award was fantastic. They already knew and trusted the business from the work we've done together, but having a panel of judges verify that you're doing a great job really adds credibility to your business, and shows that you're an expert at what you do.
4. It looks great to potential customers
Winning an award ultimately helps me to differentiate and stand out from other practices. Potential customers coming to the website will also have an extra level of reassurance about the quality of the service they can expect from a business which is award winning before they reach out for a quote.
5. It's an incredible PR opportunity
Winning awards is free advertising. The ICB invested a lot of money in the awards ceremony this week and they'll want to talk about it over the coming weeks and months then they'll be talking about it again in the run up to the same awards next year. That's a whole year's worth of advertising, and that's quite an added bonus.
So there are benefits whether you win the award, whether you're shortlist or whether you just put yourself forward. I went to the awards dinner this week just feeling incredibly proud to have been shortlisted, being one of a handful of businesses to be shortlisted for a national award is no mean feat and really should be shouted about. Congratulations to all of the Luca Award winners and finalists this week. There was so much achievement there in that room, and the ICB Summit was definitely quite an event to be a part of... maybe I will go along next year after all.
About Zoe Whitman
Zoe runs But the Books, a bookkeeping practice in Bristol helping small businesses owners who know how to do everything for their business... but the books to stay on top of their bookkeeping and to understand the story their numbers are trying to tell them.