Get Ready for the Great British Entrepreneur Awards

The finalists of the Great British Entrepreneur Awards give us a glimpse at what it takes to become an award-winning entrepreneur.

September sees the Great British Entrepreneur Awards. Held virtually, this year, they will as ever be a chance to celebrate everything that is great about entrepreneurship. 2020’s edition could be even more important than ever as entrepreneurs face an unprecedented challenge in the shape of COVID 19. By looking at this year’s finalists, then, we see examples of what it takes to succeed in the most difficult of circumstances.

“Given what we’ve seen over the past few months, the 2020 edition of the Great British Entrepreneur Awards is arguably the most important,” says awards founder, Francesca James. “Now, more than ever, it’s vital that we celebrate the achievements of the country’s entrepreneurs and their determination in the face of such adversity.”

So, what lessons can these awards offer?

Be good

Interest in ethical business has surged over the past few years, partly because we’ve been given so many examples of what happens when business behaves badly. Ethical consumerism hit record highs in 2019, according to a report from the Cooperative and businesses of all kinds feel the pressure to be seen as being ‘good’.

The last decade has also seen a surge in the number of social businesses. Run by ethical entrepreneurs these blend a financial return with a desire to do good. These firms have attracted plenty of interest with social impact investment, in which investors want a social as well as financial return, is growing faster than ever.

This year’s awards, showcase some fantastic and simple ideas such as Ed Bird, who can already call himself an ‘award winning entrepreneur’. His range of stylish sunglasses was created out of a desire to combine his skills as a designer with his desire to do good in the world.

For every purchase of his sunglasses, they will distribute solar light through their partnership with the charity Solar Aid.

“When I heard about the work Solar Aid were doing in remote communities in Africa, replacing toxic kerosene lamps with clean, efficient solar lights, I knew I wanted to work with them. ‘Share Your Sun’ is about business with purpose; sunglasses that look and feel great, and contribute to a more sustainable world.”

His vision was to create a ‘product with a purpose’ and his success in doing so shows how interested consumers are in purchases which will do a bit of good in the world.

Get things done

The entrepreneurial spirit award celebrates that intangible quality most successful entrepreneurs possess, the ability to get things done. The awards organisers say this category celebrates an entrepreneur who leads the way for their business – an individual who is all about getting things done and leading the charge.

This includes qualities such as having a growth mindset, spotting an opportunity and taking leadership through tough situations and this year’s finalists all, in their different ways, have this in spades.

Nick Lock, for example of Devon based Trevisick Pie Emporium has already been recognised by the Stelios Disabled Entrepreneur awards and was among the Great Taste Winners of 2019. As well as managing to push their business forward against the COVID 19 headwinds, they recently became the first pie bakery to be certified palm oil free. This represents an enormous undertaking in which all their ingredients have to be checked to ensure palm oil makes no unexpected appearances in the supply chain.

Their success shows that hard work, perseverance and determination, along with an excellent product, will take you a long way in this world.

Be a leader

Innovation is key for any successful entrepreneur and this year’s Disruptor award celebrates those entrepreneurs who have not only found a unique selling point, they have disrupted their entire industry.

One of these is early stage biotech company Crispr Biotech Engineering. Focusing on advanced genome engineering, it is looking to develop new ways in which diseases can be treated. It is part of a revolution in the so called CRISPR technology sector which uses genome editing to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

While you don’t have to produce something as high tech or disruptive as this, successful entrepreneurs will be those who manage to do something differently. This might be a brand new product which people didn’t know they wanted until they found out about it, or a new twist on an existing idea.

The market is crowded and, while there are plenty of very good companies out there, it’s the ones which are doing something nobody else is which will really stand out from the crowd.

Know when to pivot

The last category comes very much with Coronavirus in mind. With the global pandemic shutting many businesses around the country, entrepreneurs have had to think fast to avoid disaster.

For Charlie and Natalie Taylor the pandemic couldn’t have come at a worse time. The couple had quit their jobs to realise their dream of opening a wine bar in Bristol. However, barely six months after they opened their doors, along came COVID 19 and closed them again.

Rather than panic, they reacted quickly. Even before Government restrictions were put in force, they had launched KASK to your door delivering wine directly to the doorstep. A planned Spanish Wine tasting event went virtual which resulted in their hosting weekly virtual wine tastings for their followers.

The result was that, despite the challenges of the pandemic, they have emerged bigger, better and stronger out the other side. They even turned their struggles into a PR opportunity with a very nice feature in Vogue.

Theirs is a story of how entrepreneurs can use adversity to thrive. Events will seldom go to plan. The one thing you can expect is the unexpected; what matters will be how you react to the challenges which come your way.

These awards, then, will be a chance to celebrate the achievements of these entrepreneurs and all the other finalists, but for those watching on they will also provide inspiration which all of us can use in our business lives. Each of them, in their different ways, showcase some of the ingredients which set award winning entrepreneurs apart from the pack.