Reflection and Perspective – a personal view by David Edwards-Brown

Whilst DEB made the shortlist of five in two out of ten awards categorise at the Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce Business Awards, the ceremony for which was held at Magna on Friday evening, we left empty-handed as we did not win either award.  Whilst disappointed for our team at DEB, who attended the night in force, I left the evening in an upbeat reflective mood about taking part in such business awards.

Whilst we did not win, we still remain the only accountant making the shortlist this year, as we were last year.  Indeed we were the only professional firm of any kind.  It is evident that in the categories that we entered size matters.  We were competing against businesses that have huge budgets and resources to fund innovation and technology, and for addressing the impact that they make on the environment.

From the criteria set for each category it is evident that the factors that matter are improving turnover, high profitability, boosting exports, and increasing employment.  DEB has always been run with two key motivating factors; maximising the benefits to our clients and providing them with the best value for money; and maximising the welfare of our highly valued and dedicated team members.  Neither of these categories naturally leads to high turnover or high profits.  As our catchment area is mainly within Yorkshire we have no opportunity to export.  As we develop innovative software this helps reduce the need for labour input and thus we inevitably do not expand our staff and increase employment.

Given the significance of the above factors that are at the forefront of most awards criteria, it is even more surprising that DEB makes the shortlists at all.  And yet we do on a regular basis.  In fact, despite Friday night’s results, we seem to specialise in being runners-up in many of the awards that we have entered.  Thus, despite not having the main criteria set for most awards as key drivers in DEB; despite not having the big budgets that other businesses have available; and despite being in a business sector that struggle to make the shortlists, we still generally do pretty well.  The conclusion that we can take from this is that we must be doing something right and consequently cannot be overlooked.  It is this thought that poured solace over my initial feeling of disappointment at not winning.  It is my hope that, on reflection, our team at DEB can view it in the same manner.

Consequently, rather than being disappointed at not achieving what we had hoped for, I left feeling surprisingly upbeat.  There is always another year to aim at.  I am aware of some of the exciting things that we currently have in development, which will enable us to compete again next year.  There still remains the drive to improve what we do for our clients and hopefully win local approval in awards in the years to come.

 Why Bother?

Given the tinge of disappointment that all but the winners feel, one is left to ponder, is it worth the effort of applying for awards?  It involves lots of work, cost and time to make a reasonable entry for awards.  If all you perceive is the most likely outcome of failure – then why bother to enter?

My belief is that, despite the possibility of disappointment of not winning, which, let’s face it, is a prospect that the majority have to face, the benefits of being involved vastly outweigh the downsides:

  • There is the buzz of being involved.  I personally am enthusiastic enough and find it easy to create my own self-sustaining buzz.  However, the whole team get the buzz of being in the race.  Seeing the excitement throughout Magna on the night of the ceremony, it was evident that this applies to the others businesses involved.
  • The hope of achieving an award is important in spurring you on to do better in whatever you do.  If you do not win, you aspire to be better.  If you do win, then you feel great and it can drive you on to do more in the hope that you can win again.
  • There is a great sense of achievement in being one of the finalists: Everyone cannot be the winner, but even getting on the shortlist shows that you are, in some way, commendable and seen as such by an independent judging panel.
  • In a publicity-conscious world, the exposure that you get is bound to do you no harm.  The name of DEB Chartered Accountants was printed in the brochures, displayed on the screen, and announced by the MC.  Over 500 people in the room became aware of us.  In addition there is the publicity that you can raise before the event about the achievement of being shortlisted.
  • More than anything it singles you out amongst your peers.  You have to be ‘in it to win it’ as they say.  The fact that we were the only accountancy practice in the awards says something in itself.  In November we attend the British Accountancy Awards as the only representative of Yorkshire in the ‘Independent Firm of the Year – North England’ category.  We also are finalists in the Online Accountancy section and are one of only nine selected throughout the whole of the UK. Whilst you may not achieve the status of being number one in the country, it is only important how you rank in the catchment area where you do business.  In this regard we appear to have little competition.
  • Awards provide you with an opportunity to match yourselves up against others and see how you fare.  There is always a need to try and do better but seeing how you stand against others gives you a degree of perspective that enables you to review what you have done and more importantly what you are going to do in the future.

Call to Action

It is true to say that not everyone can win awards.  It is, however, more true to say, that you stand no chance of winning awards if you do not enter.  Every business is likely to have awards that it can apply for.  For the reasons indicated above, I feel that they can have a very positive impact upon you personally and provide a welcome boost for your business. There are likely to be lots of things that make you special and good at what you do, that you simply take for granted.  By applying for the awards it brings home to you what you are good at, and perhaps where some improvements can be made.

The exposure and publicity that comes along with being shortlisted is bound be of benefit to your business.  You may feel that you have no chance of achieving this, but you simply will not know if you do not try.  You simply never know the priorities that will prevail with the judging panel so do not defeat yourself at the first hurdle by underestimating yourself.

You may feel that you would find it difficult to put what is good and special about your business into words and would struggle with completing the application.  However, there are people out there that can help you in this regard.  We can recommend the services of Lucinda White at Pure Event Management who has helped DEB in this regard.

Win or Lose

Whether you win or lose, I think you and your business could benefit from being involved in business awards.  You certainly will get encouragement from me.  If this is an area that interests you please do not hesitate to contact me.

David Edwards-Brown