Small Business Sunday 2024 event – with Theo Paphitis

Last Friday I attended the 11th Theo Paphitis Small Business Sunday #SBS event at the ICC in Birmingham and what a fantastic day it was.  It’s a very energising event -motivating, inspiring and so much more!

It was only my second-year attending having been lucky enough to win in October 2022.

I travelled there on Thursday to meet up with lots of other petpreneurs who were also winners and had a very enjoyable evening with them.

Here is a snapshot of the day of the things that I took away and found inspiring.

Friday morning, we headed over to the ICC around 9.30am so that we could make the most of checking out the sponsors stands, network and join the queue for a free headshot.  Myself and a fellow petpreneur just managed to get one done and make it back to our seats before the event formally kicked off.

The event was opened by Kypros Kyprianou who is Group Chief Executive for the Theo Paphitis Retail Group, and he’s such a lovely person.  He spoke about the fact that every year when he’s preparing for the event, there always seems to be something happening that makes life hard for small businesses. This year it’s inflation, conflict and interest rates and he commented on a great quote he loved by Rocky Balboa. 

“It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward.”

This was a great reference to emphasise the need for resilience as a small business owner.

Kypros Kyprianou speaking about Rocky Balboa

Theo Paphitis then came on stage, and he is such a great champion of small businesses and really encourages you to keep going and pushing yourself out there because no one else will!!  He spoke about how being a small business owner was a great feeling but also a very scary one at the same time. He stressed the importance of planning for tomorrow and the need to be aware of what was going on in the world around you.

To quote Theo, “you need to be adapting your business, creating new lines, disputing your sector.”

My biggest take away from the great man was Plan, plan, plan!!  Take time out to plan – it’s a must!!

Theo Paphitis #SBS

We were also treated to a fantastic talk from Darryl Partridge and Kirstie Kavanagh from Google Digital Garage all about using AI in our marketing and the foundations of marketing strategy,

Darryl Partridge and Kirstie Kavanagh from Google Digital Garage

but the one thing that was made clear when using AI use it as a tool to help you get started, give you inspiration but don’t let it do everything for you – people buy people, so you need to personalise your message and be authentic.

We heard from Susan Bonnar the founder of the British Craft House and how – after winning SBS and listening to the fireside chat with Sir Tom Hunter speaking his words “You can overcome every obstacle,” – it really felt like he was just speaking with her. The next day while on her daily run she wrote her business plan to expand her small business and take it to the next level!

Once again NatWest gave a great talk on the sofa with #SBS Winners and business owners who had been part of their brilliant Accelerator Programme. 

We heard from Maxine Laceby – Absolute Collagen, Sanjay Aggarwal – Spice Kitchen and Shalom Lloyd – Naturally Tiwa Skincare who shared their insight on how they achieved their milestone in their businesses and how they came about – all just from a small seed or a need to find something to help them.

This year’s fireside chat was with Stacey Solomon who shared her story, her experiences, and the daily juggle of the work-life balance.  The one thing that all the speakers championed was that as a small business you don’t have to do it alone – surround yourself with people who can help you with things you are not so good at and it’s ok to ask for help.

Another big part of the whole event for me is getting to meet up with all the fantastic petpreneurs that are a part of my world. We network and chat all the time online but it’s not often we get the chance to all come together as a group in person, so it’s wonderful when we can. I am so grateful for this amazing community that I’m a part of. 

Pet business winners of #SBS
Pet business winners of #SBS


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