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Small Business Awards: A winner’s perspective

  • 12 September 2018

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), which was founded in 1974 to help support self-employed people in the UK, holds an annual awards ceremony to recognise the best small businesses in the country.

Vegan-friendly health foods retailer Creative Nature, was chosen as the overall winner of the FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards for 2018.

Creative Nature’s founder and chief executive Julianne Ponan says that the whole experience really helped her business, and she enjoyed getting to compete against her contemporaries on both a regional and national level.

“It feels absolutely incredible, it was such a surprise,” said Ms Ponan.

“We’ve gained national and international recognition from winning the award, including an article in the Flybe in-flight magazine and lots of other media coverage.”

Creative Nature, which is based in West Molesey, Surrey, was started in 2011 because Ms Ponan wanted to be able to eat nut-free healthy snacks that were free from additives.

She realised that it would be better to create her own, and so she developed her own range, and then bought an existing struggling homeware and superfoods company with the aim of turning it into something successful.

Together with her partner Matthew Ford, she spent three years transforming the brand and introducing new products, starting with no experience in running a business, no contacts and no funds.

And despite these obstacles, including a risky decision to turn its back on funding from the Dragon’s Den and go it alone, Creative Nature has succeeded in growing its business to such an extent that it also won the FSB’s Scale Up Business of the Year Award.

“I’m thrilled to be recognised as the FSB Small Business of the Year 2018. As a small business, innovation is the key to the sustainability of our successful business performance. We constantly focus on developing new and exciting products,” said Ms Ponan.

The FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards are open to both members and non-members, and entries are free. There are 11 categories of awards and there is no limit on the number of categories you can enter.

As part of the process, the FSB will evaluate your business and analyse its strengths and weaknesses, and makes it possible for companies to see where they stand on a benchmark against their competition.

And the overall winner gets an additional prize of being allowed to open the London Stock Exchange.

Ms Ponan particularly enjoyed having this unusual opportunity, but even if Creative Nature hadn’t won, she would still have wanted to participate.

“I would definitely recommend other businesses enter in 2019 as it gives your business so much credibility being a national award, even if you don’t win it’s such a great networking opportunity,” she said.

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FSB Awards from FSB

The free to enter FSB awards are open to all small businesses across the UK in every sector and industry

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