Today’s guest blog is from Rachel Carnac, co-founder of Metal Events - Winner of The Queen's Award for Enterprise - International Trade.
As a micro-business it was with some trepidation that we took the decision to enter the Queen's Awards for Enterprise. We went through all those agonising questions before even downloading the entry form which boiled down to: did we have any chance of winning? With just 2 employees in the company during the period of the award we wondered if it we were too small to take part. Metal Events Ltd started in 2002 and is still run by its co-founders Rachel Carnac and Jill Fitzgibbon. We have recently expanded to take on another full-time employee and are looking to grow again by taking on a sales person specialising in the Asian markets. The company develops and organises conferences for the global metals and mining industries.
We first entered the 2012 Awards and were short-listed but did not win. Although we were disappointed we received feedback from the judging panel which was very useful and encouraged us to reapply. They suggested that if we entered again we needed to consider factors such as how as a small, young company we could carry our success forward and keep that momentum while expanding the business. These are obviously all things that we consider in developing our future business strategy, but are not subjects that we had considered mentioning in our application.
When we decided to enter the 2013 Awards, we took on board the panel's feedback and reappraised the previous year's entry. It was interesting to read back with more objective eyes and to see that on some of the entries where, for instance, it asks what difficulties the company has overcome that we were quite reticent and should have given fuller responses. At the time of entering the 2012 Awards, we had just suffered a fire in our office block, which meant that we had to relocate at short notice and during our busiest time of the year. We didn't mention this extremely testing time for our business in the 2012 Awards entry!
Certainly the online entry form and briefing notes were vastly improved when we entered the 2013 Awards. The Queen's Awards Office has taken on board feedback from entrants and made it clearer what the judges are looking for in the entry.
We are extremely proud to have won an award this year. As a micro-business it means a huge amount to us particularly as we feel it validates our business model and is a very public expression of the success of our company. In the difficult business conditions that continue to persist it is also a great boost to morale to win. It can often feel that as a small business you are not taken as seriously as your bigger competitors and winning this Award gives a clear message that size isn't everything!
We were very lucky a few weeks ago to have the opportunity to speak to the Queen at the reception at Buckingham Palace for Awards winners. It was a wonderful moment never to be forgotten. The Award has also resonated with our business partners and customers across the world. We would certainly encourage any company that is thinking of entering to have a go as it is a worthwhile exercise and you may win. We definitely aim to enter again in the coming years.’