Why the SBBC Awards are Worthwhile – Even if You Don’t Win

Tips & Guides

Each year, we hear from business owners who don’t think they have a chance to win our Small Business BC Awards. They’re worried the competition is too intense, or they don’t have enough of a community to gather the required votes. The truth is, our Awards aren’t intended to be exclusively about winning. Instead, they are best viewed as an investment in your business. Even if you don’t take home first place, being a part of the experience can be incredibly rewarding in several ways.

We reached out to several Awards alumni to get their thoughts on how the awards process went for them. While they didn’t win, they came away stronger for having participated.

Twirling Umbrellas – Best Marketer (Top 5, 2018)

Take the example of Twirling Umbrellas. Chris Stephens and his staff of marketing experts initially entered our awards in 2018, vying for our Best Marketer category in one of our most competitive fields ever. Placing in our Top 5 back then, Twirling Umbrellas used their experience to take an objective look at their business and build a strong culture.

“Back in 2018, we were nominated in the SBBC Awards for the first time. To be honest, I had been working hard to grow the business and wasn’t super aware of the competition. We had just five members on our team then and we were operating out of our very first office,” Chris explains.

“In the end, we made it all the way to the Top 5 of the Best Marketing category. We were really grateful for the experience and it was so valuable comparing ourselves to the other finalists. It helped us put our business into context. We saw what other businesses were doing and it highlighted where we needed to be to match them.

“I actually think it was a big part of starting the culture we now have at Twirling Umbrellas. That recognition of our early efforts, as a small agency, meant so much to us and we got a lot out of it. In the time since then, we continued to grow and do our own thing, slowly adding team members. We were nominated again for the 2020 Awards and I felt like we were in such a stronger position to be considered a genuine candidate to win.”

Catoro Cafe

Catoro Cafe – Best Community Impact (Top 5, 2020)

Catoro Café has quickly become an East Vancouver institution, promoting animal welfare, mental wellness and a focus on sustainability. They have worked to place hundreds of cats in loving homes, while providing a fun atmosphere for visitors to hang out and interact with new four-legged friends.

General Manager, Nathan Chan, details the benefits they enjoyed rom participating in the 2020 SBBC Awards.

“When we received our nomination, we had been open just under a year. It was a great honour to get that opportunity and we were very grateful for it.

“As a relatively new company, we had been running day-to-day and month-to-month, thinking only of what we could do at that moment. Having to pitch our business to the panel of judges gave us the opportunity to look at our business from a different point of view and begin to plan more for the long term. We received a lot of critical feedback at this point that was incredibly valuable to our growth plan.

“I think the format of bringing local entrepreneurs and businesses together offers a fantastic way of networking and getting a sense of community with like-minded individuals who may have gone through the same challenges we did. From talking to them you gain a different perspective or a different solution to your shared problem.”

Eat the Dishes – Best Youth Entrepreneur (Top 5, 2020)

After a few years working in international travel, Marissa Bergeron became acutely aware of the waste inherent in our food consumption. She founded Eat the Dishes to highlight that street food can be high flavour, yet low waste. Her innovative business idea was a big hit in our Awards in 2020.

“The SBBC awards were an enriching experience for us at Eat the Dishes in many ways; we sharpened our public speaking skills while preparing for our pitch, increased our network of likeminded business connections, booked new events due to our exposure as an award candidate, and finally actually carved out a moment to celebrate our achievements in our first year in business (something often neglected in the small business world).

“We would recommend the SBBC awards to any small business—worth every moment!”

The GeoScan Team. Top 5 in Best Employer at the 2020 SBBC Awards.

GeoScan – Best Employer (Top 5, 2020)

GeoScan are another business that benefitted from their Awards nomination, making it all the way to the Top 5 of Best Employer in 2020. Geoscan rallied their community behind their cause, grabbing a huge number of votes before impressing our judges on pitching day.

GeoScan’s Operations Manager, Joe Salazar, explains the benefits they received from participating:

“Participating in the Awards gave us a chance to get valuable exposure with the BC small business community while celebrating the achievements of our hard working team.

“We’ve always tried to create an amazing culture here at GeoScan and the Awards let us compare the work we’d put in with other businesses of a similar size. It gave us a zoomed out look at ourselves, helped us find areas for potential growth, and we made a ton of contacts that have been so useful for us in the last year.”

Lil’ Worker Safety Gear – Best Concept (Top 5, 2017)

With his impressive product range of high-vis safety gear for kids, James Flawith and his Lil’ Worker Safety Gear proved a big hit in his appearance on CBC’s Dragon’s Den a couple of years ago. He also came close to winning our Best Concept Award back in 2017.

While James didn’t win, his journey through the Awards proved worthwhile in several ways.

“Well, we made it right to the end of the competition, narrowly missing out on top spot. I had a great time, made a whole bunch of connections and got some invaluable experience going through the process.

“I learned a lot about myself and my company along the way. Events like the Small Business BC Awards push entrepreneurs to improve, and even though I didn’t win, just participating really opened my eyes to what’s possible if you work hard and persist.”

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