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5 Top tips for writing business award entries

You have to be in it to win it, as they say.

Generally, there are two types of business awards.  Either you’re a nominee and win by popular vote or you need to submit a written entry.

If you’ve ever entered a business award, you’ll know from experience that writing a winning award entry isn’t as easy as seems and it’s pretty time consuming too. That’s why I recommend you start early and gather your evidence.

Many business make business awards a key component of their marketing strategy but still agree; it’s an all-consuming task and one that’s often left to the last minute or passed to the member of staff who is least busy at the time.

As well as great evidence, you need to be able to tell your story in a way that inspires and excites. The key is to write an attention-grabbing entry which gets your story across, brought to life with relevant and current evidence.  Read the entry criteria carefully and make sure your submission ticks all the boxes, including the word count.


5 Top tips for writing business award entries

Read the entry criteria carefully.  No two awards or categories are the same. Just because you entered your business for one award doesn’t mean the requirements will be the same for the others. Polish up any of your previous entries and bring them up to date with new achievements andevidence.

Find out who the judges are and what they are looking for? Think about how your achievement, project or campaign will appeal to the judges. What are they interested in?

Have you got any evidence?  It’s all very well saying what you’ve achieved but have you got the evidence to support your statements?  If not, how will you get it?

Key points: What are the key points you want the judges to know.  Keep this in mind as you write your submission. Remember, they know nothing about your business so you need to put things into context

Keep to the word count Think about using pictures instead.

When you’ve submitted your entry and if it’s successful, or gets through the first round, you may be asked to do a presentation to the judges and answer questions so allow enough time to prepare and practice.

If you need help with your award entry, whether it’s to facilitate evidence or write the submission. Call me today to find out more about our award-winning writing and presentation design service. 

Networking or Jelly

Is there an alternative to formal networking? Perhaps you need a Jelly

As it turns out, I’m not so comfortable with structured networking but as a small business, it’s one of those things you feel you have to do. Or do you?

As a virtual assistant, I spend much of the day working alone. Although quite happy with my own company, there are times when I could do with some team chatter and office banter. Then I found Jelly.

What’s Jelly?

It is a place where freelancers and home workers meet, work, chat and drink coffee.

Why did I choose Jelly?

Last year, I was a member of a national networking group.  I joined because I wanted some time out from my office now and again, with a chance to meet other people running a small business, like me. But, as the year went on and my work load increased, I was stretched for time but felt compelled to attend meetings and get my subscription money’s worth.

And networking worked.  Ultimately, it gave me some time out of the office, a very nice breakfast, I met a nice bunch of business owners and made good friends.  However, most people I meet say networking is a bit like marmite, you either love it or loathe it.

As it turns out, and for reasons I don’t quite understand, structured networking just turns me into a rabbit in the headlights.  Even though I’m an outgoing, sociable being, there’s a side of me that prefers a conversation to an unspoken agenda (we all know why we’re really here).  So I understand why some people would rather poke glass in their eye than network.  But as a small business, it’s one of those things you have to do. Or do you?

Because I enjoy getting out and about, so I looked to see what other things I could do instead and came across Knutsford Jelly. It’s local, free of charge and I can work whilst I’m there.

“Knutsford Jelly is an informal co-working event where freelancers, home workers, and small/micro business owners bring their laptop and work, chat and collaborate with other small business owners.”

If this sounds like your cup of tea, there are loads of Jelly meetings across the UK.

Is Jelly just another networking thing?

No, but it can be. You bring yourself and your work. That’s all. If you happen to chat and make a new contact then yes, I suppose that’s networking. The great thing is Knutsford Jelly is open all day, 10am until 4pm and you’re free to turn up any time. The Jelly happens on the last Wednesday of every month.

On the day I went to Jelly, it was pouring with rain and having got soaked on the way, I started to appreciate home working and count my blessings to be in a job where I no longer had to commute.

There were two people there when I arrived; Colin and Steve, who’d set up their laptops at the large table in the centre of the room. The room was basic but well-organised with a multi-socket extension lead in the middle of the table, the Wi-Fi password was clearly displayed and there was plenty of desk space to work on.

Did I get any work done?

Well, err, no.  I purposely saved a piece of non-urgent work which I knew I could do, even with possible interruptions. As it was, we all ended up chatting for two hours and I didn’t do any work at all.  Had I stayed all day I may have got quite a lot done but since the car park only let me have 2 hours parking, I left at 12:30 and headed back to my home office. At least I’d got a coffee round in.  I found out afterwards there is free parking.

More Jelly?

Definitely. Knutsford Jelly has a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere where everyone seems genuinely interested in and curious about what you do. I cannot guarantee my work will get done there, and I think it’s the approach you need to have.

It’s a great way to meet other businesses and next time; I’ll bring Hobnobs. That’s the only thing I would say; I do like a biscuit with my coffee.
I’m happy I found Jelly. It means this year I’ll be able to put the money saved on networking membership towards my CIPR CPD training budget.

Who called it Jelly?

In 2006, two New York freelancers were discussing the downside of working alone. They decided to invite a bunch of freelancers to their apartment to work together for the day. Because they ate Jelly Beans throughout the day, they decided to call it ….. Jelly. Simple as that.

Why have we stopped talking to people?

Why don’t we talk anymore?

Most of us have mobile phones so why don’t we use them to talk to people? Has mobile phone technology caused us to take a step backwards?

What’s the best way for me to contact you?

When I begin to work with someone new, I ask how they’d like to communicate and the best way to get in touch. Most say email works best and a text if something is urgent. Very few say phone me.

That is why I am baffled? Most of us have a mobile phone but don’t use them to talk?

Going back a bit, when Bell patented the telephone in 1876, the fastest way to get a message someone was by telegraph or telegram.

Imagine being around 140 years ago. Wouldn’t it have been so exciting to speak to another person when before you’d only be able to write a letter?

The first mobile phone call

When Martin Cooper (Motorola) made the first cell phone call in 1973, his only reason for doing so was to upset AT&T who were about to unveil their prototype cell phone at a press conference. Cooper later admits in a 2015 interview: “The issue at the time wasn’t about creating a revolution, although that was what happened. It was about stopping At&T.”

This historic moment completely changed the telecommunications industry as they envisaged a complete culture change in the way people talk to each other.

And change did happen. Now we now speak less.


Losing my voice

Two things happened this month which led me to think about this. First, I was struck down with laryngitis and lost my voice. I could not speak or even whisper, so writing became my only option. Second, I work with someone who likes to use WhatsApp which got me trying to work out how many mobile phone apps we use to do the same thing – text and in which case, why do we still call them mobile phones when we do not use them to make calls.

My customers all have their preferred ways to get in touch: It could be email, text, what’s app Messenger, or other collaboration apps like DropBox, SharePoint, OneDrive. I am happy with whichever way they choose, as long as it is easy for them to work with me and everything feels seamless for them.

The art of conversation

Here’s the thing. Because we now write or text everything, have we lost the art of talking and conversation. Although based on some SMS texts and posts I have seen, some would benefit from learning the art of writing, but that is probably another blog post.

Going back to laryngitis, when the doctor explained recovery would be like repairing a muscle, and it could take 6-8 weeks for my voice to return, I was quite shocked. Then I thought, if our voices are muscles, what happens if we do not use them?

How did we get to this point because I am not sure when we stopped talking on the phone and if we ever even noticed it happening? Perhaps email is to blame, or open plan offices where people may prefer to send an email to avoid of being overheard on the phone.

As someone who works alone most of the time, the opportunity to talk is a lovely part of my day.

A generation of phonophobes

Are we becoming phonophobic? How will we bring back the art of conversation? Does it matter, or am I missing the point? Has the fact we can now text, write and share images revolutionised our communication in such a way we will not need our voices?

Now you’ve got me thinking about the lost art of handwriting so watch this space.

How to change your company name

How to change your company name – small business checklist

When you change your business name, there’s a lot to work through, and sometimes it’s the tiny details we tend to forget.  Things like voicemail because when do we ever to listen to our own voicemail, greeting?

Renaming your UK Limited Company is cheap and easy; a few clicks on Companies House, pay the £8.00 fee, and in a couple of days, it’s done.  You have renamed your business.

Afterwards comes the harder part; updating everything.

If you’re about to change your company name, this checklist may come in handy.


Tell your accountant. They’ll need to update your tax records unless you prefer to do it yourself.


You’ll be surprised at how many you have. Address the business critical ones first and work leave the rest to work through later.


Make this a priority.  Depending on your banking provider you may be able to do the update online or go into the branch.  Either way, you’ll need your certificate from Companies House.


A name change is a great opportunity to contact your clients, especially the ones who haven’t been in touch for a while.

Cloud accounting

For users of cloud accounting like Xero or Quick Books, you’ll need to change the business name, logo and contact details in settings.


When your website is in place, your email is working, now’s the time to share it with your customers.

Data Protection

Update your Data Protection registration. This can be done via email to



Directory listings

Update your listing with Google and Yell, Chambers of Commerce and any other memberships the business has.

Domain name

Before you change your company name, it’s a good idea to check the domain name you want is available too.  You don’t want to change the name only to find out the domain name is taken.

Once your domain is set up, you can begin work on your website.  This can be done in advance of notifying your customers and while you’re sorting everything else out. It’s a great opportunity to do a content audit and update pages.


Redirect your previous email to your new email account.  It may help to add something to your email signature block to remind people about the changes.


Do you have business insurance for public liability or professional indemnity? Get in touch with your broker or policy provider to get a revised certificate

Linked in Company Page

If you have a company page, Linked In will only accept minor changes to your business name.  Where there’s a major name change, you may have to delete the page and create a new one.  Linked In considers a minimal name change to be less than five continuous characters of your current business name.

Marketing collateral

Reprinting brochures envelopes, flyers, business cards, banners and etc.

Merchant card or Paypal

If you have a merchant bank account Stripe, business Paypal, update your business name and email settings

Registered Office

Make sure your new company name is changed on all legal documents.


As a business, how many newsletters do you subscribe to?  This is a great opportunity to do some housekeeping and perhaps unsubscribe from the ones no longer of interest.

Terms and conditions

Remember to change the details on your proposal letters,  quotation templates, terms and conditions and privacy statements.


Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest; you’ll need to update them all but it’s very straightforward, and you don’t have to wait for ages for the changes to take effect.

For example, with Twitter, it’s straightforward to change in profile settings, and it will not affect your existing followers. They’ll just see your new username in the feed.



And finally, don’t forget your business voicemail.


Can you think of any more? If so, let me know, and I’ll add them to my list.


What’s it like to be a Virtual Assistant

It seems a bizarre title especially when you realise the term “virtual assistant” now means something completely different to a lot of people.  , compared to a few years ago before Siri and Alexa arrived on the scene.

Nowadays, virtual working is fast becoming a way of life for many businesses and employees.  I’ve noticed companies like PwC actively recruit virtual assistants as permanent company employees.  They obviously realise the value of the virtual worker.

To be successful at virtual working, it’s all about the attitude you bring to work, being competent in your field, responsive to customers, adaptable to situations and giving each client your absolute best every time you work together.

For me, it’s the variety I enjoy.  Throughout the course of the day, I wear a lot of hats, work with a diverse bunch of customers from a range of business sectors.

Early Bird

My day begins at 06.00 with coffee (or three).  I check for email which arrived overnight,  review today’s meetings and appointments, look at the news feeds and jot down a few notes.

With sufficient caffeine, I walk my two dogs. It’s a lovely way to begin the day and just that hour outside gives me some valuable thinking and planning time.

At 08:00 it’s off to my home office to begin work.  Today, I’ll put the final touches on a workshop presentation and email the link in time for our one o’clock Skype meeting when my client will be calling in from the USA.

With the presentation done, I’ve got an hour to finish the transcription I started last night.  I plug in my headset, open the control deck on my transcription software and pick up where I left off.  The deadline is 17:00 today so I have time to proofread the transcript after the Skype meeting.

Skype call complete, I confirm actions and schedule time to complete the new task my client wants; researching books for her delegate reading list.  Then, back to transcription.

At 13:00 I Skype meet the next customer.  We’re working on a rolling content calendar for his business blog.  We review current topics together, add in any new ones and decide on categories and links for week’s blog posts.

Working Lunch

Time for a quick lunch.  I’m taking meeting minutes this evening, so while I’m eating a sandwich, I check for any apologies received from the team.  I see they’ve asked to borrow my large screen monitor to preview the club’s new website.  I’ll need to leave time to dismantle it from my office.

Still munching, I check news feeds for topics of interest to send to my clients should they wish to work them into social media posts.

Could you just …

Ping! 13:45 and I get an email asking if I can “write a quick blog post” on one of the topics I just sent over.  Can I fit it in in one hour?  After some quick research, fact-finding and statistic checking, I begin writing.  Luckily for me today, the stars were all aligned and I found a super fact to include for context.  It’s great to be able to help someone out.

At 14:30, I close all computer programs and allow myself some  uninterrupted time to proofread the transcription.  It’s all about listening – one missing word or misplaced piece of punctuation can change the entire context of the transcript, so I listen to the entire recording.

15:30 Two emails come in sending apologies for this evening’s meeting, so I update the meeting agenda document and grab a cup of tea.

Phew, it’s 16:00 already.  Delighted to hear my customer has approved the blog piece I wrote earlier.  I create a nice blog image banner and log on to the customer’s website to publish the new content.  It looks great.

Finally, I check all today’s time has been allocated correctly, check my to-do list and tomorrow’s diary, pack up my bag and head to the meeting.