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Why I didn’t mind not winning business award I was shortlisted for

Having been nominated for an industry business award, entrepreneur John Savage explains what valuable extra value he extracted – despite not winning.
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Unfortunately, as trailed in my previous diary entry, we didn’t take home a prize at the business award we were shortlisted in last month.

It isn’t all about winning, though, and I am immensely proud of my team for their efforts and achievements in our relatively short history. To just be in the mix with the top brass of the heating and plumbing trade at this prestigious event was enough for me.

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I was able to meet with the bosses of top companies, manufacturers and other firms, which was surreal. Most people can’t get a meeting with most of these guys, and here I was, a lad from the North East of England, flying the region’s flag and mixing with the key players of the industry.

I have reinforced time and time again the importance of attending events and general networking ones, as they can provide you with the opportunity to have some face time with potential new business leads.

Yes, it would have been nice to have collected an award, but I’m not in this game to win awards. I’m in business to create jobs, boost our economy and above all, do something that I love doing.

If anything, being a finalist at such a prestigious award ceremony has given me more motivation to pursue and kick on with our current goals and business plan. It has also strengthened our ties with many of our supply chain partners, as well as the company we collaborated with for the award.

There may well be more business award shortlistings and wins in the future, but for now, all I am focused on is directing my company through what is expected to be tough economic and political times ahead.

It was another good month for business, in general, as we prepare for our year end in a months’ time or so. Sales targets are being smashed and we could very well be on course for double digit growth again for 2018.

We also (finally) launched our app. This is a project I have been really excited about, ever since we had the initial sit down about it. It may have taken a long time, but it was important to get it right before releasing to our customer base. I firmly believe it has the potential to be a game changer in our industry. I really do. It is able to perform diagnostics, identify required parts for any boiler and also allow engineers and installers to order the required parts – all at the touch of a button.

Our app project also highlights the need to have strong allies and partnerships.

During the development stage, we engaged with one of our longstanding customers, 0800 Repair Gas, to test the app for when its engineers were carrying out routine jobs. This massively assisted with the app’s progression as we were able to identify any improvements, as well as saved us a lot of time as we would have had to engage with an outside agency or company.

I have built-up a strong relationship with the company’s MD and without it, we may have had to look elsewhere for this crucial part of the app’s development, which most likely would have come at a greater cost too.

Last month also provided quite a significant shock to the system for the entire country, with the snap general election being called.

While the decision by the prime minister hasn’t affected my business, it could bring about more instability throughout the entire election process. However, in the end, it will give us all (hopefully) a clearer picture of the crucial Brexit negotiations.

Brexit hasn’t affected my firm in the slightest, if anything, sales have continued to rise with or without this constant distraction in the media, which seems to be every single day.

The North East of England overwhelmingly voted in favour of Brexit, so we have embraced it as a firm, as our clients are based in the region, along with our branches. In fact, many of our customers may very well have voted for Brexit if the demographics for Brexit voters being “white van men” and tradespeople are anything to go by.

There may be difficult times ahead for the government and subsequently business, but we are enjoying the moment, after logging yet another strong and positive month.

This article is part of a wider campaign called Founders Diaries, a section of Real Business that brings together 20 inspiring business builders to share their stories. Bringing together companies from a wide variety of sectors and geographies, each columnist produces a diary entry each month. Visit the Founders Diaries section to find out more.

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About Author

John Savage

John Savage is an up-and-coming entrepreneur and managing director and founder of North East of England-based Flame Heating Spares. He established the firm in 2011, having previously started his career as an apprentice and working his way up to management level at a national heating and plumbing merchant.

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