I woke earlier than usual this morning, with a Google alert message telling me my name was in the paper. The excitement of the public announcement after being asked to keep my ‘big news’ under wraps for the past few weeks was immeasurable, and was soon overtaken by an immense feeling of pride and honour that I have been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2016.
I stand humble alongside a list of citizens who have been recognised for contributions to society in so many ways, and my own award acknowledges my services to small businesses in the North East of England. Hundreds of amazing people have been part of my journey over the past 16 years – men and women who have worked tirelessly – often under the radar – to ‘do their thing’ in small businesses and charities, to enable them to achieve their ambitions through hard graft and personal sacrifice, often needing to vie for attention because their size sometimes puts them at a disadvantage. In my own experience many of the small business owners I’ve had the privilege to work with over the years have struggled to see their value, when ‘business success’ is so publicly classified in terms of size – employ lots of people, to fill your large premises, to generate high turnover. Proportionately, though, when it comes to ‘real’ value – profit (to quote an old FD of mine, turnover is vanity, profit is sanity!), civic contribution, and directly improving people’s lives – put a microscope on the small business sector and I’d challenge that you’ll find far more true examples of business success here than in their bumper-sized counterparts.
So I dedicate my MBE to you, the people who run small businesses and charities, and to encourage you to walk tall, to continue to influence and innovate, and above all to recognise that what you’re doing is seriously making an impact.