In 2012, the UK was brimming with optimism. The promise of hosting the London Olympics put what it meant to be part of TeamGB back in focus. It is from this optimism that the Great British Entrepreneur Awards (GBEA) programme was born. 

”Our timing was really spot on because the Olympics was in town,” Francesca says. “Everything Great Britain was very ’of the moment’ and entrepreneurs were being called the new rockstars in Government.”

Francesca’s roots are in publishing, and at the time, multiple business awards were clamouring to secure media partnership with her titles, including Fresh Business Thinking. This is when the idea to start a business awards programme focused on telling business owners’ stories, struggles and successes came to be. GBEA soon became a platform that celebrated and championed the entrepreneurs behind brilliant businesses, placing entrepreneurs’ stories above their balance sheet. “We consider the numbers, but what we are really interested in is that human element. The why. The journey of that person, the challenges they’ve overcome and what that means for their business,” she says.

GBEA is now a community of over 50,000 entrepreneurs and is continuing to grow rapidly. 

The first event was a gala awards night with 500 attendees. Now, almost 10 years later, GBEA is celebrated across 8 UK cities and is on track to receiving over 4,000 entries.

It’s more than seeing your name in lights

What draws people to enter the Great British Entrepreneur Awards is not just the possibility of seeing their name in lights. It’s about being involved in something a lot bigger, Francesca explains.

The awards provides an equal footing for smaller businesses to be in the same realm as their peers, people and businesses they aspire to, and those that can support them in the earlier stages of their careers.

Francesca believes its the GBEA community that truly set the awards apart from anything else in the UK. Having the likes of Cath Kidson, William King (founder of King of Shaves), Alan Barratt (founder of Grenade), and over 150 other names behind household brands already sets the awards apart, but it’s more than that. Francesca has seen the awards community spark unique opportunities for collaboration and growth, allowing bigger businesses to mentor and support smaller ones.  

“It’s really tough competiton. Believe me when I say there are some phenomenal businesses that I wish would make the shortlist.”

While making the shortlist let alone winning may not be easy, Francesca says that every business associated with the awards had to start somewhere. Some well-known brands today applied over multiple years to finally make the cut, which its own powerful progression story. Your best bet to make the shortlist is to apply for multiple categories, she says. 

”Don’t be discouraged by big names,” she says. While the alumni of winners may be impressive, its their tenacity that secured their win, and any business at any stage of growth can do the same. 

There’s still time to nominate your business for the Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2021. Click here to get started.