The Day I Met Theo Paphitis #SBS

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Winning #SBS Small Business Sunday

 Twitter is such a valuable tool for businesses which is something I learnt soon after opening my account.   I acquired numerous followers and became a part of the support network of like-minded people communicating with each other and promoting their own and each other's businesses.

I saw there was a competition each week run by Theo Paphitis, the idea being to follow him and between 5.00pm and 7.30pm on a Sunday evening sending him a tweet with a sort of a pitch for your business.  The only difference is that with Twitter you're limited to the amount of characters per tweet so, as well as compiling a tweet that stands out from the rest, you must make it short but include all the relevant points ie #SBS and a link to your website.   Theo chooses 6 each week and then re-tweets to all of his followers thus providing you with lots of exposure and new followers.  Hundreds of businesses tweet Theo each week so I joined in and found myself religiously tweeting him every Sunday hoping to be one of the lucky 6.  The winners used to be chosen later on the Sunday evening but as so many businesses started to enter the winners were announced the following evening.   On my lucky Monday evening, 17/9/12, I had taken a break from the computer and my partner was sitting at it.  I was chatting to him and suddenly noticed I had lots of interactions on my Twitter account.  I remember thinking........ it can't be!!!  I clicked onto the Interactions and there they were all the tweets congratulating me for being one of the winners.   Well as you can imagine I was whooping with delight and screeching "I've won it, I've won it!!"    We found out too that Theo does actually choose them.

Now if you do not enter #SBS or know much about it you have no comprehension of the instant euphoria upon the discovery that you've won. I had to explain to my partner how important this thing was as I don't think he was getting it despite me nearly hitting the ceiling with my bounds of joy!  He has recently confessed that he'd thought we'd won the lottery and was a little disappointed when he found out that we hadn't!

With this wonderful win Theo organises a meeting each year for everyone to get together and to meet the man himself.  We received our official invitation and as my partner was my +1 he received one too.  This year it was on 28/11/13 at the ICC Birmingham.  We booked 2 nights at The Jury Inn hotel, Broad Street and trundled up there.   The day started with me registering my business and receiving our badges.  I had to chuckle as my partner, who is a driving instructor, received one as well with his name and 'PuddyPooch Pet Boutique' written on it!  We then entered the big hall and saw the fabulous food and drinks laid on for us.......all compliments of Theo and Rymans.  So, the networking began and the meeting of fellow tweeps.  I did know what some looked like but found myself homing in on people's name badges to see if I knew them which was rather a difficult task and looked slightly suspicious but everyone else was doing the same thing.

We all then sat down in front of the stage to await Theo.   Kypros Kyprianou (Chief Executive of Ryman Stationery) took to the stage and gave us a run down on what we were to expect from the day in a very humerous fashion.   There are now businesses sponsoring #SBS - Ryman Stationery, RAC Business, DHL Express, Bartercard and Ilaw and each of their representatives  spoke to us as well.  Theo then took to the stage with applause and cheers from all of us.  Wow what a man he is.........inspirational, engaging, witty, I could go on and on with the adjectives,  but above all passionate and totally altruistic.  He is exceedingly passionate about small businesses which is what led him to start the competition on Twitter in the first place.   He kept us entertained, enthralled and amused for quite a while, oh yes he is incredibly amusing.   Not once did I drift off as I was so focused on what he had to say.  He was very excited telling us all about #SBSAngels, as opposed to 'Dragons'.  This was an opportunity for us to create a pitch to some of the businesses invested in on Dragons Den for the chance of an investment of up to £50,000!!   What an opportunity.  He then invited questions for the Q & A session and extended this as so many people wanted to ask him a question about business.  

It was then time for our pictures to be taken which I'd been looking forward to all day.  We were handed our certificates and each of us proudly stood next to Theo and had something taken that we knew we would treasure for years to come.    You can see my picture at the top of this page.  Do not ask me what I was looking at but something distracted me right at 'that' moment.   I quite like it though as it looks, well........natural.   There was then time for more networking before we left to enjoy another evening in Birmingham with the fabulous German Christmas Market.  

I left on a high and was on one for several days afterwards.  I thoroughly enjoyed the day and my whole stay in Birmingham.   I met some lovely people and it was so nice to put faces to the tweets.   I was worried about how my partner would find the day but he really enjoyed it and now has total admiration for Theo.  I can't say anything negative about our couple of days in Birmingham, well apart from a burger that didn't live up to our expectations when we ate out on the first evening!!!

I'd like to thank Theo and everyone involved for such a memorable day and for giving so much time to us small businesses, I know we are all very grateful.

I'll leave with the thought......................roll on next year as there will be another meeting with even more lucky winners to attend and be part of this very, very fortunate club.


  On 14/1/14 I was in Brighton newspaper the Evening Argus!!
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