Awards. Love ‘em or hate ‘em there’s no escaping ’em! I think over the years I’ve been a bit tainted by the whole awards thing. Maybe I was just moving in the wrong circles … So it was with some hesitation that just before Christmas I applied to the Chamber of Commerce in a bid to be crowned the best business in Cannock Chase.

Despite writing for a living, the application process really stressed me out. Forms and word counts can be so restrictive when you’re used to writing free-flowing words for blogs and websites. As a solopreneur, thoughts were running through my mind of all the larger companies I’d be up against, my inner-imposter surfacing, reminding me that I was wasting my time.

But on I went, filling in the boxes.

I went so far out of my comfort zone by doing a video to accompany the application form, and gathered some photos together of times I’d done something above and beyond the ‘day job’, such as taking part in a Dragons Den day at Chase Terrace Academy.

And then I waited.

Imagine my surprise when I was informed that I’d been shortlisted in the Cannock Chase Best Business of the Year category!

On Friday 3rd February it was off to The Tower Suite at Drayton Manor for the annual black-tie awards evening. Table 10 was buzzing, with nominees in three categories: Lichfield Small Business of the Year – inLIFE Design, Tamworth Small Business of the Year – Cloud Accounting Support Services (CASS), and myself for the Cannock Chase Business of the Year.

The pressure was on after inLIFE and CASS picked up the winning gongs in their respective categories. That damned imposter reared its ugly head again, and I braced myself to wear my “I’m so pleased for you” smile.

And then a miracle happened. They called my name! Yes, this self-doubting solopreneur had just been announced as the Cannock Chase Business of the Year!! Table 10 erupted and I went into shock as I made my way to the stage to collect my award – barefoot as I’d ditched my heels as soon as we were seated for the meal.

The judges’ comments meant a lot to me:

“As a solopreneur, Cheryl edged out micro businesses with more employees by displaying her passion for lifelong learning and support of her local, Burntwood community. Cheryl told us of her change in direction during Covid and how she supported clients by reducing her fees.

Attributing her success to a mixture of networking, community support, continued professional development and collaborative working, Cheryl impressed the judges with her determination and ability to excel in all aspects of her business.”

I’d like to thank Hannah Montgomery of Golddust Marketing for her help and encouragement – and pushing me to apply for the award in the first place.

My main reason for sharing this story with you is not to boast about winning an award, but to say to each and every one of you: believe in yourself. I was up against bigger businesses, but I was judged on my achievements and recognised for my efforts.

Whether you’re a one-man band, or a business with staff, premises, and the associated crap that goes with it, when times get tough, keep going.