In October, the winners of the inaugural British Small Business Awards were announced. We caught up with the Sole Trader of the Year winner, Gemma Lawton-Bryant to find out more about her enterprise, what it means to be an entrepreneur and how to build a successful startup in a competitive climate.
About the awards
Small businesses accounted for 99.3% of all private sector businesses at the start of 2015- 5.3 million, in fact. The British Small Business Awards seek to recognise the huge contribution these new and emerging ventures make to the UK’s economy.
The inaugural ceremony celebrated the success of those involved in a range of small business ventures. Awards were handed out for The Website of the Year, Innovation of the Year and Sole Trader of the Year, among many others.
Interview With Sole Trader of the Year Winner: GLB Graphics
We chatted with Founder, CEO and winner of Sole Trader of the Year Gemma Lawton-Bryant to find out more about the conception and growth of her award-winning new company, GLB Graphics.
At the ceremony, Gemma’s impressive revenue and unparalleled level of service were praised alongside her creative approach.
What inspired you to start GLB Graphics?
I have always had a love for design; from a young age I had dreams of working in advertising and being like the women in films who work in big cities and wear high heels (I couldn’t have been more wrong about that)!
However, starting GLB Graphics wasn’t really ever planned, it just happened – sounds strange I know, but one minute I was making some card for family about to begin my Graphic Design degree and then all of a sudden I was listing products on Etsy and applying for NOTHS – without sounding corny, it honestly just sort of happened. I got more and more passionate about it while I designed every new product and now I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when you first set out, and how did you overcome it?
I was lucky and had quite a smooth beginning to my business, my biggest challenge though was making that next step from it being part time to a full time job, which I can now happily say it is!
I was working part time as a Graphic Designer at a local company and although I loved the job, all I wanted to do was create and design for myself, not for someone else. So when they sadly had to let me go, I thought: “I might as well give this a few months and then if it doesn’t work out I will find another job” – that was two years ago now.
You were praised by the British Small Business Awards for your ‘entrepreneurial spirit’. What does entrepreneurship mean to you?
To me, it means having the freedom to create and market something I am proud of. It isn’t about impressing my boss or working underneath someone else. It is about me being my very own boss, being able to make all the decisions, whether they are big or small. I love the fact I can change the course of my business.
But most of all, I love knowing that all my hard work means that I can be whoever I want to be and whatever I want to be. I make money doing something I truly love and that is an incredible feeling.
There are so many graphic design companies out there for customers to choose from: what sets GLB Graphics apart from its competitors?
I design and create products that are bespoke to a customer’s needs, which I think sets me above the rest. I listen to my customers and make products that I think they will love and HAVE to buy.
I follow trends and guidelines but at the end of the day I listen to my customers – whether it is their feedback or their passions, everything I do is based on my customers, rather than based on what I think is “pretty”.
What’s on the horizon for GLB Graphics?
I consider the saying “the world is your oyster” as a way to live by. And this is definitely something I consider when running my business. A few months ago I could only dream about winning an award, and now I have. So for me, GLB Graphics has no limits; I want to continue to expand and grow and I want to be able to recognise myself as a brand I am proud of.
In the future, I want GLB Graphics to be a high street name, well, that’s my 10 year plan anyway! In the near future I want to be able to take my business to its own premises and continue to grow my product range – hopefully with the help of a small team!
If you could give a budding entrepreneur one piece of advice, what would it be?
Never ever stop dreaming, you can achieve anything you want as long as you are passionate enough and never stop fighting for it.
Read our interview with Innovation of Year.
Small British Business Awards 2016:
Innovation of the Year: Azoomee
Finance Provider of the Year: Close Brothers Retail Finance
Professional Services Firm of the Year: Crunch
Leader of the Year: Paul Vagg of Bee Naturals
Alternative Finance Provider of the Year:Crowdcube
Micro Business of the Year: Handrail Creations
Workspace Provider of the Year: Workspace Group
Sole Trader of the Year: GLB Graphics
Service Provider of the Year: YU Energy
Technology Provider of the Year: Xero
Business/ HR Consultancy of the Year: ClearlySo
Website of the Year: Wearecolony.com
Recruitment Business of the Year: Indeed