Reflections of a ‘losing’ finalist…

Chris Pomfret, Community Buying unLimited

Wednesday March 19th 2014

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Chris Pomfret shares the sentiment that there were no losers, only winners, at the 2014 West Oxfordshire Business Awards…

The first thing I said in my “interview” for the award was: “I didn’t really want to apply for this award and I don’t really like award ceremonies”! Probably not the most tactful thing to say to someone who is proudly sponsoring the award they have come to interview me about. “However”, I quickly continued: “what the application process has taught me is that you learn things from everything that happens in your business”.

My colleagues were insistent that we apply for this award. Had I not applied, there was a threat that an application would be made on my behalf, for Business Person of the Year, and that was something I absolutely could not contemplate. So, it was Faye and Katy who looked at the categories, downloaded the forms, and as they did their enthusiasm became infectious. We discussed our approach as a team, and they not only wrote part of the application, they ensured it was edited, rewritten and as perfect as possible so that the button with the word “send” on it was pressed in time for the deadline.

When you run a business, as I am sure you are fully aware, you are sent opportunities to learn on what can feel like a minute-by-minute basis. This humbling experience of those in my business telling me they are so proud of what they are a part of that they wanted the world to know about it, meant I was learning all over again. Believe me, I am so proud of what we do, but I am personally so driven 24/7 that I had not grasped the enormity of pressing the pause button and taking some time to reflect on where we have been, rather than always looking at where we are going. It reminds me of one of my very favourite quotes: “now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy” (Guillaume Apollinaire).

So that interview. Well clearly it went pretty well! However, during it I found myself before two men steeped in business acumen and with their own successful record in the corporate world, literally having to expose the very best way to present what makes CBL exceptional. I grasped very quickly that we were in a large field of very special West Oxfordshire businesses – so how does one show that we are beyond special? I simply tried to tell our story. Think about it for a moment, when you run a “micro-business” the opportunity to sell your story to those that need to forensically pick through it is actually an extraordinary experience. That two hours were inspirational, the repartee was engaging and the questioning empowering. I really want to share this critical point: I actually realised certain things about my business during the interview, because I heard myself say them out loud for the first time ever!

Applying for the 2014 WOBAs has undoubtedly shaped the direction of my business. So, I can humbly say that I was already a winner before the finalists were even announced. However, that feeling became multiplied many times over when we heard we had made the final three.

Which brings us to the final itself, it was my opportunity to say thank you to some very special people in my life and I was honoured to be joined by each and every one of them at our table. I rarely put a suit on, so the occasion to dress up, in a dinner jacket no less – hired from another Witney business called Domino’s who do great men’s dress suits (but apparently no pizza) – was too much of a temptation and meant that the evening was completely unique in the history of CBL. Don’t get me wrong, we have a lot of fun, lunches at Café Rouge, the odd breakfast at McDonald’s and copious latte meetings, but this was a black tie corporate function.

The evening wasn’t a complete success, it was way better than that! Truly everybody who plays their part in organising the WOBAs should be congratulated for what was an extraordinary event. All those that added their flavour to the mix – entrants, sponsors, interviewers – too. If I could offer one personal comment, about how it could be improved – after all we all pursue perfection – I think it would have been amazing to have heard a few words of wisdom from just the Business Person of the Year and the overall winner of Business of the Year. Maybe with the proviso that they were asked to answer one simple question: what one critical piece of information would you share with those who aspire to be where you are next year? But really that’s it. The entire event, at a fabulous venue where the service was excellent, was a sparkling success. WELL DONE WOBA!

I would really like to hear from each and every one of the other finalists to see if they too took a moment to pause and reflect in what was a real moment of happiness… and share the sentiment that there were no losers, only winners, at the WOBA 2014 Awards.

Chris Pomfret,

CBL, Finalist in the 2014 Micro Business Award category.