With the winners now decided, BIBAs Start-Up award judges look back on the process

Judges in the Start-Up Business of the Year award in this year’s Be Inspired Business Awards, the BIBAs, reflect on the experience and process

Lancashire is well-known for its entrepreneurial spirit. It is, after all, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.

Two hundred years later, and the county is still home to lots of new businesses every year.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the ONS, since 2017 Lancashire has seen an average of 1,742 ‘business births’ every quarter.

The first quarter of 2022, the most recent for which figures are available, saw the highest number of new businesses created at 2,645.

In the five years for which ONS data is available, Preston saw the highest quarterly average with 204 new starts, followed by Blackburn-with-Darwen (199) then Blackpool (155). Hyndburn was the local authority area with the lowest average business birthrate of 75 per quarter.

For new businesses entering the BIBAs, it can be very daunting.

Organisers, the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, admit it’s one of the more challenging categories to enter.

That’s because, unlike more established firms, those that qualify for entry in the Start-Up Business of the Year category often don’t have the same wealth of past experiences to draw on when it comes to demonstrating how they’ve overcome adversity.

Not only that, but very young businesses may not have much to report when it comes to their finances.

It makes deciding on a winner in this category especially difficult.

The judges have to delve deeper into the origins of the businesses in this category, seeking an understanding of the motivation and rationale behind them, the market research that’s been conducted, the vision for the future and how achievable this seems.

With face-to-face formal interviews used to examine the details, the judges look for corroborating evidence during the ‘BIBAs On Tour’ interview round, but even this can be hard when dealing with brand new businesses.

Barry Fellowes from Hays, the recruitment specialists, was one of the judges for this award and said: “It was my first time judging and I was not prepared for how tough it was going to be. All the entrants in the Start-Up category had achieved a lot in a short amount of time, and had compelling visions for the future. Finding a winner was really challenging.”

Also judging this category, Sophie Bell-Carr from Carrington Textiles added: “The variety we saw among the applicants was amazing, they were all so different. It was really inspiring too, because the collective successes of these entrepreneurs show how anyone with a good idea can turn that into viable business.”

The finalists for this category in the BIBAs 2023 are:

● Ecoeyes
● Hope’s Therapy Dogs
● Sales Geek
● Four Seasons Glamping Pods
● HSE Advice
● Hercules Resin Tools
● Voice It Podcast Studio
● HEIR Education

They won’t discover which of them has won until the awards ceremony, which takes place on Friday 15th September at the Blackpool Tower Ballroom.

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