The British economy desperately needs its small businesses to succeed. The 4.8m of them keep 23.9m people employed, keep us growing and keep us competing against the rest of the world. With this in mind, it’s about time they were celebrated. We teamed up with to give small businesses achieving huge things some thoroughly deserved recognition.  #O2SmartaBiz is our search for the smartest, most innovative businesses in the UK.

Fancy getting your business featured? Follow @O2BusinessUK and @SmartaHQ and tweet with #O2SmartaBiz to get involved 

Here’s our round up of the businesses that caught our eye in June and another chance for us to give them the publicity they deserve.

Lark & Lily DesignsLynsey MacGregor has earned praise across the country for her handmade jewellery business, Lark & Lily Designs. Lynsey has been named one of Insider’s Rising Stars of 2013 for the potential of her business and she was a winner of the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award. Not bad for business that’s still in its second year. We were really proud to name a small business in a traditional market making such impressive progress our #O2SmartaBiz of the week.

What’s your smartest tip for entrepreneurs?

“Believe in yourself! Concentrate on what you are best at and if there are aspects of running a business you are not so good at e.g. building your website, hire someone who can do that for you. Then you can use your time productively.

Jealous SweetsUnderstanding what makes your business grow and what holds it back is crucial. When founders Imran Merza and Taz Basunia realised Jealous Sweets needed a new look to reflect its personality, they pulled it off with style. They became our #O2SmartaBiz after launching the new brand. It’s a great skill to be able to spot where your business can improve.

What’s your smartest tip for other entrepreneurs?

“Having a passion for your business is a key ingredient, without this you won’t have the persistence and sheer determination to do whatever it takes to overcome the hurdles to eventually succeed. Ultimately if you want to build a successful business it takes a lot of hard work as well as working in a smart manner.

Getting a business mentor is definitely a must these days as they bring lots of experience of being in business as well as useful contacts, and the various pitfalls to avoid.

Having a exercise regime weather that’s running, going to the gym or swimming coupled with a balanced diet will help you keep fit and mentally agile, for the day to day grind of the entrepreneurial journey.

Coochy Coo Nappy CakesBaby gift specialist, Coochy Coo Nappy Cakes, doubled its sales in April and then doubled them again in May!  Founder, Lorraine Bostaff, launched the business last year but has already seen the kind of growth worth cheering about. That’s why we named Coochy Coo Nappy Cakes our #O2SmartaBiz. Lorraine has shown what a small business can do if it knows where to sell and, in this case, it was through Amazon.

What’s your smartest tip for other entrepreneurs?

“Be prepared to work hard. I have had highly responsible jobs and thought I worked hard during my work hours but I didn’t know the meaning of the word work until I started my own business. It is consuming and it has to be to make it work, but if you believe in what you are doing and it’s not just for the financial aspect but more for the love and passion for what you are doing then you will find a way to make it work!” 

VirtueA new independent fashion label quickly becoming a great business.  Virtue’s founder, Jasmine Virtue, earned her place as an #O2SmartaBiz winner after a genius bit of marketing. She entered a competition to design a t-shirt for Glastonbury headliner Mumford and Sons. Her effort was displayed on their blog and seen by thousands of potential customers.

What’s your smartest tip for entrepreneurs?

“Don’t give up! Determination is the key to success. Starting a business takes a lot of time and effort, but it also requires patience. It might be weeks or months before you make your first sale, maybe you won’t be making a profit until the first year is over, but if you are passionate and determined to succeed, the outcome will be very rewarding!

After all, patience is a VIRTUE. “

The Design TrustVideo has huge potential for small businesses. Nowhere near enough use it, but The Design Trust realised it was the perfect way to advertise their new business club. Director Patricia van den Akker won her business the #O2SmartaBiz award for creating a brilliant example of what makes The Design Trust great.

What’s your smartest tip for entrepreneurs?

“Spend about 40% of your time marketing yourself, especially through direct contact, referrals and research potential clients before approaching them. “

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