‘It never ceases to amaze me just how many superb businesses there are in Norfolk’

Close up of a young smiling professional business woman, with coworkers holding a meeting int he background

The winner of the SME of the Year category at the Norfolk Business Awards 2021 will need to demonstrate great leadership - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Winning an award sets you apart as ‘best in class’ says Christopher Cooper, director of Computer Service Centre and judge of the SME of the Year category at the Norfolk Business Awards. He tells us more about the award. 

Can you tell us a bit about your business journey? 

In 1997, we founded Computer Service Centre. Back then, the ‘centre’ was a shop in central Norwich, ‘service’ meant ad-hoc troubleshooting and the ‘computers’ were beige boxes that sat on desks.   

In 2006 we moved to our current base to the east of Norwich, in a fully-owned building that could securely host our data centre.   

Today, we have a team of over 60 people, and our business has changed completely. We’ve become our customers’ outsourced IT department, providing everything from infrastructure, hardware, software and networking solutions, to offering proactive 24/7 support for all of a user’s day-to-day needs.   

Why were you keen to get involved in the Norfolk Business Awards?  

Having been an award judge for some years, it never ceases to amaze me just how many superb businesses there are in Norfolk!  

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So many people are unaware of them as most are just getting on with the day job. By getting involved with the awards, I get to meet these extraordinary people and in a small way help them on their journeys as others have helped us.  

Christopher Cooper, director of Computer Service Centre

Christopher Cooper, director of Computer Service Centre - Credit: Computer Service Centre

What do you bring to the judging process?  

I would hope that my 25 years in running a successful IT business, in one of the fastest and most changeable industries, gives me a perspective that others can benefit from.  

What have your previous experiences of judging been like?  

Overwhelmingly positive, although the awards ceremony can be somewhat difficult, as there can only be one winner on the night.  

What will you be looking for in the winner?  

A business which is different and has a proven story with a track record. They need to be making a difference and love what they do and be passionate about it. Finally, I’ll be looking for a business which wants to win this award!  

What can the prestige of winning this award do for a business’ reputation?  

Businesses often set their own standards and then use external bodies to ratify their credentials. By winning the award or even being shortlisted, you are being measured by your fellow business owners and this can identify you and your business as best in class, in a way that only an award can. 

What advice would you give to a business that’s considering entering? 

When entering the award, just consider there are many businesses who will also be thinking about it and you need to ask yourself: “How can I get my message across?”  

This is no different when it comes to selling your services or product to your target audience and you will need to make the effort to stand out. However, your story needs to be credible and provable, with data and evidence - expect to be challenged! 

SME OF THE YEAR CRITERIA 

This category is open to businesses with a turnover between £2million and £50million. The winner of this award will be a company that has shown consistency in stability in their ownership of their market share.  

They will also show evidence of commitment to its purpose, community, employees, customers as well as development of products/service. 

The closing date for entries is August 22. To enter, go to www.norfolkbusinessawards.co.uk 

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