The finalists in the Small Business category at the Norfolk Business Awards 2018

The Norfolk Business Awards 2018 will be held at the Norfolk Showground Arena on November 22. Pictur

The Norfolk Business Awards 2018 will be held at the Norfolk Showground Arena on November 22. Picture: Simon Finlay Photography. - Credit: Simon Finlay Photography

Introducing the finalists in the Small Business category of the Norfolk Business Awards 2018, sponsored by Cozens-Hardy – and what our judges thought of them.

• Just Financial Planning

Founded in 2008, Just Financial Planning is a chartered financial planning firm dedicated to providing independent financial advice from its Norfolk office. Its name 'Just' puts fairness at the heart of the business. It was launched just as the credit crunch was starting to show its teeth but, despite challenging market conditions, now employs 10 people, has worked with over a thousand clients and looks after assets of over £90m.

Judges' comments: From 'you must be mad' to £90m of customer assets in less than 10 years... that's what Holly Heald and her team have achieved after launching a fair and 'just' financial planning business designed to offer transparent, consultative, end-to-end client services. And, importantly, to start to change the less-than-glowing reputation of financial advisors. Growth has been consistently sustainable and considered throughout the 10 years, emphasising the focus on the customer and the team's aim to erode financial anxiety for the client. The value of staff and their contribution to success is critical and this is underpinned by the fact that 90% of staff are currently undertaking some element of professional training.

• Indigo Swan

Indigo Swan is an energy contract enthusiast. It started trading in 2010 and now employs 22 people in the heart of Norwich city centre. Its business clients benefit from the company's expertise in negotiating and managing energy supply contracts. Indigo Swan prides itself on its independence and doing the right thing. It was the UK's Most Trusted Energy Consultancy in 2017.

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Judges' comments: Having started trading in 2010 Indigo Swan has become an award winning independent energy consultant by ensuring a consistent culture and vision from the moment anyone of its 20 people enter the building. The 'happiness first' approach is passionately led by founder Emily Groves and these values, alongside a commitment to leverage technology to level the playing field with bigger competitors, has led Indigo Swan to an industry leading net promoter score of 85 and a client retention rate of 97.7%. The hunger for success permeates through everything they do in their work and further afield with numerous charitable and supportive activities taken by the team in their various communities.

Deepdale Backpackers & Camping

Deepdale Backpackers & Camping is an eco-friendly backpacker hostel, campsite and groups hostel offering excellent value accommodation on the beautiful north Norfolk coast. The business returned to the original owners in October 2016, after seven-and-a-half years of being leased out. The accommodation offering has been transformed since then, with over £300,000 invested, including new shower blocks, electric hook-ups, 2000m of hedging and new solar systems. 2017 was the busiest year in the history of Deepdale, which first opened all year round in 2003, and 2018 is set to smash that record with another increase of about 30% in bed nights and take-up. Deepdale is very proud to be a Real Living Wage employer.

Judges' comments: Having taken back the day-to-day running of the site less than two years ago, Jason Borthwick and team have created an atmosphere, culture and business upon the foundation of loving the north Norfolk coast. Customer experience and staff fulfilment are intrinsically linked and this focus is felt from the moment you arrive on site. Organic expansion into events and experiences has enhanced the immersion into all that north Norfolk has to offer. The Christmas and Spring markets, the Hygge and music events have become not only key to Deepdale Backpackers but also to the surrounding communities and businesses, ensuring an innovative and sustainable development of north Norfolk tourism.

• CIM Signs & Graphics

Established in 2000, CIM is a leading signs, graphics and wide format print company based in Rackheath, near Norwich. Its services include the design, production and installation of signs, vehicle graphics and wraps, window graphics, exhibition displays and point-of-sale materials for clients both in East Anglia and nationwide. The company employs 18 staff.

Judges' comments: CIM Signs & Graphics has a balanced approach to the development of culture, staff and investment, which has seen CIM nearly double in size in four years, acquiring new premises last year. Differentiation in its market has been built on customer service, continued re-investment in both machinery and staffing plus an understanding of how each step contributes to the client success for the company. Community and CSR is at the heart of everything CIM does, with involvement in many things from youth football to Norwich in Bloom. The clarity of vision, understanding and appreciation of how success fits together comes from the leadership of managing director Mark Baker and with continued reinvestment and development of sustainable growth, CIM continues to go from strength to strength.

MORE: Revealed: The finalists for the Norfolk Business Awards 2018