It’s an understatement to say that running a business ‘isn’t easy’.

So being recognised as ‘Small Business of the Year’ in the Ilkley Business Awards last month meant so much more than another trophy on the shelf. I was delighted for the whole team. For me, I felt relief.

Because it can be ‘tough at the top’. As an MD, there’s less people to tell you if you’re doing it right and sometimes the demon of doubt drowns your positivity and you start to question your sanity!

Running a small business is tougher today than it’s ever been. The British Chambers of Commerce reported in their last quarterly review, that ‘Both manufacturing and services are under pressure, particularly from the rising cost of inputs, which is squeezing margins and may weaken future investment.’

So you might wonder, why bother?

As a teen I got my basic O levels and A levels but was nothing exceptional at school. But I did have a determination to do something ‘different’. It was a bold move in 2001 to cast aside permanent employment and set up Approach after 10 years in agency PR and three years in journalism – especially with a mortgage to pay and a family to feed.

Approach is now a teenager itself celebrating its 16th birthday this year. With an incredible team of professionals, we’ve ridden the storm of personal heartbreak, a brush with the bailiffs, the financial crisis and five office moves.

We embody the essence of the UK’s SME might. With Yorkshire grit and an unrelenting commitment to our clients, we have provided employment for 22 individuals, work experience for 20 students and school pupils, 12-month placements for six students alongside work and life experience that has inspired and nurtured all who have been here.

At the Ilkley Business Awards, judges said we are: “A business demonstrating strong leadership skills, continually moving forward to keep up with industry trends and who give a lot of time to the local community”

At a time when all businesses are continuing to trade through uncertainty, finding time to invest in your community and be flexible with your team can seem impossible.

But at the very heart of Approach is our people. Our skills, our excellence and our knowledge are what the client needs. But what the client wants is a team with personality, passion and a buy-in that money can’t buy.

Yes, it is tough running a business. It can feel isolated. You do feel the pressure. But nothing compares to looking at your team and seeing their passion and energy truly making a difference.

In the words of the BCC: “As we start 2017, businesses are continuing to trade through the uncertainty, and are looking to seize opportunities as they arise.”

Business and life is all about seizing the opportunity. Awards are a fantastic opportunity – a boost to your team who with their hearts full of pride, work with the energy and job satisfaction of knowing their firm and their part in it, is quite simply, award winning.