Annual Business Awards - Winner Case Study

The British Chamber of Commerce has been recognising business excellence in Singapore for the last 16 years through the prestigious Annual Business Awards initiative.


Past winner of Small Business Rising Star Award - Jonathan O'Byrne; Founder and CEO of Collective Works shares his "One year on" story.

By Jonathan O'Byrne, Founder and CEO of Collective Works

Published 20 May 2015

Challenges for SMEs

Being small in business is an incredible thing: it enables huge focus, close teamwork and it allows you to react very quickly to the market around you. But these working dynamics do bring with them their own set of challenges: physical challenges of being small in size and the operational challenges of moving very quickly and managing uncertainty. 
Managing uncertainty is a big challenge particularly for self-funded businesses. Maintaining and growing a small business requires consistent deal flow, however depending on the deals that come through, the business may need to rapidly scale or decrease in size to preserve profitability. For a large company gaining or loosing 5 freelancers doesn’t pose much of a challenge. If you’re a 6-person company it’s a very different story.
Physical challenges relate to the limited bandwidth of a small team: what they can do, achieve, attract and maintain. Don’t get me wrong, with advances in technology even tiny teams can achieve incredible things, but they are still bound by the realms of physics. For example, it is impossible for a small team to contain all the expertise they need for every aspect of the business. And unlike in larger organizations they can’t simply work over to the next department to find the skills they need. 

How Collective Works is helping SMES

Collective Works is Singapore’s fastest growing collaborative working (coworking) space. In the two and a half years since we opened we’ve grown to 11,000sq ft and we now look after 90 companies from over 20 countries providing them with workspace, top tier IT infrastructure and an exclusive and curated entrepreneurial community. 
As far as managing uncertainty goes, we have managed to completely de-risk the physical aspect of running a business. If you stop thinking about workspace in terms of rent and start thinking about workspace as a membership or a monthly subscription the games changes. Suddenly you can scale your team up and down as you like because your workspace and infrastructure will scale with you. That’s not only incredibly powerful but it is also incredible peace of mind. 
We overcome the physical challenges too because by working in a collaborative environment you gain access to an incredibly highly skilled network. So even as a micro business you get access to the resources of a medium sized company with none of the politics or complexity. And because we handle the management and administration of the working environment your team can focus on their efforts on creating the most impact in their jobs without having to worry about anything else.

How the 'BritCham - Annual Business Awards' helped getting recognition

I was genuinely surprised by how many people saw the coverage of the business awards. In the first week after the ceremony I received a dozen emails from people who had seen the Straits Times coverage and wanted to congratulate us. We also received incredible support on our social media posts.
For months afterwards, when I was introduced to new people, they would recall having seen us in the press and would ask “Didn’t you win an award?” It’s an incredible introduction and the business community really took note of the winners.

Why you should enter the BritCham Annual Business Awards?


First of all, winning our ABA was a fantastic boost to my team. They were all there on the night and there was a palpable sense of pride. Let me tell you, being able to refer to your business as ‘award winning’ never gets old.
In my opinion, the best thing about the Annual Business Awards is that they are peer reviewed: the judges are all real business people with a wealth of experience. That makes the awards very important to the business community.