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  • Writer's pictureNat Sharp

5 Reasons the West Kent Expo proved invaluable for small businesses

Updated: Mar 28

West Kent Expo
Featuring Nat Sharp, Sharp Thinking Marketing, Vicki Thornhill, West Kent Business and Angela Ward, Angela Ward Media

How West Kent Expo empowered small businesses

Last week's West Kent Expo at the River Centre in Tonbridge was a whirlwind of energy, brimming with innovative ideas and bustling with over a hundred local businesses. It was an exceptionally well-organised event, overflowing with warm hospitality and palpable excitement. From the checking-in of guests at the registration desk (which I happen to take part in) to co-delivering a synergy-packed workshop on marketing and finance alongside A4G Chartered Accountants, the day was an exhilarating blend of meeting both new and familiar faces.

There's something distinctly special about stepping into a space designed for cultivation and growth, especially for small businesses like yours and mine.

However, we all are acutely aware that time is a rare and precious commodity – particularly in our line of work – and taking an entire day to invest in an event is not a decision made lightly. It necessitates the assurance that every moment spent will harvest worthwhile gains for our business.

Reflecting on the experience, I find it pertinent to share the five key reasons why the West Kent Expo was a day incredibly well spent.


Kicking off with a networking breakfast hosted by the Sevenoaks Chamber of Commerce, the event set the stage for creating and nurturing potential business relationships. Armed with the knowledge that new customers are rarely an instant win, the emphasis was rightly put on building meaningful connections. This approach is the bedrock upon which successful ventures are built. With a dynamic crowd and an equally vibrant setting, this was networking reimagined.

Meeting influencers and key stakeholders

With the unique assembly of representatives from Tunbridge Wells, Sevenoaks, and Tonbridge & Malling councils, the West Kent Business Expo carved out an exceptional opportunity to engage with pivotal community figures. Such interactions are crucial for staying abreast with local developments and for tapping into the available resources and grants designed to aid small businesses like ours.

Discovering new suppliers

Amidst over 50 local exhibitors, the expo was a treasure trove of prospective suppliers, all sharing a common theme – a commitment to local growth and success. This pool of potential allies, ranging from accountancy to HR services, offers a golden chance to form alliances with those who not only understand the local landscape but are also passionate about enriching it.

Conducting customer research

The event provided a valuable platform for engaging directly with our market, gaining insights into their everyday challenges, and gauging response to our evolving product offerings. Being able to adapt based on the feedback received is critical, ensuring our services remain as relevant and as empathetically crafted as possible.

Participatory workshops for learning and growth

A line-up of four workshops, including my own on marketing 'Metrics for growth', offered a wealth of knowledge and expert advice, with the added bonus of being free-of-charge. You can access the full presentation here.

These sessions weren't just about passive learning; they were interactive, offering Q&A opportunities that laid the groundwork for deeper dialogue about individual business hurdles.

A heartfelt congratulations to West Kent Business and all the collaborators who orchestrated such a remarkable event. And a nod of gratitude to A4G Chartered Accountants for the shared camaraderie on stage – it's through these alliances that our enterprises flourish.

It's gatherings like these that remind us – the lifeblood of our small businesses flows through the veins of our community connections, our willingness to learn, and our readiness to adapt. Here's to our continued growth and collective success!


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