How our startup became award-winning

Carrie Weekes and Fran Glover are the founders of A Natural Undertaking, a business focussed on providing funerals that celebrate life. They recently won a prestigious industry award, even though they've only been trading for a year - here's how.

We have had a really fantastic September. After just a year of trading we have managed to pick up a prestigious industry award. We were named as 'Green Funeral Director of the Year' at this year’s Good Funeral Awards in Winchester. We were also a finalist in the 'Most Promising New Funeral Director' category, out of hundreds of nominations.To say we are pleased is something of an understatement!

So, how did we get to this point? Just two years ago, Carrie borrowed some money off her Nan and took herself off to Bournemouth for a weekend with a difference. Here's what happened.

“I had absolutely no experience or contacts in the funeral business. And yet I decided to spend the weekend at the Good Funeral Awards 2013- a few days of talks, workshops and an awards dinner for the funeral industry. I knew that I wanted to do ‘something” in the funeral world- but I had no idea how to start. I had done so much reading and research and I knew that this weekend the real innovators and creatives in the funeral business would be gathering. So I took the plunge and booked myself in.

The first person I introduced myself to was Simon Ferrar from Clandon Wood Natural Burial Ground in Surrey. He did not think I was barmy, and took it upon himself to introduce me to everyone in sight. I cannot thank him enough for this wonderful inauguration into this new world.

I spent the weekend picking the brains of some amazing people. I felt immediately that this was a ‘tribe' to which I wanted to belong. And with those new contacts and friendships I left Bournemouth that weekend with a huge surge of energy and determination.

Fast-forward to twelve months later, and the Good Funeral Awards 2014 are being held in Birmingham. Fran and I now have a name for our company -  and though we haven’t yet started trading, we are fully immersed in this year’s event. I am acting as the host of the lectures, Fran is delivering a lecture, I have been promoting the event on local radio and Fran and I both are networking (and socialising) like crazy! And that night, we get a call asking us to do our first funeral. We are on our way…

To have gone from timid outsiders to award winners in two years is such an exciting development for us. How have we done it? By working hard to ensure that every funeral we have done has been the best it possibly can be. By asking for feedback, reviews and testimonials so we can tell people what we have been doing well. And by making sure we are connected to a network of like-minded professionals and individuals to give us peer support and wisdom when we need it!

So we now have a lovely statuette of Anubis- Egyptian God of Death on the mantlepiece (presented to us by fellow Brummie Ian Lavender - Captain Pike from Dad’s Army)  and a determination to win another award next year!"

Get the Virgin StartUp Business plan