From Finalist to Winner


From Finalist to Winner

Guest Blog by Kristen Cunliffe of Red Star Wealth

True Story!

I was furious back in 2012 when Tracy Irwin of TI Accountancy won in the Financial Services category at the Enterprise Vision Awards. I had been shortlisted in the same category just one year after launching my business, Red Star Wealth. I had brought a table full of family and friends with me and as I was shortlisted in 2 categories I naturally just assumed I had it in the bag. After all, SHE had won it the previous year.


Five Things I Learnt From Taking Part In The EVAS

I have learnt a hell of a lot since that night;

  1. Tracy Irwin is INCREDIBLE – she has built an awesome business, she is so smart, so genuine and absolutely deserved to have won the EVAS Financial Services of the Year for 2 years running. She’s a really close friend of mine now and knows I was mad as hell at her for winning that night. We laugh about it.


  1. It really is OK if you don’t win. I had only started my business the year before my first nomination. Whilst at the time it felt like the end of the world not to win. Actually my business was sound (but still new), and frankly Tracy’s business was better than mine. You have to be able to look at these things through honest eyes – because not every finalist can win, and being a finalist is a real honour. I have been a finalist 7 times in 4 years between 2012 and 2015 so I have a little more experience than most.


  1. Winning is awesome – I’m not going to lie. It really is something special to hear your name being called on the night; and the support and love – wow it hits you like the heat hits you when you get off the plane going on your foreign holidays – and it stays with you for a long time after. The EVA team pull out all the stops for the winners on the night, but especially after the event with a lot of marketing opportunities. Word of your win can spread through your own networks yes, but also professional organisations or national press. I was interviewed by Cosmopolitan Magazine after one win, only because they had heard about me winning at the EVAs. Best of all, Tracy Irwin presented me with my very first EVA.

2013 Enterprise Vision Awards Financial Services Winner Red Start Wealth

  1. Your confidence in your business skyrockets! Well mine certainly did. As I said, I had not been in business very long. So winning awards like the EVAS really gave me confidence in the direction I was taking the business and myself as a business owner. I think having more faith in myself and my ideas helped drive me to open my second business Red Star Education with my husband in 2015. That business has grown exponentially since then and has led to business number 3, a community interest company launched earlier this year.  We have a meeting room full of pretty trophies to remind us we are the best at what we do, even when there are days when everything feels like a up hill battle.


  1. People around you get inspired – I think it just happens naturally but I found that the ladies around me in business, and in my friendship circles, started to consider entering awards or even starting businesses when they might not have otherwise done so.

    I bet every finalist and winner can think of one friend, one family member who put their business forward because of their journey. The one person who did this and it is and will always be my greatest source of pride was my own daughter Izzy who won “The One to Watch” award aged just 15 years old in 2016 for her photography business

    She still pursues her own business interests in the creative world and went on to win other prestigious business awards following her EVA win. The confidence the win gave her, and the outpouring of heartfelt support from the Pink Link Ladies to this very day is something I, and she, will be forever grateful for. I have seen first hand what it means for women to genuinely help out those who follow us – the young women who will be our leaders of tomorrow. Thanks for that ladies.

The night itself is a spectacular and I feel completely privileged to have attended every year since 2012, the dressing up alone is worth the weeks of preparation. There is something truly special about the night if you walk in as a finalist but something even more amazing happens to you and your business when you walk out an EVA winner.

You know what? It might be time for me to enter again. I think I miss it!



Author: Red Star Wealth