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Put your business to the test: nominations now open for the 2019 Telstra Business Awards

Telstra Business Awards Business and Enterprise

Posted on January 24, 2019

2 min read

Now in its 27th year, the Telstra Business Awards brings together the very best of Australian small and medium business – helping them put their businesses to the test, celebrating their achievements, and propelling them to even greater heights.

While 2018 was a record-breaking year for nominations overall, businesses nominating themselves dropped by nearly 20 per cent. This tells us that Australia has many incredible small and medium businesses worthy of attention and commendation, but some may need a bit of encouragement to seek the recognition they deserve.

We know a successful business owner is a special breed. A successful business owner is hungry. They’re creative. They’re bold. But at times, they’re also unsure. Having no one to answer to can be liberating, but it can also foster as much self-doubt as it can confidence.

The Telstra Business Awards program is designed to help business owners analyse and improve their operations so they can thrive in the future. As part of nominating, every entrant will receive a Personalised In-depth Business Report with professional insights, advice and guidance to help guide future growth for their small or medium business, not-for-profit organisation or social enterprise.

Tony Nash, CEO of Booktopia, an online retailer and 2018 Telstra Australian People’s Choice Award winner, knows from experience that it’s worth taking the time to stop and put your business to the test. He has entered the awards seven times and says the entry process, which helps you articulate what your business does, how you do it and why you are unique, has taught him something every time he’s entered.

We want business owners to believe in themselves as much as we do, because we know that confidence and the will to keep innovating is as important to ongoing growth as anything else. Throughout the 2019 Telstra Business Awards, we aim to put the very best of Australia’s businesses in the spotlight, sharing their stories to inspire others as well as celebrating success.

Nominations for the 2019 Telstra Business Awards are open now until 5pm AEDT, 7 March 2019.

Nominate your business or someone else’s by heading to the website today.

How Nexba Beverages turned iced tea into a war on obesity

Telstra Business Awards

Posted on September 26, 2018

3 min read

Nexba Beverages has just been recognised as the inaugural winner of the 2018 Telstra Alumni Achievement Award, and its vision to be a major player in the fight against sugar shows why.

When founders Drew Bilbe and Troy Douglas launched Nexba Beverages in 2010, sugar wasn’t the enemy. The obesity epidemic had been well established as a growing issue globally, but sugar had not been exposed as the clear-cut culprit.

What started as a “better for you”, natural soft drink brand then, is today driven by a much larger purpose: to transform lives by being a major player in the fight against sugar.

“In Australia, 1 out of 3 children are obese,” said Mr Bilbe. “We see growth with purpose as tackling obesity and diabetes and staying true to that vision and mission.”

“When we began, consumers weren’t necessarily buying the better-for-you, healthier products,” said Mr Douglas. “I think largely due to the research that was available and also just the physical products that were available in stores.”

But since they’ve been in business, they’ve seen a massive rise in products seen as healthier options. The same year that Nexba would win the 2015 Telstra Australian Micro Business Award, they would also ink a deal with Coles Supermarkets and sugar would be labelled ‘the new tobacco’ as a health concern.

A year later, the World Health Organisation would urge countries to impose a tax on sugary drinks and fizzy drink companies would begin losing ground as their sales dropped.

In other words, winning their initial Telstra Business Award couldn’t have happened at a better time. “We went from a self-funded start-up to what we now term ‘a scale up’,” said Mr Douglas.

“We have got amazing investors. We closed our first Series A capital raise at $4.5 million with some really powerful Australian business people as part of that, so winning the Telstra Award in 2015 obviously supported us in giving us that credibility both internally and externally with how we market ourselves and moved forward.”

While the business began their journey with ice tea, it has expanded its scope much wider.

“Our biggest achievement is being the first company to tackle obesity and diabetes globally by reinventing soft-drinks,” said Mr Bilbe. “All of our products are naturally sugar free, as opposed to being artificially sweet.”

Three years on, Nexba has been recognised at the Telstra Business Awards for a second time, taking out the inaugural 2018 Telstra Alumni Achievement Award – which rewards previous winners that have taken their achievements to the next level since their win. The accolade coincides with the business ready to take the next step into the international market and incredible growth.

Leadership in the industry has seen them experience 150% year-on-year growth and undertake multiple collaborations with retailers including Coles, Woolworths and Aldi in Australia. And now Nexba is on the brink of launching another collaboration with an as yet undisclosed major UK supermarket retailer.

“Domestically, we will continue to launch new ranges of ready-to-drink products including probiotic water as well as build on our naturally sugar-free tonic water range,” said Mr Bilbe. “Globally, we will cement our strong position in the UK and also focus on other markets such as the US.”

The 2018 Telstra Business Awards season may be over now, but you can submit your nominations for 2019 – even if it’s for your own business.


Who are the best Australian businesses in 2018?

Telstra Business Awards

Posted on September 21, 2018

3 min read

The 2018 Telstra Business Awards program concluded last night and we are incredibly proud of every one of our 31 national finalists. They each put forward an incredible case for their place as national winners and made our judges’ jobs extremely hard.

I am thrilled to share that Penten, a cybersecurity company from Canberra, was crowned the 2018 Telstra Australian Business of the Year, after also winning the Medium & Making Waves Award.

The judges were so impressed by Penten’s clear strategic vision, deep engagement for the customer and commitment to people and culture. Its innovative technology has gained the trust of Australian government agencies, propelling the business to exponential growth over the last three years.

CEO Matthew Wilson said the business strives to create world-leading cybersecurity technology for the country. However, due to the high-security nature of their operations, they often can’t even share details of their work with their families, let alone the wider public.

”We operate in a world of secrets. We don’t often get the chance to talk about the work that we’re doing, and celebrate in this way. It’s an amazing recognition and we are so grateful for the opportunity,” Mr Wilson said last night.

We also recognised five other remarkable businesses last night.

For many, it was ‘that’ moment – a memorable, stand-out moment in their business journey that will have significant impact in the future.

Scoot Boots, from Tasmania, won the Emerging & Energised Award. A game changer in the horseshoe industry, the business’ extraordinary growth, particularly in global markets, as well as its vision to increase life expectancy for horses was highly commended by the judges.

Pachamama, a childcare centre business from Western Australia which uses art and nature to encourage children to think outside the square, won the Small & Succeeding Award. The judges said Pachamama’s clear vision and business strategy, laser-like focus on its customer and dedication to providing a nurturing environment for its people, made it an outstanding business.

ThinkPlace, a strategic design consultancy from Canberra, took home the Social Change Maker Award. The judges were inspired by ThinkPlace’s vision of making the world a better place and solving problems through design. The projects the team tackle in Australia and abroad have a strong impact on communities.

Meanwhile, online book retailer Booktopia was the public’s favourite, winning the People’s Choice Award. It’s a testament to the business’ commitment to always delight its 4 million customers. The 14-year-old business has grown to 160 staff and turns over $115 million per year.

We were also proud to recognise once more the natural soft-drink brand, Nexba Beverages – who first won in 2015 – by selecting them as the first-ever 2018 Telstra Alumni Achievement Award. As the Awards helped the business gain recognition and credibility over the last three years, Nexba has achieved strong growth, raised several million dollars in capital and have developed new product ranges in close collaboration with Coles and Woolworths.

The six winners selected by the judges have incredible business minds and use their talent and ingenuity to find new and better ways to do new and better things. They’re not afraid to take a risk, to lead with innovation and to keep believing in their vision.

Congratulations to all!

The 2018 season may be over now, but nominations are already open for 2019. So if you want to nominate a business – even if it’s your own, go to the Telstra Business Awards website.

Top five future tech trends small businesses need to know now

Telstra Business Awards Business and Enterprise

Posted on September 14, 2018

2 min read

It’s clear our world is more connected than ever before and it continues to grow with an estimated 500 billion devices and things connected to the Internet by 2030.

Connection is what we do at Cisco, helping companies of all sizes connect, collaborate and communicate. For small businesses, connectivity is key to expanding networks, supporting teams and growing the business.

Having been selected as a national judge for the Telstra Business Awards this year, I have a particular interest in small business and how digital tool and technologies are transforming the way they operate in Australia. Some businesses want to improve workforce innovation and productivity, promote collaboration among employees, while allowing flexibility to work from anywhere, whilst some businesses want to enhance the customer experience and grow their business.

Nevertheless, it’s never been more important for small and medium business owners to keep their fingers on the pulse when it comes to technology and connectivity, to help drive their business forward.

Here are my top future tech trends that small businesses should be embracing:

  1. Adoption of cloud computing. So you’re able to run your business like an Enterprise grade business, simply and cost effectively.
  2. Integrated use of social and mobile. There’s no shortage of platforms for small business to reach and engage with new customers, partners and suppliers.
  3. Securing your business. This is a top priority to not only protect your business, and protect your customers’ data. Staying secure and current, no matter what size of your business.
  4. Insights from data and analytics. Simplified access through platforms and websites that will give you insights into what your customers are doing and the market trends to allow you to make important decisions.
  5. Explosion of the Internet of Things (IoT). They’ll be an amazing amount of data coming from connected devices and that provides an opportunity for small businesses like agribusiness or manufacturing to run its operations more effectively.

There are 31 small and medium business finalists in the running for the 2018 Telstra Business Awards, which will be held on the 20th of September at a Gala dinner in Melbourne.

Visit the Telstra Business Awards website for more information on the finalists.

Making the perfect elevator pitch: advice from Telstra Business Awards judge Tracey Spicer

Telstra Business Awards

Posted on September 7, 2018

4 min read

Tracey Spicer truly is an inspirational figure in the Australian media landscape. Having cemented her status in the public eye as a journalist, newsreader, and television co-host, she also authored a moving autobiography – The Good Girl Stripped Bare – and co-founded Outspoken Women, a social enterprise for women in corporate environments and marginalised communities.

We’re incredibly lucky to have Tracey joining us not only as an official National Judge for the 2018 Telstra Business Awards – but also as MC at the events.

In the lead up to the National Awards dinner, Tracey took some time out of her busy schedule to discuss pivotal moments in her career, the importance of celebrating your successes, and what she’ll be looking for when it comes to judging. She even shares some tips for entrepreneurs about the best strategies for making elevator pitches.

Reflecting on her own career trajectory, Tracey acknowledged the value in embracing opportunity – even if it presents itself in the form of a challenge.

“A lot of the outstanding moments for me in my career came completely unexpectedly. For example, losing my job after working in commercial television was terrible at the time – but it ended up being a tremendous opportunity for me to diversify.”

She also acknowledges that the direction of your path can change unexpectedly – so it pays to remain adaptable. When Tracey announced she intended to investigate gender equality in Australian media in the wake of the #MeToo movement, she never could have anticipated the volume of people who reached out to her with their stories.

“I didn’t expect the overwhelming response, but it taught me to be agile, to be able to grow within myself, and to build a business and a support network around that,” she recalls.

And when it comes to building businesses, her focus as a co-founder of Outspoken Women is on giving something back.

“We’ve had the most incredible scholarship recipients come along to our classes. Women who are survivors of domestic violence who’ve had their voices stuck in their throats for so many years, and it’s incredibly heartwarming to see them by the end of the day standing proud on stage and telling their stories.”

It’s moments like these that Tracey relishes – the opportunity to acknowledge a win – before embarking on the next challenge. It’s a practice she’d like more people to embrace.

“Take a moment to celebrate even the tiniest success. Because there will be a lot of hurdles, there will be a lot of times when you’re knocked down, and if you don’t celebrate those moments you can be really ground down,” she advises.

And speaking of celebrating success, what criteria will Tracey be looking for as a judge on the big night?

“I’m going to be looking for something unique, [that is] filling a gap in the market that’s going to grow ongoing and help a lot of people.”

She also values the input of the public – and encourages you to get involved and vote for the People’s Choice Award. This year, the public are being encouraged to vote for their favourite small and medium business who were selected as winners in the recent State and Territory Telstra Business Awards.

“I’d love people from all parts of Australia with many different backgrounds to vote”.

All the National Finalists have had to do a short filmed pitch to encourage Australians to vote for them in the People’s Choice Awards.

In turn, Tracey shares some advice for making an effective elevator pitch:

  • Be concise, because people are busy.
  • Tell people what’s in it for them – especially in regards to time and money.
  • Watch your body language – keep it open and be mindful of making strong eye contact.

Vote for your favourite business as part of the People’s Choice Award on the Telstra Business Awards website.