Having refreshed the Telstra Business Awards categories this year, we caught up with our 2017 New Business Award alumni to find out what it took for them to win, and their advice for emerging businesses considering entering.

In the 26th year of the Telstra Business Awards, we’ve made some changes to the program to provide even more value to the business community. As well as a streamlined entry form, new Business Benchmark Reports for each entrant and updated judging criteria, we have refreshed the Awards categories to better recognise Australia’s most innovative and entrepreneurial businesses.

Once again, we’re encouraging small and medium businesses to enter the Telstra Business Awards in 2018 to receive the recognition they deserve – and make this year the year that their businesses strive further towards success.

One of the refreshed categories in this year’s Awards is ‘Emerging and Energised’. This category is for the newcomers (less than three years in operation) that are just starting out but are already making a huge impact.

Emerging and Energised is the evolution of our previous New Business Award. With this in mind, we sat down with our New Business Award alumni for their views on what it takes to win.

Small business, big impact

Over The Moo - Telstra Business Awards

A common trait among our New Business Award alumni was that they were all relatively small businesses that were already making a big impact.

Alexander Houseman, co-founder of 2017 Australian New Business of the Year, said although Over The Moo had been in business just two and a half years with only three staff members, its dairy-free desserts were already stocked in more than 500 Woolworths stores. Alex believes the company’s Awards success can be attributed to a strong emphasis on company values and team culture, which lifted the team’s commitment, performance and dedication.

Nick Ellsmore, of 2017 Telstra Victorian Business of the Year Hivint, said “what set us apart was that we saw opportunities to collaborate where others saw opportunities to compete.

“Having delivered thousands of projects for everyone from the United Nations through to some of the world’s largest companies, we saw businesses wasting massive amounts of money on consultants, solving cyber security problems that had already been solved somewhere else.

“We decided to enter because our business had gone from a start-up, to having around 30 staff in just a couple of years. We felt we had a good story to tell and, if successful, it would be the incredible external validation of everything we were trying to achieve.”

Paths to success

So, how did winning a Telstra Business Award energise the businesses of our alumni? Over The Moo’s Alex said that the Awards were important for public perception. “Winning helped build relationships with our customers and led to some really positive media coverage, indirectly contributing to strong sales. Internally, it gave our team a stronger sense of confidence, validation of all their hard work, and momentum for the future.”

Over The Moo - Telstra Business Awards

For Hivint, the visibility of the Awards and Telstra’s own sizeable scale was an advantage. “While external feedback was one positive, the amount of visibility winning businesses gained through the Awards was something we wanted even more.”

Similarly, Tom Rayner of 2017 Telstra South Australian New Business Award winner Myriota said the validation his company received was incredibly important as it encouraged further success. “Winning let us know we were on the right track and was also one catalyst that led us to launch into the US market.”

Tips for success

We asked Tom for his advice to businesses who are considering entering. He said the Awards process itself was an important benchmark for his business as a whole. “Take the nomination process as an opportunity to assess where you are heading and look for areas that might need attention. I also recommend engaging your whole team in the nomination process. We found it a great way to stimulate discussion about the direction the business was heading in.”

As for what Hivint learnt from the judges and the Awards process, Nick said it allowed for a wider perspective on his tech-heavy business. “Working in cybersecurity, it’s easy to forget that you’re often speaking with people who already get it. Through the Awards process, and from the judges’ feedback, we learned our message was resonating beyond the ‘cyber-bubble’ and hitting a mark with the business world more broadly.”

As our alumni have outlined, you don’t need to be big to have an impact – or to win a Telstra Business Award. To make this year ‘that’ year for your business, nominate before the 28th of March.

Anyone can nominate, so if you know an emerging business that is energising its industry, nominate them for a Telstra Business Award today.

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