Business Awards Are Great for Babies
Have you ever thought about entering a business award? What’s stopping you?
Back in 1996 I owned and operated a five-year-old Small Business and along with five staff we supplied the film and TV industry with production equipment. We were all just babies, all under 27 years of age and we were doing our best to build a niche business in a tight and competitive market.
As the owner, I was always looking for an edge. When I spotted an advertisement for the Telstra Small Business Awards, the words on the page that caught my attention were ‘entering has its own rewards’. I decided to enter my business and with only 16 days until entries closed, the comprehensive application arrived by post and I spent two solid weeks listing, analysing and reporting to complete my competition entry, which was over forty pages when finished.
The application form was exhaustive and required considered responses to every aspect of a Small Business including business plans, case studies, marketing samples, financials, spread sheets, projections and customer testimonials.
By the time I was finished it felt like I had undertaken a crash course mini MBA dissecting my business, pulling all the elements together and putting it all in writing. Rather than seeing the competition entry as being the end of a very worthy exercise, I could see I was staring at the framework of the opportunity to improve my business for my staff and my customers.
I expanded on my written responses to document all the little things we were doing to make our customers smile. I started writing down what we did differently, what we were passionate about, what we considered non negotiable, all the things that we as a business did that our competitors did not do. I had created a compendium that we affectionately called “How we do things around here” and my staff embraced it because they lived it and it reflected them.
No one was more surprised than all of us when Ernst & Young sent a team to spend a week at our office to verify my awards entry application. They were very thorough and a little intimidating however shortly after we were nominated as award finalists from over 5,000 entries that year.
A month later my staff and I were at a black tie ceremony accepting the 1997 Telstra NSW Government Award for Best Small Business in NSW. The press and promotions that followed raised our business profile enormously, turnover increased and prospective buyers took an interest and the business was sold to a competitor for a princely sum completing a ten year journey from start to sold.
I revisited my compendium of business operations and reformatted it with the help of a literary agent and Simon & Schuster published my first book 500 Award Winning Small Business Secrets, which was a multiple business book success with over 40,000 sales.
There are multiple business awards available these days and on reflection, ‘entering has its own rewards’ is still the most important message of my journey so I would encourage you to take the challenge especially if your business is young and you feel like a baby because what you will learn along the way will change your small business and change you as a person for the better and who knows, it may even be your time to shine.
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