we recently attended the Telstra Business awards – and won the Best Medium Business NSW 2015!
To win such a prestigious and competitive award is really a huge achievement for our business. This is the third time we entered the awards and the third time we have made it to the finals. In 2010 we were lucky enough to make it to the finals and achieve the same position of winning the Best Medium Business NSW from the Telstra Business Awards team. Each year that we have entered we are overwhelmed by the other finalists. They are creative, innovative and amazing business owners who work hard every single day – just like us – to deliver the very best experience, service and outcomes for their clients. Their stories are inspiring, emotional, and amazing. Sometimes I wonder ‘Where do they get these ideas from?’. Then I speak to them and I am blown away by their passion and energy for what they do.
We were presented with the award by Tony Nash, CEO of Booktopia who was the winner of the award last year. Tony Nash is an inspiration to business owners. He tells an amazing story of starting his business, growth and investment.
Another thing you might be struck by in Tony’s speech is that he entered the awards in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Yep that’s right 4 times! You know that old gem ‘Persistence pays’? Booktopia winning the award in 2014 was a nod to his and his team’s persistence. There is no success without hard work, but hard work is mostly about persistence. Keeping on going when the going gets tough. Some might have seen not winning the award in 2011, 2012 and 2013 as failures. Not Tony Nash! He kept on going and one would assume applying the learning he got each year until 2014 – boom! Booktopia was a winner! It reminds me of James Dyson who invented the Dyson vacuum cleaner who has been quoted as building 5127 prototypes of his now famous vacuum before hitting on one that worked.
The process itself of entering the Telstra Business Awards is not an easy one. In fact this year there were around 5,200 entries so even to be a finalist was a huge achievement – let alone to win your category. To submit an entry you have to fill in around 100 questions. Some range from 100 word answers to 500 word answers. It’s all online so you have to be very careful that you use all the words you have to tell your story but don’t go over the limit either.
At the end of the judging process whether you win or lose you are given a business health check. This is an indication of where you are doing well in your business and where you can improve. It’s like getting a report card but for your business. Many of the finalists in the Best Medium Business NSW awards mentioned that working through the questions and getting the business health check was a very useful process. They say that having to think about specific areas of their business helps them see holes or opportunities. Then getting the health check report shows them where they sit against other businesses too.
Then if your business is short listed you get a call from the Telstra Awards team and are told that you will have two judges come to your business. They spend 45 minutes asking you specific questions about your business and asking you to show them your policies, procedures and plans. I was a bit freaked out by them asking to see my marketing plan because I thought they were after a printed one. We don’t do our plans like that anymore but instead use an online project management tool called Basecamp. So I ended up showing them how we plan our marketing activities in Basecamp, and then break them down into smaller chunks for the team to work on in another online collaboration tool called Trello. I was relieved when this seemed to be ok.
Then just before the awards night we had the opportunity to network with the other finalists in Telstra’s office in George Street, Sydney. Not just the Best Medium Business NSW finalists either. There were people who had entered the Small Business category, the Micro-Business category, the Start-up category, and Regional Business category. It was here we got to meet all of the category finalists and hear their stories. There were people from regional NSW, many different businesses from a law firm to a sugar refinery plant. It was great to speak to many of the finalists and build relationships. Some of which may even turn into revenue generating relationships for our businesses.
Then the next night we all dressed up in our best gear and headed into the city again to the Westin Hotel in Martin Place. It was an exciting night filled with laughter, anticipation, recognition and tears. Our CEO Trent Brown and I attended on behalf of Ezypay. As we had won the Best Medium Business NSW category once before in 2010 we were thinking that our chances of winning again were very slim. I thought we at least had a one in five chance as there were five finalists, but always his harshest critic Trent thought there was a zero chance of winning. As the MC announced the winner and we heard that distinctive “Ezzz” sound we both looked at each other in amazement because neither of us could really believe it.
You can see Trent’s acceptance speech for the Best Medium Business NSW in the video below and how genuinely surprised he is.
However always the professional Trent left his disbelief on the table and rallied to make an acceptance speech. He spoke from the heart and thanked the team of people across many countries who work hard every day to deliver the best outcomes for our clients. He also spoke about the founder of our business George Holman and his foresight to offer recurring billing in his fitness business 20 years ago in Vital Health Club – his gym in Pennant Hills. He also recognised the financial scarifies George and other business founders like him make and continue to make, to create and grow a business.
So the next step for Ezypay is the National awards next week at Star City Casino. Yes there is going to be more judging, and more networking and more celebrations. Whether we win or lose at the National awards we feel like winners because this has been a great experience and enabled by a great team.
A thank you to the Telstra Awards team and their sponsors who support businesses like ours and create the opportunity for these experiences.
For a list of awards won by Ezypay including the Best Medium Business NSW awards you can see them all here on the awards page.