As a new start up business, it was a relatively daunting proposition to consider entering the Westpac Business Excellence Awards. After all, they must be for the large businesses making truck loads of money.. right?
After some careful consideration, and some hefty encouragement, we summoned up the courage to put our entry in. The templated entry form helped a lot, and enabled us to get an idea of what the judges wanted to know. Completing this template really helped us a business to see where others put value on a business, including processes, environmental impact, leadership, community involvement and staff management. It also enabled us to look at areas where we were a bit thin on the ground, or areas we hadn’t considered to be of major importance in the first 18 months trading.
Handing in the application form, with supporting evidence attached was pretty scary, as it was putting the business out there, open to criticism while suggesting that we’re up there with Rotorua’s best. It was so scary we didn’t tell anyone, due to the fear of failure, or our entry not progressing any further.
We were incredibly nervous when we heard that two notable judges were coming to see us for a few hours to learn more about the business. What would they want to know, what would they think of us and our home office, how could we prepare?
Nerves aside, this made us think about how we could make improvements to the business, which is, all in all an invaluable process, and one that often gets sidelined without any urgency. Turns out the preparations we put in place prior to the visit were not even covered! But we had still done them which was a good thing.
After the interview we then had to provide our financial information – this was quite unsettling, would our numbers stack up?
When the document came through that we were required to complete, it was pleasing that they wanted approximately 5 ratios, and no values. This made us feel better about releasing financial information, in knowing that the judges didn’t know our exact turnover, profits, debts and the like. It enables the businesses peace of mind as they are able to keep some information confidential.
The Waiting Game:
Now was the waiting game, not knowing who we were up against, and whether we would make the finals. Had we got our message across to the judges?
A few days passed and the nerves started sinking in, until we got the official phone call and email confirming we were a finalist in the business awards!
What an awesome achievement and one we are very proud of. We had to keep the news under wraps until it was published in the Daily Post the following day – what a tough job! Reading the announcement we realised what tough competition we are up against, with amazing local businesses in our category of the Emerging Business Awards.
Time to put our thinking caps on to figure out how we can persuade the judges in our 30 minute presentation, that we should be the ones to take it out. The planning sessions we had for the presentation were great for team building, and involved us all getting involved, and being personally responsible for different aspects of the presentation. It included days out on the road visiting our fantastic clients and filming a couple of videos for our presentation. Planning the presentation brought us together as a team, and ensured we were all on the same page in terms of where we were going, what we were proudest of, and how we wanted to come across as a company.
We were first up, on the first day of presentations, so we knew we had to make a lasting impression. We presented with a heap of energy, we all remembered our lines, and our technology worked perfectly – couldn’t have asked for better! By 10am Saturday it was all over and we could ‘relax’ until awards night.
The Awards Night:
The excitement for awards night was huge, and we saw it as a great opportunity to celebrate all of our successes during the first phase of business growth. Something we decided people don’t do enough – celebrate the successes! We dressed up to the nines, with our amazing support crew filling our table of 10. A few drinks and nibbles prior to calm the nerves, and we were off.
The venue and awards night was impressive, with stunning decorations, and delicious food. With 50 tables of ten it was not a small affair. There was a real atmosphere of what an honour it was to be there, and a buzz celebrating the best businesses in the Rotorua region. Rotorua Canopy Tours took out our category for emerging business, which was well deserved. Like we said, we knew we were up against some tough competition! It was great learning about other businesses that were finalists, and seeing the overall award go to Okere Falls store – an amazing achievement.
On the Monday following the business awards weekend, we reflected on the journey we had been on. We all decided that it was well worth it, and we would definately do it again. It taught us a lot about ourselves as individuals, about Dubzz, and about how we are seen in the market place. We all had fun too, which was a real bonus.
A few weeks followed and the written feedback came from the judges (which all entrants receive). This was great as it was like seeing the business through fresh eyes. Some of the comments were things we knew we needed to, or planned to do better. Other comments were completely new ideas, which are priceless. Our profile grew from being a finalist in the business awards, we have had increased enquiries, and we have even had calls from some of the judges that need some work done in the online space.
To sum it all up, entering the Westpac Business Excellence Awards is no small task as it requires a heap of time and effort, but if you are serious about improving your business, it is totally worth it!
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