Read times: 5-minute read

What a whirlwind that was!

I received an email almost 12 months ago now – ‘you have been nominated for the Telstra Best of Business Awards, click here to enter your business’

In 2017 I had some experience with Telstra’s awards program, and what I remembered most was the clarity I received about my business as I worked through each stage. Despite having no confidence at the time and being selected as a finalist, I was told by one of the judges I was a close second to the overall prize. This boosted my confidence in myself and my business exponentially, and since that day I always intended on doing it again.

So as I received the nomination I clicked through, and began putting my entry together.

The Telstra Awards are a rigorous process, so it’s not something you can breeze through or do in a weekend. There are four stages, each more involved than the one before it. You are notified after each round whether or not you have made it through, and if you do, you continue on to that next level. Each level they want to understand your business on a deeper level than the one that passed.

From the beginning I had the final round in my sights – the pitch pack – and so I put it all out on the table from the beginning.

The process 

The first round is multiple choice, social media links, your website and a short bio on your business purpose and story. If you’re selected to share more about your business you enter stage two, which were 3-minute videos responses on all aspects of your business, including; 

  • Company purpose and solution
  • Culture and team
  • Financials and future 
  • Business story 

They offer specific categories to best suit your business, I chose ‘Accelerating Women’ and ‘Championing Health’. For each category you submit additional answers to explain how you are contributing to Australia in alignment with the criteria of that specific category.

Once I reached the third round, I almost called it! It required 5 x 5 1500 word answers to each aspect of your business. As a solo entrant I struggled to complete it alongside my client load. You also don’t realise how much information there is to share, and how little 1500 words is, when you’re trying to explain what you do to strangers!

With the editing support of a long-term client, I passed through that stage to the interview stage – a 30-minute interview with the judges. They were extremely knowledgeable in their own fields and by this stage knew all there was to know about your business and vision.

From there, I made it through to the awards night as a State Finalist in both my chosen categories. I was SO excited!

The pitch deck was further away than I thought though – I needed to WIN in order to give my pitch. 

I WON the Accelerating Women award!

Dressed up in a gown, hair and makeup done, I attended the awards night with my two favourite people – my bestie and my partner. 

Then came the announcement – ‘I am so proud to announce that the winner is, Wildly Strong’. I was shocked! I took the stage to accept my award and deliver my acceptance speech. I was overwhelmed but also just so happy and proud. 

It was the best thing I have experienced in my business so far. And it’s not for the reason you may think.

I have no formal training in business. I am heart-led and my intuition is what brought me to where I am now. I followed my gut, shared my story and supported women in overcoming the same struggles I have overcome.

So I have no mentorship, and I get no business feedback, but the awards program offers me an opportunity for just that. It asks important questions of you as a business owner, and forces you to get clear on your past, present and future in a way that makes sense to strangers – not one of my strong points!

The National Experience 

So here I am ready to put together a pitch pack – the part I was most excited about. Judges from across Australia were selected for the panel, and you have 10 minutes to pitch your business to them. Aware of the fact that I had no formal training or any clue about corporate lingo, I put together a pitch that I was super proud of. 

They asked me questions around investment, how I was going to ‘challenge the establishment’ and things like this, to which I replied I would have to get a mentor. I hadn’t thought this far ahead, as I don’t have many resources available to me.

They gave me really great advice on what I could do to grow my business with the resources I did have – creating partnerships with other professionals that my work gels well with.

So a night of mingling, a pitch pack presented to judges, a masterclass where we met the CEO of Telstra, and a 6-hour long awards ceremony I was presented with my state finalist award. I didn’t win the national prize, but as a realist I wasn’t expecting I would. It was the experience I was seeking and the clarity around my own business journey that was most important to me.

Overall, it was an amazing experience. I have such clarity around who I serve, the direction I am taking, the story that led me here, and what I need to do next in order to continue accelerating women into the future.

I was offered a speaking opportunity with the Defense Force, an article in the Canberra Weekly, an interview with one of the judges Div Pillay in June, and I made an appearance on Sunrise off the back of this awards program. These are valuable experiences that came off the back of the publicity I received in the awards program.

Where am I going now?

If I am honest, I am resting! The two awards ceremonies were on either side of my PTSD healing sessions in Byron Bay. I didn’t really get a chance or space to process what came up in my session, and I fell behind on client work! I am still catching up.

So, it’s a rest from me, and I have a few exciting things in the pipelines that I can’t tell you about yet – but it’s coming sometime in September.

The Telstra 2024 Best of Business Awards nominations are now open, so if you know of a business that could benefit from this process in the future, be sure to nominate them here!

 

 

 

 

 

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