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Judges reveal what makes a winner

Adam Zuchetti
Adam Zuchetti
13 November 2017 4 minute readShare

Take a peek into some of the judges comments about last year’s Optus My Business Awards winners and their thoughts about what makes an entry worthy of being crowned the winner.

When it comes to business awards, one of the most commonly asked questions we, at My Business, field is: “What do the judges look for?”.

Last year’s judges included an illustrious group of industry professionals and experts, meaning they know a thing or two about what makes a sound business.

With submissions now open for the 2018 Optus My Business Awards, let’s look back at the main factors that judges look for when sifting through hundreds of entries, and what makes one submission stand out from the crowd:

1. You’ve got to be in it to win it

You may think your business is the best there is – and you may be right. But if you haven’t entered, then you simply don’t stand a chance. Plain and simple.

2. Evidence

Grandiose statements may be an advertiser’s dream, but if you can’t back them up with facts, figures and testimonials, judges will likely overlook your submission. Consider the process just like a job interview, where the judges are the hiring managers and you are the jobseeker.

As an employer, you know what the hiring manager wants to see, so turn the tables and give the judges what they want to see – proof.

An important addendum to this point is inclusion. Leaving key facts out of your submission effectively leaves the judges in the dark – they assume the most important points have been provided. So be diligent in including everything you want considered as part of your submission.

“Very strong application based on an innovative, disruptive business model, strong also on specifics. Excellent business.”

 - Judges’ comments on Professional Services Business of the Year and overall Business of the Year, Source Legal

3. Honesty and integrity

It always pays to be honest, as dishonesty invariably has a way of coming to light, which will do you no favour. But being brutally honest is a great way of standing out from the rest of the crowd. Making your submission relatable, raw and real will go a long way to getting the judges on your side, and add extra weight to the essential facts and figures.

“This is an outstanding entry and a truly innovative and scalable business which deserves its every success. The story of coming back from total failure caused by the GFC to produce an in-demand product range is inspiring.”

 - Judges’ comments on Businesswoman of the Year, Diem Fuggersberger of Berger Ingredients / Coco & Lucas’ Kitchen

4. Profitable and sustainable business model

Great ideas are one thing, but business awards celebrate just that – business. As such, judges want to see not just a good idea, but one that has been successfully commercialised, is delivering revenue and has ongoing potential. Hence demonstrating your ability to derive profits, and to scale in future, is crucial.

“A terrific business model that is suited to the evolution and growth in that segment of the economy. Agility and vision are evident in the business plan which is excellent to see.”

- Judges’ comments about Finance Business of the Year, zipMoney

5. Ongoing progress and development

Good businesses and leaders are brilliant at what they do. But great businesses and their leaders never rest on their laurels. They realise they are not perfect, and no matter the results and achievements they have notched up-to-date, they continue to seek opportunities for improvement.

Judges want to see this – to know that you are continuing to develop, to enhance your business, to grow with your customers and to continually strive for better.

Whether it be further education and training in your field, innovation in your products or methods, response to customer feedback or investment in employee training, demonstrating an active drive for continual improvement will go a long way to winning the judges’ favour.

Refreshing and customer-centric rethink on the provision of legal services that have been traditionally viewed as an unfriendly experience.”

- Judges’ comments on Customer Service Experience of the Year winner, LegalVision

6. Answer the question

Sounds basic, but you would be surprised how many people don’t actually do this. Not doing so is almost a guaranteed way to have your submission shoved to the ‘discard’ pile.

7. A quality application

It isn’t just your business the judges are looking at – they are judging your application. Time and again, the winners were the ones who provided an application that was clear, concise and factual.

If you have the opportunity, go the extra mile too. A video in support of your application is a great example – it lifts facts and figures off the page and lets the judges connect with you as a person, to see your passion and drive.

Yes, it can take some time to put together such a submission, but like anything in business, the more you invest into it, the more likely you are to deliver the result you want.

Strong application for a good business model.”

- Judges’ comments about Wholesale Business of the Year, SalonDepot

8. It’s about your customers, not you

For the most part, judges aren’t interested in you. They are more interested in what you do for others – primarily your customers, but also your employees. After all, business is fundamentally a people game, and without the support of people working in and buying from a business, there is nothing.

As such, be sure to discuss the strategies, processes and deliverables your business has implemented, and the impacts they have had on the people around you.

A business that is registering tremendous growth and expansion. A strong focus on staff and clients, which is almost always a recipe for future success.”

- Judges’ comments on Business Leader of the Year, Victoria Kluth of Araza

Judges reveal what makes a winner
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Adam Zuchetti
Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti is the former editor of MyBusiness and a senior freelance media professional, specialising in the fields of business, personal finance and property. In 2020, he also embarked on his own business journey – inspired in part by the entrepreneurs and founders he had met through his journalistic work – with the launch of customised pet gifting and subscription service Paws N’ All.

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