Pictured above (L-R) Ashlee Lance, Director/Physiotherapist at Treehouse Physiotherapy, Sarah Gee, Director/Lawyer at Curium Legal and Be.Bendigo Excellence Awards chair Eve Ritchens.
Winning an award can be a thrilling and validating experience, but what often goes unnoticed is the hard work, dedication and perseverance that goes into the process leading up to it.
More than 100 local business owners attended the Bendigo Bank and Be.Bendigo Business Excellence Nominee Morning Tea on Thursday 4 May at ChatterBox Lounge to congratulate the nominees across all 19 categories.
The audience heard from last year's award winners Sarah Gee from Curium Legal and Ashlee Lance from Treehouse Paediatrics, who both reflected on their experience and offered insight into what it takes to submit an award-winning application.
Sarah, who has featured in OAK Magazine and on A Friend of Mine podcast, had been in business 17 months when she won 2022 Young Professional of the Year.
“I had a session with a local branding strategist, Natalie from Words on a Page, and we were talking about my business voice, marketing, really consistent messaging, how I speak about my business on social media, and all of those things that we have to do as business owners,” says Sarah.
“My homework was to write my application for this award. It was a really good exercise in flexing that muscle; talking about my business and implementing all of the things that Nat has spoken about with me.”
Treehouse Paediatrics is a dynamic paediatric allied health service providing physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech pathology and podiatry to kids in Bendigo and surrounding regions. The business had been operating for only 18 months before it won the coveted Emerging and Energised Award in 2022.
Ash described the application process as a “mini audit” on her business, and found it beneficial to include her staff in the process.
“While we had established values, vision and mission, the awards process made us look deeper and think about how that influences our strategy and direction of our business. You walk away with a greater understanding, better governance and a renewed energy towards your goals," says Ash.
“I included my staff in the development of our application. It brought us together as a team and re-energised us.
"Particularly in health care delivery, you can get caught up in the day-to-day activity and you can lose sight of what you set out to achieve. This process reminds you and your team about what you achieve and what you are proud of which is good for morale."
When applying for an award, it is essential to be genuine and honest about your accomplishments, experiences and contributions to the business world.
Sarah encourages applicants to share the more human aspect of your business and tell your story from the heart.
“There's this great piece in the application process that talks about strategy, your strengths and weaknesses and all of those really important things that we do as businesses. But I think the judges are looking for the gold underneath. They're looking for why do you do what you do,” says Sarah.
“Most of us work silly hours on our business and we agonise over the tough decisions we have to make as a business owner. But that's what the judges want to see. They want to see you're making an excellent business because you're coming from a place of passion.
“I would really focus on that voice that's you, and trying to get that to shine through. When you look at the business, it's about the people - whether that's you, whether it's your staff. The judges want to see the people and the heart behind it.”
Ash recommends not holding back when it comes to the question, ‘What do you really want us to know about your business?’.
“Use that question to really empty your heart out about your business. Like everyone, we are passionate about our business, and so we included testimonials from our kids to show what changes we made to their lives,” says Ash
“I felt we were really honest in our application and talked about our motivators and long term vision. Being authentic gives your application a real voice rather than business jargon.
"Be.Bendigo is looking to celebrate the business diversity in this region and I feel like sharing our vision and the dream of what we wanted to achieve may have boosted our application.”
Not only did the nominee morning tea event offer an opportunity to celebrate each other's nominations but also recognise the incredible work of these two women and inspire the next generation of female entrepreneurs and leaders within the room.