After the year that’s been, those in the world of business are due for some well-deserved recognition (not to mention a celebration). That’s why the Xero Australia Awards are back for FY22 to acknowledge and share all of the hard work and resilience that went into FY21.
This year, we have 13 major award categories in total, acknowledging the incredible variety of businesses in Xero’s community. Whether it’s a salon run by a ‘midlifepreneur’, a creative cloud accounting firm or a global SaaS company, there’s truly an award for everyone.
Alongside the core benchmarks, each award has its own unique nomination criteria, meaning you can enter multiple categories depending on your business’ eligibility.
We know that it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to award nominations. So to help your business put its best foot forward, we spoke to the experts – that is, our 2019 Xero Award winners.
Keep on reading to discover their tips and practical advice to help you nail your application and take out the winner’s trophy:
Trust your gut in knowing if you’re ready to apply
“Am I ready to apply?” is a question that many of our past winners have likely asked themselves and their team. And it turns out there’s no right or wrong answer – it comes down to believing that your business has what it takes.
For Megan Winter of Unstoppable eCommerce, applying for the Xero Awards was a throw of the dice. She says, “When I saw the awards, I didn’t expect for us to win because I didn’t think we were ready.” However, the application process was “super introspective,” explains Megan, empowering her “true brand voice to shine through” and ultimately take home the Emerging Small Business of the Year Award.
Paul Meissner of 5 Ways Group shared a similar experience. He says, “The nomination process was a great opportunity to reflect on our firm’s success. I realised we could draw on many of our achievements to put forward a strong application.” He adds, “If you’ve done good things and really given it a go, then apply – no one else will do it for you.”
Meryl Johnston of Bean Ninjas took a different approach, keeping her eye on the prize for a number of years. “We wanted to be Xero’s Bookkeeping Partner of the Year, and it was something that we considered as we made different decisions in our practice. For us, it wasn’t about feeling ready; it was about knowing that it was something we wanted to achieve and building a plan around how we were going to get there,” she says.
There are no rules when it comes to knowing if your business is ready to apply. Instead, like Megan, Paul and Meryl explain, it’s all about the right attitude, and putting some thought into your business’ achievements.
Consider the criteria carefully
In any awards program, it’s important to remember your audience: the judging panel. Luckily, the nomination criteria offers guidance and clues on exactly what the judges are looking for.
Before you apply, make sure you read through it to consider which categories are the best fit for your business. Then, craft your nomination with each awards’ benchmarks front-of-mind – considering not only how to answer each question but why the judges might be asking it. As David Dahmn of Health and Life suggests, “Make sure you can talk to the criteria, and carefully follow each guideline.”
Be authentic to your brand
Of all the past winners we spoke to, the same piece of advice kept coming up: be authentic.
Take Meryl’s story for example; her ability to genuinely convey the Bean Ninjas brand was a big part of her firm’s success. She explains, “We wanted to stand out in a way that was true to ourselves, so I recorded a video and shared photos to try and tell our story.”
The same can be said for David of Health and Life. He says authenticity is key to a successful nomination and suggests, “Sharing your vision, and telling the judges in practical terms how Xero and its partners have helped you achieve your strategic goals.” He adds, “Tell them about your journey and plans for the future.”
Lastly, David points out that it’s important to “be honest and be you, because the judges can tell if you’re genuine” – and that could be your winning ticket.