Don’t let apathy rule — see how your business measures up

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Terry Sage of Trades Coaching New Zealand

We have just gone through the 2014 Northland Business Excellence awards, an institution that our sister company Business Coaching New Zealand has been a part of for the past eight years as a category sponsor.

We sponsor the Emerging Business section and, I have to say, love every minute of it. For us Northlanders it’s about the only opportunity to get all tarted up in new clothes, with fancy hair, and enjoy a night out with 400 other like-minded business owners. And that’s just from the boys’ perspective — the girls love it too.

But sitting here at my desk sending congratulations and commiserations emails, it occurred to me there were no entries from the construction industry. The closest one was from a timber mill.

Is this just a coincidence? Am I reading something into this that isn’t really there or is there a genuine reason for this apathy?

It could be that you would rather put your efforts into competitions such as House of the Year or through your suppliers or trade organisations — and that’s all good as they are worth causes. Or is it pure apathy?

Can’t be bothered, it’s a waste of time, got better things to do like earn money, what’s the point, what do I get from it? These are all comments we get when we talk about business awards, and all are relevant. 

So let’s explore what you can get out of entering a business award. Well, the obvious is a trophy, a bunch of flowers and a certificate for the office wall. Then there is the marketing angle and the promotion of having “award winner” plastered over everything.

There’s the networking and recognition from the big night itself. It’s an awesome team building event by celebrating success with all your staff being present, a real feeling of being part of something great. And there is the oneupmanship over all the competition.

“Hang on a minute — you only get this if you win. What about all the others who enter and lose,” I hear you say? Great question, which leads on to why you should enter.

The best reason to enter is you get to look at your business from a different angle to working in it every day of the week. It opens your eyes to things that are missing, have slipped through, never got around to or even never knew existed.

All the regional awards are run slightly differently from each other, but the judging process covers not only business 101 but more in-depth analysis.

The Northland awards look at leadership, planning, staff, customers, processes, marketing, financial, health and safety and sustainability, to name the main areas.

Just think about taking the time out of your daily grind to answer some questions on these points and looking at how your business operates — or, more to the point, doesn’t operate — in these areas.

What sort of improvements could you start making to the business? Add to that the feedback the judges give you which, effectively, is free business coaching, to help the business along.

Bottom line is, it takes effort to do it. It is not an easy process to open the doors and be scrutinised by strangers and sometimes criticised (professionally of course), but the rewards are huge. It’s not about just taking away the prize but the inward look at the business you thought you knew everything about.

My advice from a purely business growth point of view — “just do it”, give it a go. Don’t persist with an apathetic attitude — outshine your competitors and show the general public you are a winner.

Let us know if you are entering, and we’d be more than happy to read over your entry before you submit it — just to add our viewpoint gained from eight years’ awards experience.