Judge offers advice for those entering 2018 Waipā Business Awards

10 April 2018

Waipa Networks Business Awards head judge Howard Davey

Quite often when people start out in business, most of their time is spent "putting out fires".

There's a lot of rushing around, fixing problems. Not much time is taken to sit down and think about where the business is heading, what's working and what's not.

Those are just some of the basic skills people entering the Waipa Networks Business Awards will learn about, as part of the judging process this year.

"If you are anything like me, when I was young in business, you spend most of your time firefighting," awards head judge, from University of Waikato Management School, Howard Davey said.

"When you start out, you'll be getting into work before your employees and leaving after they go home. You're doing stuff after dinner to keep the business going.

"How often do you actually sit down and ask, how is the business going? Where are we going from here?

"What makes our business special and what are some of the things we're doing, that we don't really need to do, to relieve some of the pressure?"

Davey made the comments at the launch of the business awards, at the Mystery Creek Events Centre in Waipa on April 5. The awards event is organised by the Cambridge, Te Awamutu and Raglan chambers of commerce. Davey had been involved in business awards judging since 1995, for various districts and chambers of commerce around the Waikato.

As head judge of the Waipa awards, he had been able to refine a model which "wasn't perfect" but was an excellent programme for business owners to gain a health check on their enterprise.

Davey said there were 10 judges who worked independently to review the businesses which entered the awards.

"There are two elements to the awards. The first is the proposal that you put forward for the awards in the first place, where people get to explain what's special about their business and why you are in business.

"The second part is about the financials and the marketing and innovation, what you have achieved through KPIs, performance indicators."

Davey said overall, the judges were keen to hear tangible evidence which showed what each business was about and how the owners planned to achieve their goals.

"We don't want to hear, yes we believe in sustainability and it's important for the future of mother earth to survive.

"We do want to hear that you've gone out and actually done something to work towards that, like sponsoring a group that's working on a tree planting project, or supported schools which are working in that area.

"We want to hear about the feedback that you've got from those things and see the evidence."

Davey said the judges would not necessarily look for businesses making large profits.

"If you have a 25 to 30 per cent growth, year on year, for the past four or five years, you may not be making much money. But growth is important for the financials, just as important as profitability."

Judges would visit each of the businesses involved in the awards to offer some feedback, which came back to Davey's point about taking time to assess.

"It's really a sit down, asking you to pause, think about your business, what it is and where it is going in the future."

Other business award winners also presented at the launch to give some feedback on how valuable they had found the judges' comments.

About 100 people attended the launch event, with a record number of 26 businesses committing to enter this year's awards.

More were expected to enter in the coming weeks.

As a follow up to the launch, information workshops will be held in Cambridge, Te Awamutu and Raglan during week of April 16.

For further information, visit: www.waipabusinessawards.co.nz

- Lawrence Gullery, Waikato Times

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