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Categories and criteria

Everything you need to know

Before you nominate your business, or someone else’s, for the Telstra Business Awards, here’s everything you need to know. Explore our Award categories — designed to recognise and celebrate Australia’s best businesses — then check your eligibility and find out what our Judges are looking for.

The categories


Knowing Australia has such a brilliantly diverse business culture, the 2019 Telstra Business Awards are recognising Australia’s most innovative and entrepreneurial businesses across four categories. All aimed to award small to medium businesses in their respective fields. Each state event will award a State Category Winner across each four categories, as well as an overall State Winner. The individual State Category Winners will reconvene at the National Final where the National Category Winners will be announced.

Here’s all the information you need:

Emerging and Energised

This is for the newcomers (less than 3 years in operation) that are just starting out but already making a huge impact.

Small and Succeeding

For businesses that are punching above their weight. The category is open to businesses with an annual turnover less than $3 million and under 200 employees.

Medium and Making Waves

For businesses that are kicking goals in every area. The category is open to businesses with an annual turnover over $3 million and under 200 employees.

Social Change Maker

For organisations where a positive social impact is at the core of their purpose. They are applying innovative solutions to address social issues and better the world we live in. Open to not-for-profit, social enterprise and profit-for-purpose organisations (contributing a minimum of 10% of their profits back to the cause).

But the awards don’t end there. In addition to the Telstra Australian Business of the Year Award – the most prestigious award of them all – which will be chosen by our Judges and will go to one of our National Category Winners, we have one additional category - the People’s Choice award, which cannot be entered and is decided by a public vote.

People’s Choice

Voted for by the people, this Award is for businesses that have gone above and beyond. All national finalists of the current award program will be eligible for this award and announced at the National Final.

Eligibility criteria


Does your business meet the criteria?

As part of our efforts to recognise, reward and support the best Australian businesses, we’ve got a few musts (and must nots) for Awards nominees. If you have any questions about these conditions or eligibility, we’re always happy to help. Ask us a question here.

The business must:

  • Reside in Australia
  • Have a registered Australian Business Number (ABN)
  • Have been operating in Australia for at least 12 months (as at 14th March 2019)
  • Be more than 60% Australian-owned, with the owner(s) / founder(s) responsible for making the key management decisions; and
  • If entering for the Emerging and energised category have been operating in Australia between 12-36 months as at as at 14th March 2019; and
  • Earn more than $50,000 in annual revenue

The business must not:

  • Have more than 200 full-time equivalent staff as at the close of entries date, as at 14th March 2019
  • Be a listed company, a franchisee, franchisor, a club, co-operative, or a Telstra licensee
  • Be affiliated with Telstra through investments or donations
  • Be more than 50% owned by another business
  • Be a government agency
  • Have employees who have judged the Awards program in 2017 or 2018
  • Be a commercial supplier to the 2018 Awards;
  • Have filed for bankruptcy in the prior 5 years or been subject to court proceedings in the prior 12 months from the close of entry date, including in the business owner or founder’s personal capacity

Judging criteria


The Telstra Business Awards judging panel aims to recognise the best small and medium businesses in the country. Our Judges follow a broad range of criteria to find and celebrate the most deserving Australian businesses. Here’s what our experts are looking for:

Strategy & Vision

  • A visionary business strategically planning for the future
  • Creative and strategic thinking to innovate, compete and stand out
  • Has the courage to take a risk, to realise a dream — to be ‘that’ business
  • Persistence, resilience and fit for growth

Customers & Marketing

  • Solves customer problems and demonstrates a strong responsibility to customers
  • Leverages customer inputs to shape the business
  • Finds better ways to reach new markets
  • Exceeds customer expectations and delivers brilliant experiences


  • Operates effectively and productively
  • Identifies, manages and mitigates risks
  • Continuously evaluates and improves the way business is done

People & Culture

  • A strong leader with a shared vision
  • Fosters a culture of innovation, collaboration and diversity
  • Puts their people first

Social Responsibility

  • Has a strong sense of purpose to better the world we live in
  • Instills the importance of social impact in its employees
  • Makes a measurable impact on society

Financial Acumen

  • Effectively manages cash flow
  • Demonstrates a broad understanding and application of sound financial management principals
  • Makes fiscally sound and responsible decisions

Innovation & Technology

  • An innovative product/service proposition that solves customer problems
  • Innovates to take their business to the next level
  • Leverages technology to connect with customers, optimise operations and foster collaboration
  • Leverages a global marketplace

Nominate a business for ‘that’ moment in the spotlight

It only takes a moment to give a deserving business 'that' moment, nominate them for a 2020 Telstra Business Award today.

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2018 Lead Judges


For more than 25 years, the Telstra Business Awards have been built on the expertise of Australian business people. As always, our Judges lead the way – their knowledge and experience invaluable, as we celebrate the most innovative and entrepreneurial small and medium businesses in Australia.

Telstra Judge
Tracey Spicer
Journalist and Broadcaster, MC

During her 30-year career, Tracey has reported for, and anchored, national news, current affairs and lifestyle programs for ABC TV, Network Ten, Channel 9 and Sky News. Currently she works as a columnist for Fairfax, presentation trainer for Outspoken Women and the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, and media trainer at Spicer Communications. She appears regularly as a commentator on ABC TV and Channel 9. The mother-of-two is an Ambassador for Dying with Dignity, ActionAid, World Vision, Purple Our World, the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Full Stop Foundation, Cancer Council NSW, SISTER2sister, and the Learning Potential Fund at QUT, where she completed her Bachelor of Business Communications, majoring in journalism, in 1987.

Telstra Judge
Craig Tapper
AGSM @ UNSW Business School, Associate Professor

Craig Tapper is an Adjunct Associate Professor and Fellow of the AGSM@UNSW Business School. His 25-year academic career includes developing and leading postgraduate business programs in strategic management and marketing for MBA's and for corporate executive programs in Australia, Europe and across Asia. He has consulted extensively to many of Australia's leading corporations, government departments and not-for-profit organisations as well as for dozens of small and medium sized organisations, a role he continues to play. His 20+ year corporate career included management, executive and board roles across a range of industries.

Telstra Judge
Stevan Premutico
Ex founder dimmi, founder of me&u

Stevan Premutico is one of Australia’s leading tech entrepreneurs. In 1997, in the middle of the GFC he conceptualised Dimmi on the back of a napkin and went on to revolutionise the Aussie restaurant industry. In 2015, his startup was acquired by one of the great tech businesses of our time, TripAdvisor. He is an entrepreneur, a passionate tech investor, sits on the board of a couple of disruptive Aussie start-ups and strongly believes that the world (and our businesses) would be in a better place if we all acted a bit more like founders and a bit less like CEO’s. Stevan is also back at it again launching his next big startup me&u.

Telstra Judge
Anne Da Cunha
Small Business Segment Executive, Telstra

Anne Da Cunha is the Newly appointed Small Business Executive for Telstra. She is passionate about the Success of Australian Businesses and in developing ways that Telstra can partner with them, to ensure they get all the technology solutions they need to thrive and be the innovators of Australia. Anne has a diverse career spanning many sectors including; Travel, Retail and Education as well as Telecommunications. Most recently, she was the Chief Marketing Officer for Laureate Australia, which operates Torrens University Australia and a number of innovative higher education colleges. Prior to that, Anne was General Manager of Australia’s leading digital and direct wine retailer, Cellarmasters, part of Woolworths Liquor. She also has over a decade of commercial and marketing leadership experience in roles across multiple telecommunications organisations including; Carphone Warehouse, UK & Europe, and O2 Telefonica UK.

Telstra Judge
John O’Haire
Managing Director – Telstra Account

John O'Haire is the Cisco Client Director for Telstra, he is responsible for Cisco's partnership with Telstra a transformational partner globally, driving innovation creating new markets with differentiated offerings, built on world class networks and infrastructure. During his 15-year tenure at Cisco he has held a range of sales and leadership roles including partner development, commercial sales, enterprise sales, public sector and most recently with Telstra in Service Provider. This wide-ranging experience gives him a unique ability to provide value and insight across the breadth of the Telstra and Cisco relationship. John has a strong social conscious and sustains an active role in the community, particularly in sports where he enjoys playing and coaching basketball and football.

Telstra Judge
Tracey Henderson
PwC, Director

Tracey has over 10 years of consulting and senior management experience in leading strategic sales and services transformation programs and enabling business objectives through enhanced organisational effectiveness. Her expertise is in solving complex business and societal problems within the telecommunications industry and more broadly within the domestic and corporate sectors. Tracey has led the successful delivery of a range of Transformation Programs including but not exclusively: Operationalising Customer Insight, Channel Strategy, Channel Performance Improvement, Sales Excellence, Customer Value Management and Revenue Integrity.

Telstra Judge
Janine Allis
Founder, Boost Juice Bars | Executive Director, Retail Zoo

Janine is not your everyday self-made businesswoman. She grew her juice and smoothie empire in 2000 from her kitchen bench, to an international success story (500 Boost stores across 14 countries, along with brands Salas Fresh Mex, Cibo espresso and Betty’s Burgers). Janine is now sharing her knowledge with others, including through her role as a “Shark” and mentor on Channel Ten’s Shark Tank. Apart from her Directorship with Retail Zoo, Janine is a Director on the publicly-listed Michael Hill Jewelers, and was the first female director on the board of the Hawthorn Football Club. She is also the Best-selling author of The Accidental Entrepreneur, which is the story of Janine’s journey with Boost Juice.

Telstra Judge
Michael Wilkins
News Corp Australia, Managing Director NSW

Michael Wilkins is Managing Director NSW for News Corp Australia, responsible for the company's metropolitan publishing assets including The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph, and Community mastheads under the NewsLocal banner. It is the latest role in a 30-year career with the company, which began as a copy boy at the Manly Daily and progressed through various reporting and senior editing roles. He was Chief-of-Staff and State Political reporter for The Sunday Telegraph and Day Editor, Night Editor and Managing Editor of The Daily Telegraph. Michael launched Commuter Publication mX for News in Sydney in 2005. Immediately previous to his current role, Michael was Executive General Manager, NSW, General Manager, NewsLocal, General Manager of North Queensland Newspapers and News Group's Editorial Business Manager.

The award is widely recognised within the business community. It makes our pitch easier because our little brand now carries a big endorsement from Telstra. This has definitely helped us push a few doors open.

Eleanor Nurse, Over The Moo, 2017 Telstra Australian New Business Award

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