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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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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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Nominate a business for the 2020 Telstra Business Awards.

If you’re ready to be ‘that’ business, or you know one that is, nominate them for the 2020 Telstra Business Awards today.

Nominate now