Media Release, 06 February 2012

Analysis of some of Australia’s top-performing small and medium businesses has shown rising use of online marketing, high customer satisfaction and major benefits from conducting supplier reviews.

An in-depth ‘health check’ of about 400 businesses in last year’s Telstra Australian Business Awards also showed that while many business owners are achieving  world’s best practice in some areas of business, only one in five has a succession plan.

Entries open today for the 2012 Awards and one of the benefits each entrant receives is a free 70-page Business Health Check report that assesses their individual performance against international benchmarking standards, current legislation and accepted industry best practice.

Collette Harkins, co-owner of leading Australian glass recycling business Colmax Glass, a 2011 National Awards winner which operates plants in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and WA, urged small and medium business to enter the Awards and take advantage of the Business Health Check.

“Receiving a personal report on your business is a real incentive to enter the Telstra Awards. We found it incredibly helpful as a way of benchmarking what we do across a range of business areas.  It was particularly useful in identifying areas of weakness where we needed to bolster our resources.

“In a small business, your skill set can be limited by the experience of the owners, to the point you don’t even realise you’ve neglected something important.  In our case we found the feedback on marketing and planning particularly helpful as we develop new products.”  Mrs Harkins said.

Will Irving, Telstra Business Group Managing Director and Telstra Australian Business Awards Ambassador, urged small and medium businesses to get their entries in by the closing date of 2 April.

“The Business Health Check is beneficial and informative for every entrant – it helps them grow their business tomorrow by knowing where it is today,” Mr Irving said.

In 2012, a new Award, the HTC Start-Up Award, has been introduced to recognise entrepreneurial businesses that have been operating for between one and three years.

For finalists and winners, the Awards bring public profile, a share of $500,000 in cash and prizes and the privilege of joining an exclusive national business alumni.

Performance across seven areas of sales and marketing, customers, employees, planning and performance, financials, innovation and social responsibility was evaluated from detailed responses of the 2011 Telstra Awards participants. Analysis, undertaken by the NSW Business Chamber, shows:

  • Ninety-three per cent of the businesses have a website and the websites (70 per cent) were the second most popular marketing channel after the sales force (80 per cent) 
  • About one in five of the businesses’ customers (19 per cent) were 100 per cent satisfied with their current level of service while 72 per cent had satisfaction levels above 90 per cent
  • Ninety-seven per cent of businesses could clearly differentiate the benefits of their products and services from those of their competitors 
  • Forty-one per cent offered incentives or bonus programs to all staff and nearly 90 per cent reported no industrial issues
  • Ninety per cent had a clearly documented business plan for at least the next year (although 38 per cent admitted it was only partly documented) and a quarter track progress to plan each month 
  • Thirty-five per cent had no documented risk management system in place and 23 per cent were not confident they were covered for intellectual property protection
  • Of businesses that conducted supplier reviews in the past year, almost two-thirds reported major benefits including reduced costs, better customer service, increased reliability of delivery and better quality products 
  • Ninety-six per cent regularly measured their pricing against costs to ensure profitable operating margins and 62 per cent had contingencies equal to three months’ sales put aside.
  • Only one in 10 entrants believe they are able to continue the running of their business if they are away for a period of more than two weeks.


The 2012 Telstra Australian Business Awards have five Award categories:

1. HTC Start-Up Award – For businesses that have been operating for between one and three years and have up to 200 employees.

2. News Limited Micro-Business Award - For businesses with five or less employees.

3. MYOB Small Business Award - For businesses with more than five employees, and up to 20 employees.

4. Commonwealth Bank Medium Business Award - For businesses with more than 20 employees, and up to 200 employees.

5. Telstra Regional Award – For businesses in each state and territory located outside the metropolitan areas of the capital cities.

After entries close, the Australian public can vote for their favourite business in the 1300Australia People’s Choice Award from 4 April. State and territory People’s Choice Awards are open to all entrants.

State and territory winners of the five Award categories will go on to the national Telstra Australian Business Awards in Sydney on 29 August 2012, where the 2012 Telstra Australian Business of the Year will be announced.
Information on nominating and entering the Awards or voting for the 1300Australia People’s Choice Award is available at or by calling the Telstra Business Awards Team on 1800 262 323.

Editors note:
The Business Health Check has been developed by Telstra Business in consultation with the NSW Business Chamber and is based on international benchmarking standards, including the Global Reporting Index and Innovation Standards, current legislation and accepted industry best practice.