I want to share some amazing and inspiring news. In May this year I received an email from Business Australia with details of the 2021 Sydney City Business Awards, held in partnership with the City of Sydney. I didn’t think much of it to begin with: another email, another herd-fought application, right?
I was on a high after my best professional quarter to date: the first lockdown had given me a chance to rebrand, recharge and reevaluate, create a spanking new website, and design fresh artwork. I’m an eternal optimist, but I was experiencing a new level of dedication and drive for Lion + Cub, and increased passion for what I do.
So, I gave it a go. The questions were targeted to small business excellence, asking about key milestones, business strategies for the future, and projected outcomes. There was a section on the unique selling point of my business – and how Lion + Cub is differentiated from other photography agencies – and as expected, a section on the impact of COVID-19.
Countless cups of coffee, late-night pizza deliveries, desperate forays into box wine and some 1658 words later I had some answers. I talked about how I had forged a strong collaboration with a fitness company, how I had diversified into tutoring, pivot points in the absence of face-to-face clients, and the strong relationships I have with other women in business.
Soon after the city was plunged into lockdown again, I found out I was a finalist in the microbusiness category! I reached out to congratulate the other finalists, and then grew my networks to include a truly impressive array of small businesses – lockdown is good for some things!
I won! I was awarded the Sydney City 2021 Business Award for excellence in microbusiness – I swapped box wine for bubbles and danced the night away… in a COVID-safe manner, with my family on a balcony overlooking Newtown’s ghost-like King Street. The following day, I took stock of what it all really meant.
Entering this award was an important way of taking stock of my business, reflecting on a difficult year and planning for the future despite that. The process forced me to focus and allowed me to really consider what the future could hold.
Winning has helped me feel validated in my process, my capability and my vision. It has helped me start future-proofing my business, allowed me to connect with similarly accredited small business owners and provided amazing PR and networking opportunities.
In an over-saturated market like photography, it is essential to build trust and position yourself as an expert, as well as offering excellent customer service and product quality. This award is industry evidence of Lion + Cub’s capacity to deliver on all its promises… and more. Lastly, in an age where comparisons are often made online, this award might help tip purchasing decisions in our favour, particularly if it is shiny!
As Lord Mayor Clover Moore says, these awards are a celebration of busines tenacity and determination in surviving an unprecedented two years. But for Lion + Cub, this validation stretches far into the future: this is about being recognised for the hard work and passion that’s been put in and is an acknowledgement of the determination that is required to succeed as a small business owner.
My sincere thanks go to the City of Sydney, Business NSW and each and every person I have collaborated with. It’s been a wild ride that looks set to ramp up in 2022.