Supporting young people in achieving their business goals has always held a special place in my heart. That's why, for the past four years, I've had the pleasure of being involved as both a nominee and sponsor of Business News Australia's Young Entrepreneur Awards.
This year, Yellowpanda Agency is excited to be on board as the official PR partner for the 2021 awards and I'm proud to announce we've spearheaded a new ambassador program to help generate greater awareness about the awards and encourage more young entrepreneurs to nominate.
Ambassador programs have a great and long history of adding an influential human element to a business. The most effective ambassadors are those who act as mini-spokespeople to spread positive messages and influence a wide spectrum of society.
These programs also act as a great platform for ambassadors to support causes they believe in and gain a little 'bonus time' in the eyes of a community that holds shared values.
However, finding the right ambassadors to support your cause isn't always easy. You want to avoid those who are inauthentic and may be in it for the wrong reasons as people can sense when someone isn't being sincere - especially over social media - and this may end up backfiring.
For instance, influencers who promote or share a product or service they share no genuine interest in can actually do more harm to your brand than good. That's why it's imperative you do thorough research and find ambassadors who genuinely enjoy what you offer and share common values with your company.
In terms of the Young Entrepreneur Awards, bringing together a group of like-minded, passionate and trusted authorities creates an opportunity to inspire other brilliant business minds. Not only are Business News Australia's inaugural group of Ambassadors authorities in their fields, but they are also past finalists or winners of the awards.
As any of our young entrepreneurs will tell you, success in business doesn't come easy, and if you want to reap the rewards you need to be prepared to put in the hard work and cop some criticism along the way.
In offering advice to emerging entrepreneurs, FIN-PAY managing director and founder Ian Parke says you need to learn from your mistakes and work as quickly as you can, ensuring you stay on the front foot of ever changing industry trends.
"One challenge I faced in the past was being taken seriously as a business owner at a young age," said Ian, who took out the Start-up category in the 2020 Brisbane Young Entrepreneur Awards.
Established in 2019, in just two years Ian has helped grow FINPAY from a team of one to 57. The company operates in nine countries and partners with some of the largest fin-tech businesses in the world.
On the topic of scaling, Ian said "it's important to keep your finger on the pulse to stay on top of the bell curve to remain front of mind".
Lelde Smits, who co-founded investor and media relations agency The Capital Network with Julia Maguire, is motivated by bringing value to the lives of others.
"Rather than looking at "how to build a big business" we asked "how can we be of the greatest service to our community"," says Lelde, who along with Maguire won the Sydney Young Entrepreneur Award - PR & Media in 2020, as well as the initiative's finance category award in 2018.
"When there is service there is value, and as a result of our value-driven purpose and mission to empower others from the onset, we have been rewarded by loyal customers and industry recognition that continues to grow."
This year Lelde has been appointed as a director of the Australian Shareholders' Association and she also supports the organisation Women on Boards, allowing her to empower other women to pursue leadership roles in our community.
Lelde says the recognition from Business News Australia in 2018 was a real "game changer" for both Maguire and her as professionals, as well as The Capital Network.
"Not only were we personally inspired by the entrepreneurship around us which fuelled us to grow our business even further, but we were named as Australia's Top 100 Young Entrepreneurs and subsequently attracted clients on a global stage," she says.
"We've seen firsthand the impact acknowledgment can have on a young entrepreneurs' spirit, especially when times get tough, and I would highly recommend all entrepreneurs to get involved in this year's awards to fuel their entrepreneurial journey."
Another inspiring young entrepreneur joining the inaugural ambassadors program is Emille Mendoza - the founder and CEO of Melbourne-based Boracay Skin.
Beginning her journey with a business degree but with no funding or connections, Emille says she built her company into a seven-figure business by showing up online.
"One of our biggest highlights was getting our products into Urban Outfitters in the USA just a few months after we launched." she said.
"The buyer found us through our instagram and this was in 2015 and we didn't have a lot of followers back then."
Emille said her advice for young entrepreneurs hoping to get their big break is to always put their best foot forward online, and always show up.
On the topic of showing up online and in the media, Nic Blair - the co-founder and director of Midnight Health and the 2019 Marketing & PR Entrepreneur of the Year (in Brisbane and nationally) is also lending his platform to help inspire young entrepreneurship as an official ambassador.
In speaking with Nic, he credits his involvement in, and recognition from taking out the the awards as one of the biggest accomplishments of his career.
"Entrepreneurship, especially every big success is commonly glamourised by the media, but you often don't see all the work that goes on behind the scenes," he said.
"The Awards allow entrepreneurs to be recognised for the hard work that goes on behind the scenes something that can be overlooked."
A fellow entrepreneur who understands what it takes to build a sustainable business from scratch is Michael Huxley of the Huxley School of Makeup.
Michael said that even after almost 10 years in business (a milestone he'll be celebrating this November), you still face challenges but you'll just get better at managing them.
"I remember a time when people would say I would be lucky to last five years in business." he said.
"For young entrepreneurs, It's bad enough living with your own inner critic without the opinions of others weighing you down. You need to trust in the process when scaling a business and know that you're on track, even if you feel like you're not progressing fast enough."
Fast forward to today, The Huxley School of Makeup is ranked as one of the top 10 Best Make-Up Schools in the World on Google.
Encouraging emerging entrepreneurs to nominate for the Young Entrepreneur Awards will allow their sacrifices to be recognised and their successes to be celebrated.
We're proud to have rounded up this exceptional group of Ambassadors who will help grow the 2021 Award to heights we haven't witnessed yet.
I for one am excited to see the great talent Business News Australia will uncover this year, and I look forward to following their journeys, as I have the previous winners and finalists who are profiled above.
List of Business News Australia's 2021 Ambassadors
- Tanya Abbey
- Nic Blair
- Ben Bradshaw
- Karl Brown
- Genevieve Day
- Carlos Ferri
- Michael Huxley
- Tom Lawrence
- Emille Mendoza
- Ian Parke
- Leigh Rust
- Kane Sajdak
- Lelde Smits
- Renee Tocco
- Ryan Tuckwood
- Amanda Williams
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