Celebrating Australia’s Amazing Small Businesses

In the Australian small business world, there is one name that consistently stands out – and that’s Steve Loe.

The Managing Director of event management company, Precedent Productions, Steve has championed Australia’s small businesses for decades – creating the Australian Small Business Champion Awards in 1999.

Australias premier awards recognition program for small business. it is the only nationally recognized awards program that has changed the lives of thousands of Australian businesses over its 24-year tenure.

Steve Loe is a humble and unassuming man who has had an enormous positive effect on Australia’s small businesses.

Friend and colleague, Andrew Crawford, describes him as “a genuine and authentic man of great insight and passion for the SME sector in Australia”.

“His passion and excitement for the Small Business Champions awards program is evident as is his vision for recognition of best practice in what is the engine room of the Australian economy. An exciting and creative person to know and work with.”

“It’s humbling to hear those words,” Steve said.

“I think though, it’s about having the time for anyone and everyone. Along the way I’ve had the pleasure of mentoring a lot of young entrepreneurs and business owners. Fostering those relationships has not only benefited me professionally, but personally as well.

“The world moves at an incredibly fast pace, and I believe we sometimes forget to stop and foster real relationships.”

Awards growing at rapid rate

From its early days, the awards program has grown at a rapid rate, held across three dedicated spectacular nights throughout the year, attracting well over 3000 guests and 150 winners.

“The program started as the ‘Champion of Champions,’ modelled from the European football premier league!” Steve said.

“We offered the winners from our local Small Business Award program, which spanned 20 LGAs of Sydney at the time, an opportunity to compete in the awards. The first event welcomed 2000 people.

“It ultimately developed further, and we opened it up to further businesses. At this point it was still based in NSW, but it wasn’t long before the program expanded nationally.

“We’re so proud of the growth and continued interest we see annually. Its growth, after all, is the real reason the awards were created. To highlight outstanding businesses who tirelessly produce and create exceptional products and services; to recognize and reward Australia’s small business community.”

Family roots

A peak at Steve’s credentials reveals an amazing input into a wide range of industries. Clearly, he has drive and determination in bucketloads! But where did it come from?

“For me personally, it really comes from family roots. That’s where it began. Growing up with parents who owned a corner store – a fable of the past now, I learnt the meaning of the term work ethic, stacking fruits and vegetables, running grocery deliveries and operating the milk bar,”  he said.

“Serving customers from a very young age, I developed the confidence to talk to people and (learnt) the importance of creating good relationships. That really is a skill, and probably one of the most important tools in understanding people.

“In this space, I learnt what running a small business was all about. Opening 7am to 7pm, seven days a week. That was the nature of the business and my parents worked extremely hard and benefited greatly from doing so. They taught me from the ground up how to run a successful small business, and I’m forever grateful to them for that.

“It amazes me that my parents were uneducated and migrants, but truly had an insatiable level of passion, a gift for hard work, and love for their customers. I believe that was mirrored in me.”

Changing times

As you would expect, as the world of business has changed so, too, have the awards.

“We have seen moving trends with the program over time. When the Program originated in 1999, 95% of the categories and involved businesses were retail,” Steve said.

“Over the years, the category style and interest has changed; we have more service businesses, professional services, medical, legal, or trades, for example. We’ve opened up over the years to give a huge breadth of opportunity for recognition.

“Of course, this year in 2022, we’ve seen huge changes, with the doubling of categories spread across two huge nights. It’s the biggest celebration of small business in Australia.

“We are also proud to announce the inclusion of a dedicated women’s program with a Gala Presentation Evening on the 12 November. The need was there, community members were reaching out to us and asking for these inclusions, and we are looking forward to seeing the programs grow.”

You’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger advocate than Steve for the small business sector – but why is this recognition so important?

Saying thank you

“Generally, as small businesses, we’re all working hard day and night; we’re never stopped and thanked for what we do. This is an opportunity to really recognize and say thank you for the devotion to family and devotion to community.

“I always love this story: a young woman was rolling up her store door one early morning. A gentlemen walked past and saw her lifting it high above her head. He had seen this each day as he made his way to work, but never thought much of it, nor of her role in servicing those in this small suburban community. He decided to approach the old woman, and simply said ‘thank you. Thank you for everything that you do’. He mentioned that he was the first to call out when something goes wrong, but never quick to say thank you when something goes right. And with that, the gentlemen went on his way.

“I like this because it’s still true today. We are quick to scowl but hardly forthcoming to share gratitude with those who improve our daily endeavors. We celebrate those moments at the Champion Awards.”

Self-critique is a powerful tool

Steve describes that ‘celebration’ as the biggest benefit of running the awards.

“There’s no other forum that really says to our small business community, “hey, well done, you’re truly doing amazing things”. It’s vital that we lift up our small business owners, because they really are the heart and soul of communities. This is an opportunity to see the results of your efforts, and any potential holes in your business model.

“Whilst we congratulate all finalists and winners, the real benefit of this program is what can be learnt from using your own microscope to enhance performance – self-critique is a powerful tool.

“The night itself also provides networking opportunities and brings together the best of Australia’s small business owners and colleagues, sharing ideas, catching up with associates and suppliers, and the motivation to keep striving.

“It really is a first-class evening, a reason to dress up, and celebrate your hard work and always something to be proud of.”

Strong foundations

Steve has also been a driving force behind the success of a wide range of industries, including the Australian Garden Industry Association, Australian Video Industry Association, NSW Hardware Industry Association. NSW Fish Merchants Association, NSW Police Service, and Child Care New South Wales – to name just a few!

Describing his own enterprise, Precedent Productions, as a small business, he pays tribute to the people around him.

“I have some incredible people around me, and without that strong foundation, we would not be able to achieve what we do. My team is just as passionate about our goals as I am, and that means we walk in tandem through the highs and the lows,” he said.

So, what message would he leave with our readers?

“I encourage everyone who is reading this to stop and share a genuine moment of gratitude when you next visit your local butcher, or baker or newsagent, your favorite curry house, or florist or physio.

“We all wake up each morning with a mission to do something great. Sometimes, it’s nice to get that pat on the back for our efforts.”


For more information:
Australian Small Business Champion Awards, visit www.businesschampions.com.au,
Australian Women’s Small Business Champion Awards, visit www.womensbusinesschampions.com.au
or email [email protected]

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