Preview of 2019 Lake Macquarie Business Excellence Awards at Belmont 16s on July 12

PHOTOGRAPHER Melissa McLean has become quite adept at dancing while holding her Nikon camera in one hand, and an iPad screening the Wiggles in the other.

Sometimes that's what it takes to get her young subjects to look where she wants them to.

"It's just what I do to try and get that perfect photo for mum and dad," Ms McLean, 22, of Cooranbong, said.

Photographing newborns is a lot easier.

"It's photographing the older siblings that can be a challenge," she said.

Not that she's complaining. She loves what she does.

So much so that in 2017 she took the plunge and decided to turn her love of babies and photography into a business, Melissa McLean Photography.

This week, Ms McLean was named a finalist in the 2019 Lake Macquarie Business Excellence Awards.

She is among four finalists in the Outstanding Young Entrepreneur (18-30 years) category. And she's nervous.

"This is one of the first awards I've entered and it's a bit nerve racking," she said.

But Ms McLean has quickly learned that making a business work sometimes demands moving outside of a comfort zone.

"I'm married now, so making the decision to start the business was a risk for my whole family," she said.

"Running a business is actually quite hard. There are bumps and barriers and hurdles."

She does have one key piece of advice, though.

"My main tip for people starting out is not to focus on other people's businesses."

Looking at another established business's achievements, experience, and methods will only cause self-doubt, she said.

Melissa McLean photographing a family in her Cooranbong studio. Picture: Supplied

Melissa McLean photographing a family in her Cooranbong studio. Picture: Supplied

Instead, she recommends a daily mantra.

"Just remember that you're unique, and you're passionate, and remind yourself of that every day," she said.

Ms McLean is among almost 50 finalists across 14 categories vying for top honours at the awards.

Winners will be announced at a gala dinner function at Belmont 16s on Friday night.

Businesses from Gateshead and Charlestown are again well represented as finalists, but Ms McLean will be joined by several other businesses flying the flag for the Westlakes district.

They include Evergreen Energy Consultants, of Wangi Wangi; Remondis Lake Macquarie, of Awaba; Flowrite Air Conditioning and Electrical, of Toronto; Green Apples Finance Australia, of Rathmines; Toronto Private Hospital; and Lake Mac Holiday Parks, of Wangi Wangi.

Newsreader and journalist Natasha Beyersdorf will MC the awards presentation.

Lake Macquarie City Council assumed administration of the awards in March, taking over from the Business Growth Centre.

The 2019 awards are supported by Dantia, Service NSW and media partners - The Newcastle Herald and NEWFM and 2HD.

Tickets cost $120 each or $1000 for a table of 10, and include dinner, drinks and entertainment.

The finalists

LAKE Macquarie Business Excellence Awards 2019 finalists.-

Outstanding Young Employee (18-30 years)

(Category sponsor: Jodie Harrison MP. Prize sponsor: Lake Mac Holiday Parks)

  • Jessica Laing (Hunter Plastic Surgery)
  • Jess Kiely (A Growing Understanding)
  • Brenna Scifleet (KENT Conveyancing)

Outstanding Young Entrepreneur (18-30 years)

(Category sponsor: Dantia. Prize sponsor: Lake Mac Holiday Parks)

  • Jade Chislett (Just Like You Dolls)
  • Nick Maier (The Youth Academy)
  • Dominic May (CoastXP)
  • Melissa McLean (Melissa McLean Photography)

Outstanding Business Leader (31 years and over)

(Category sponsor: University of Newcastle. Prize sponsor: Hunter Headline)

  • Sarah Poissant (The Rainbow Clinic Pty Ltd)
  • Michelle Kent (KENT Conveyancing)
  • Simon Ashley (ATUNE Health Centres)
  • Joseph Mark Lorriman (Evergreen Energy Consultants)

Excellence in Social Enterprise

(Category sponsor: NewSure Insurance Brokers. Prize sponsor: Caves Coastal Bar and Bungalows)

  • Allambi Care Ltd
  • Just Like You Dolls
  • The Place: Charlestown Community Centre

Start Up Superstar

(Category and prize sponsor: Newcastle Herald)

  • Dynamic Health Australia T/a Sleep Dynamics
  • One Community
  • Jessica Byrnes
  • Empowered Community Services
  • Integrated Environmental Management Australia Pty Ltd

Excellence in Innovation

(Category and prize sponsor: Event Cinemas)

  • Ampcontrol Ltd
  • Design Anthology

Excellence in Sustainability

(Category and prize sponsor: Little Ruby)

  • Club Charlestown
  • Anglican Care
  • Downer EDI Works Pty Ltd
  • REMONDIS Lake Macquarie

Excellence in Micro Business (less than 5 employees)

(Category Sponsor: Service NSW. Prize sponsor: Lake Mac Print)

  • Flowrite Air Conditioning and Electrical
  • The Youth Academy
  • Evergreen Energy Consultants
  • Warners Bay Florist

Excellence in Small Business (5-20 employees)

Category Sponsor: Service NSW. Prize sponsor: Silveradoh Promotional Products)

  • Green Apples Finance Australia
  • Unity Kitchens
  • Cardiff Veterinary Hospital
  • Design Anthology

Excellence in Business (21 or more employees)

(Category sponsor: Service NSW. Prize sponsor: Newism)

  • Caves Coastal Bar & Bungalows
  • My Goal Australia
  • ATUNE Health Centres

Outstanding Employer of Choice

Toronto Private Hospital is a finalist in the Outstanding Employer of Choice category. Picture: David Stewart

Toronto Private Hospital is a finalist in the Outstanding Employer of Choice category. Picture: David Stewart

(Category and prize sponsor: Hunter Headline)

  • Toronto Private Hospital
  • A Growing Understanding Pty Ltd
  • Catalyst Project Consulting
  • KENT Conveyancing

Excellence in Export

(Category Sponsor: Export Market Resource Group. Prize sponsor: Event Cinemas)

  • R&R Murphy Pty Ltd

Excellence in Retail, Hospitality and Tourism

(Category and prize sponsor: oOh!media)

  • Caves Coastal Bar and Bungalows
  • Club Charlestown
  • Lake Mac Holiday Parks

Contribution to the City

(Category sponsor: Dantia. Prize sponsor: Event Cinemas)

  • Anglican Care
  • Green Capital Aust Pty Ltd
  • Cardiff Veterinary Hospital
  • Allambi Care Ltd.

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