Today, whilst browsing in Incognito Mode, I noticed that we are number 1 in Google for the keyword search term ‘Business Coach’ – ahead of all the other Business Coaching organisations in New Zealand. Now we just need to work on our other key search terms such as Business Coaching, Business Mentoring and Marketing Strategies.
Good to see that we are walking the talk as Business Coaches specialising in Digital Strategies!
From Stuff – 19/04/14 – An article about one of our clients – Heart Saver – http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/small-business/9958015/A-life-saving-business
“Working with our super business coach Debra Chantry has been instrumental in helping us fill the knowledge gaps and target the areas of our business that require focus.”
Defibrillator supplier Heart Saver launched on April Fools day but the market it services is certainly no joke.
Started by Mike Mander and his wife Helen two years ago Heart Saver supplied Automated External Defibrillator (AEDs), first aid training and community education throughout New Zealand.
After being made redundant from his senior sales position in the finance sector, Mander, decided to enter a niche market where he saw a demand.
With 20 years experience as a volunteer firefighter Mander had witnessed the consequences of not having AEDs at hand.
The goal in setting up the business was to make AEDs more affordable and therefore more accessible to more New Zealanders, he said.
Heart Saver now have more than 600 clients who either leased or outright bought AEDs starting from $1895 plus GST to $2995 plus GST depending on the model.
Why did you start your own business?
We had always talked about wanting to use our combined experience to start a business together, and felt there was a real niche in the market for a specialist AED company. We also wanted to build something from scratch that we could be really proud of and passionate about.
What have been the biggest obstacles in starting up your business?
Launching the business during a recession was always going to be a big ask. There is also no legal requirement for companies to invest in AEDs, so it was tough trying to sell a product that was often seen as a nice to have as opposed to a need to a must have item.
Name one thing you’ve learnt in your business journey so far and from who?
Listen to the advice of others, learn from their experiences and don’t be single minded. Working with our super business coach Debra Chantry has been instrumental in helping us fill the knowledge gaps and target the areas of our business that require focus.
What are your business and personal goals?
Business goals are to continue to build a profitable but socially responsible company which represents great products and services that make a difference to Kiwi’s. Personal goals are to ensure a successful work life balance
Do you have any tips for budding entrepreneurs?
If you have a product or service you are passionate about, stop talking about it and get on with it.
What have you sacrificed to be an entrepreneur?
We started this business with no Plan B. I had been made redundant and Helen was a stay at home mum so there was no other form of income. I guess we sacrificed the security of a weekly wage – and time.
What would you do if you weren’t running your own business?
Looking for the next opportunity to run our own business.
What has been your biggest disappointment since you started on your journey of establishing your business?
No disappointments, just challenges.
Where is your favourite place to relax?
At home with the kids, or camping in places with no cell phone coverage.
“Business mentor Debra Chantry talks to Ray Schofield about her love for helping businesses and some of the common issues faced by her clients.”
I had been aware of Business Mentors New Zealand for quite some time, having read about them and seen the TV ads. I always though that it was something that I should do. When the company I worked for started getting involved with Business Mentors, I decided it was about time I stopped thinking about it and started taking some action. I love New Zealand and am passionate about helping companies grow. I’m hoping that through this role I can make it easier for business owners to succeed and continue taking our country forward.
These are the words of new business mentor, Debra Chantry, who heads up the Marketing and Online / Interactive reams at TOWER Insurance and, among many other positions is a member of the Institute of Directors and an advisory board member at Generator.
Debra became a mentor around nine months ago and has mainly been assisting business owners who want to move from being sole operators into the next growth phase, which includes strategising for growth and employing new staff. Her broad professional background, which includes roles in large corporate organisations as well as running her own business, means she is a valuable asset to any up and coming entrepreneur.
Even though she is a fairly recent addition to the Business Mentors team, Debra is already enjoying getting stuck into her mentoring role.
“I have loved the experience so far,” says Debra. “It has been an absolute joy. I have had three clients and I’m still assisting two of them. We work very closely and meet once or twice per month. Both of them have grown substantially and business thinking has been revitalised which is wonderful to see. It feels good to be doing something positive for New Zealand.”
Debra has noticed some common issues among the small businesses that she has mentored. She explains that a lot of the business owners are passionate about their companies and what they do but are simply missing certain vital skill sets.
“Some have only very basic accounting skills and are unsure of which systems and processes to have in place,” says Debra. “Others want to grow but don’t know how and many are lacking direction. In those cases we help them develop a strategy or a roadmap to help them achieve their objectives.”
“Our first meeting is when all of this is established,” adds Debra. “We take the time to get to know the clients and to ascertain what they want out of business mentoring and why. It’s not always about growth so it’s important to understand the business owner, their motivation and goals. Then you can start identifying gaps and helping them get to where they want to be.”
What it takes
According to Debra, mentoring is ideal for experienced business people who enjoying helping others and who get satisfaction out of assisting small businesses to grow.
However, there are particular personalities that are better suited to mentoring than others.
“To be an effective mentor, you need to have excellent listening skills and be able to understand and empathise with the client,” explains Debra. “You should also remember that it isn’t the mentors job to do everything, you must encourage people to think for themselves. The mentor won’t be there forever so the business owner must be able to carry on the good work long after the partnership has ended. Mentoring is an encouraging role. We encourage people into action.”
Business Mentors New Zealand has more than 1700 very knowledgeable mentors, all of whom are willing to share their skills, expertise and experience with small and medium sized business owners.
Business Mentors New Zealand is funded largely by patrons from the private sector, with additional support from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. It provides a mentoring service to businesses that have been operating for at least six months and is the owner’s main source of income.
Confidence is one reason there are not as many women as men on boards, says Debra Chantry, an aspiring board member currently studying to become an accredited director… Click on the link below to read the full article scanned from the Management Magazine… or read the plain text below.
Confidence is one reason there are not as many women as men on boards, says Debra Chantry, an aspiring board member currently studying to become an accredited director.
“Men are always so confident in their own abilities,” she says. She came to our meeting straight from two days of directors’ courses where around a third of the attendees were women.
“The men looked very comfortable but the women were saying, ‘I’m not sure if I’m ready to do this’. But I believe those women were no less qualified nor experienced than the men there.”
Chantry, 39, says the courses were attended by a wide range of people, from chairmen and existing directors to accountants, lawyers, farmers and members of not-for-profits, trusts and school boards.
She says she’s aiming to become an accredited member of the Institute of Directors, which will mean apart from a written exam, she needs to undergo a rigorous selection process and have five years’ experience on the board of a significant company.
“I don’t have to be an accredited director, but by doing the courses and accreditation, you get a full understanding of the legislation, how a board should run and what your responsibilities are. In theory, that should give companies a lot more faith in your abilities.”
Chantry’s current role is in marketing for Tower Insurance, but in the past she was one of the youngest general managers in the country, at InterCity, and she’s been the CEO of a software development company. She also ran her own company for a couple of years until the business was forced to close when a key contract fell through.
“It was the worst experience of my life,” says Chantry frankly. “But then I realised I could bring learnings from that to other businesses, so I became a consultant, helping other people avoid the pitfalls.” She still volunteers as a business mentor for start-ups.
“I was considering being on a board when I was doing a lot of consulting work, but it is a time commitment, and it was about being able to find that time. Also, I’m not sure I fully understood the responsibilities of being a Director. It makes you feel good when you are asked, but you do need to consider the full implications.”
She says the catalyst was having lunch with a friend who was already on a board. “And I was very inspired by our chairman of the board of directors at Word Dial, John Signal. He was a great mentor to me.”
She signed up as Trustee of the Life Education Trust, Auckland Central in September 2006 as a first step and a chance to get some board experience in a not for profit organisation.
Chantry says there are two ways of getting onto a board: if you know someone (“the old-boys’ network”), or through the Institute of Directors, by doing the training and networking with existing directors. Being quite new to the world of governance, she has chosen the second route.
As a director, she sees her role as not just getting a return to shareholders. “The return to shareholders should be a given, so you should take that off the table and look at what you need to make a company sustainably competitive and build a profitable business.”
She says her sales and marketing experience would be useful in some retail businesses, where she can look at companies as a customer would, as well as from a legal or financial perspective.
“A lot of boards are made up of accountants, lawyers and engineers. They have great skills, but a balanced board would provide a better business model.”
Chantry is in favour of more women on boards in New Zealand, but is unsure about enforcing a quota. “I would always wonder if I got my role because of my skills or because of my gender.
“And currently there is just not a big pool of people to pick from. We should be encouraging women to join the institute and get networking. Women have a tendency to undervalue themselves.”
Ultimately it’s not just about having women on boards, it’s about having diversity on boards, she believes.
“You should have men and women, accountants and lawyers, industry specialists, differing ethnicities. You just need the right people to offer value to a board.”
Small or medium-sized companies in New Zealand should consider creating an advisory board.
Advisory boards provide non- binding strategic advice to organisations, unlike the board of directors appointed under the Companies Act. They are informal in nature and therefore have greater flexibility in how they are set up and managed. They can be created to deal with a specific matter or can be ongoing.
The main board is responsible for company performance and conformance with legal and regulatory requirements. Directors can be held legally liable for not fulfilling these duties. Advisory boards, on the other hand, are informal. Their role is not defined in the Companies Act and therefore members owe no fiduciary duties to the company or shareholders.
Roles will vary between companies but generally relate to providing objective advice on strategic aims. They have no authority to act on behalf of the company.
Roles and responsibilities
Each company will determine the roles and responsibilities of its advisory board to suit their own circumstances and needs. These should be formalised in a charter, which is in turn ratified by the main board.
Because there is no legal definition for advisory boards, the company can structure this board in the most appropriate fashion.
Companies must be clear on the purpose of the advisory board and what it hopes the board will achieve. This will help determine the skills, knowledge and experience needed and assist in the selection of members of the advisory board. A clearly defined purpose will contribute to the success of the advisory board.
Advisory boards are generally created to focus on the big picture – strategic issues and industry and market trends.
Their principal roles are to provide objective advice and contribute to strategic planning.
Good advisers can give fresh insights and thinking on emerging or unfamiliar issues, respond to ideas from management, play devil’s advocate and supply high- quality objective advice to support the main board’s decision-making.
Many advisers are selected because of their contacts and their ability to facilitate introductions to potential suppliers, customers, and so forth.
The directors of a company’s ‘main board’ owe duties of good faith and care to the company and can be liable if they fail to meet this obligation.
Technically, advisory board members do not owe these duties. However, caution should still be exercised.
Without clear lines of demarcation between the roles of the advisory and main board, there may be circumstances where a court might think that the main board relies on the advice of the advisory board without giving it due analysis and consideration, particularly if there is a negative outcome for the owners of the company.
This may lead to accusations that the advisory board members are acting as shadow or de facto directors. A de facto director is a person who is not actually appointed as a director but acts as if he or she were (often incorrectly believing that he or she has been properly appointed as a director).
A shadow director is also not appointed as a director but is a person on whose instructions or wishes a company’s board members are accustomed to act. These are understandably complex areas which advisory boards wish to avoid.
Creating a formal charter outlining duties and responsibilities of the advisory board will help to properly distinguish its role from that of the ‘main board’. This minimises the chances of liability for advisory board members.
The charter should include statements about the advisory board members not being appointed directors and having no authority to act on behalf of the company or to make decisions. The charter should also clearly state that the advice given is non- binding.
Directors on the main board are still expected to discuss, debate and decide on a course of action themselves, having considered the advice of the advisory board.
This charter should be ratified by the main board.
Advisory board members should attend main board meetings only when presenting their advice. They should not be present for the board’s decision making.
To protect the company, the advisory board members should be acting in the best interests of the company and not for personal gain. Their agreement with the company should include a condition requiring disclosure of potential conflicts of interest. They will also be privy to sensitive company information, so signing a confidentiality agreement should be considered too.
These matters can be captured in a letter of appointment.
The ultimate aim of having an advisory board is value creation.
If the advisory board is not creating value, then reconsider who sits on it or whether having one is the best means of achieving the purpose.
An advisory board adds value when there is an appropriate mix of people and there is open, frank and free-flowing discussion.
Henri Eliot is chief executive of Board Dynamics, a consultancy which provides strategic advice to directors and boards.