Gigabit Town Judging

Gigatown competition driven by chorus

Last week I was I was asked to judge the videos for the Gigabit town competition on behalf of The Icehouse. (Where I’s a Business Coach & Executive in Residence)

What is Gigatown?

Its a competition run by Chorus where businesses and towns compete to become a ‘Gigatown’.

To quote their website (www.gigatown.co.nz):

Gigatown can be the most connected, gig-savvy town in the Southern hemisphere with access to a one gigabit per second (1Gbps) internet connection.

How do we decide who gets to be Gigatown? Actually, we don’t decide – you do.

We’re looking for the town that wants it the most. There are two ways we’ll be measuring that drive, enthusiasm and determination to be Gigatown:

1. by listening out for the town with the loudest voice on social media; and

2. by tallying up the supporters for each
town signing up on this website.

The  final entries were selected & then passed to us for final judging.

It was a great experience – I learnt a lot about some of our fantastic New Zealand Businesses bur also a lot about some of our more rural towns.

I can’t tell you who our favourites were…. but watch this space.

 

Written by Debra Chantry – Business Coach | Principal

 

 

Wendyl Nissen – Charging forward

Wendyls - Business Coaching | Business Strategy | Business Planning | The Icehouse | Debra Chantry

It has been my absolute pleasure to work as a Business Coach for Wendyl Nissen & Daniel Ellison of Wendyl’s through The Icehouse. Wendyl & Dan have an amazing philosophy to help people live a healthy eco life and you won’t find people more passionate about it!

They started their business a few years ago and as Wendyl puts it, “tended to organically grow from one crisis to the other.”

We’ve spent the last few months business coaching, undertaking strategic analysis and planning to understand where Wendyl & Dan want to take the business and then what they and the business needs to do to achieve that goal.

It’s been an interesting journey and we’re not there yet… but it’s great to see Wendyl’s charging forward 🙂

Debra Chantry – Business Coach & EiR at The icehouse.

For the original article – click here – http://www.theicehouse.co.nz/wendyl-nissen-and-the-icehouse-part-2-moving-forward/

Wendyl Nissen and The Icehouse Part 2: Charging Forward

Written by Wendyl Nissen
At Wendyl’s we’ve been very busy implementing the first part of our business plan. We are six months into our work with The Icehouse and we have successfully re-branded. We have changed from Wendyl’s Green Goddess to simply Wendyl’s and we have a much more simple, easy to navigate website – check it out at www.wendyls.co.nz. And most importantly we have changed the design of all our labels to take them from their heritage, brown paper, Whole Earth look to a more colourful, simple, younger look.Our all-natural cleaning and beauty products now look capable of growing into a bigger, younger market and finally have a website to support it. Yet we have still retained the essence of our brand which is honesty and trust. We have added the tagline to all our products which says: “Handmade by us, for you, since 2009, Wendyl and Daniel.” And we still provide the recipe for all our products- the only difference is they are now on the website rather than on the label!My son Daniel and I would not have had the confidence to do this monumental change if it hadn’t been for our Icehouse mentor Debra Chantry who has met with us every two weeks and gently pushed us to meet our own deadlines which we would have stretched had it been up to us. She also encouraged us to take some risks (getting a bank loan to do the re-brand). But most importantly she was there to listen when we said: “This is all too much, it’s doing our head in!”Because the thing about changing your business for the better is that a) it is hard relentless work and b) it is just plain scary.So Debra’s role expanded ever so subtly from giver of information, common sense and advice, to supportive social worker, giving me and Daniel much needed hugs and pats on the back when we were lacking confidence.
We look forward to our fortnightly meetings with Debra because she can help us see ourselves from the outside when we are so involved with the inside day to day workings. We’re not business analysts and have tended to organically grow from one crisis to the other. Now we have data to analyse and can see trends and good news on the horizon.Now, we need to take our new look and find the new customers it was intended for.We know we have a secure, loyal customer base in my age group which is women 40 and older. Now we need to target customers in the younger age group of 18-30 to which my son Daniel belongs.These are the young professionals who care more about the environment than any other generation before them. They don’t mind paying a bit extra for a product which is trusted and will help the planet. They regard the extra expense as something they should pay for as responsible citizens.

So now, with Debra’s help, we’ll be hiring a marketing coach.

New Offices – June 2014

On 1st May (or thereabouts) we moved into our new offices in Newmarket.

We’ve been so busy with client work that getting ourselves organised took a bit of of a back-burner, but we finally got our stuff sorted and the new signage got installed this week – yay!

We had our new staff induction day (Marketing Coaches, Digital Marketing Strategists & Marketing Assistants) yesterday & I look forward to introducing you to the new team members over the next few weeks, as they find their feet and settle in 🙂

Pricing for owner-managed businesses

Debra Chantry - Principal | Business Coach

I was recently contacted, through The Icehouse where I work as an Executive in Residence & Business Coach, to answer some questions for www.stuff.co.nz on pricing for start-ups.

Here are the questions that I was asked and my full answers.

Written by Debra Chantry, Principal | Business Coach.

 

1.     Is there a temptation to price too low? What are the risks of just trying to undercut competition?

There is always a temptation to price too low, particularly when you’re a start-up and you think that the only way you can grab market share is to make it cheaper for people.

This is particularly evident in the service sector, where people look at ‘big company’ prices and realise that they can charge a lot less than big companies because they don’t have the overheads.

Pricing is always a short-term strategy & one of 2 things will happen over time. You will become a larger company and will start to encompass some of these overheads, which means that you can no longer sustain the lower prices, or someone with bigger pockets will drop their prices to match or beat yours… and no-one wins in this situation.

The reality is that if you have established a real ‘pain point’ and / or a ‘unique value proposition’ then customers will not choose you on price alone. They will come to you because you offer them something that they need or want and they will be prepared to pay for value.

The same applies for products & services.

2.     Is there a temptation to price to overvalue services in the hope of making big returns?

Not generally.

What I do find is that people underestimate the costs of running a company in general. Often people miss out on the basic costs or don’t think to the future when the company grows and what additional costs that is likely to bring. As a consequence they tend to undervalue their products & services and price too low.

I also find that Kiwis, and particularly female entrepreneurs tend to undervalue their own time & experience. We work with many companies where we take them through an exercise to understand what value they truly offer and it almost always results in increasing prices.

That said, there are cases where people have over-valued their product or service and often a change in price will create significant increase in demand, that substantially affects the profitability of a company. This can work both with a price increase and a price decrease if the pricing is wrong. It’s about getting the right balance and understanding what value you offer, what margin it can support and the competitive nature of the industry that you are working within.

3.     How do you accurately value your skills and services to meet the market when you’re starting out, so you don’t have to make big adjustments later.

We encourage every start-up to do an analysis of the competitive environment. This would include things such as pricing, features & benefits, positioning, quality, selection, service, reliability etc.

From here we work with frameworks that help you map out the environment and see where your niche is and what value is to the customer, and therefore what margins it can support.

Once a company has established their niche and their value, then pricing becomes an easier task.

4.     How common a problem is it for start-ups to get the pricing wrong – and what are the implications of getting it wrong

It is very common for start-ups to get pricing wrong. The implications of this is that they may get stuck in a business where they are working long hours, are not reaping the rewards and can not afford to bring anyone else in to help them.

Additionally they risk losing customers when they put their prices up.

It does sometimes happen in reverse when the price has been too high and a small adjustment can significantly increase demand but in general I would say that it is easier to start higher and lower your prices than it is to put them up.

 

Written by Debra Chantry (Principal / Business Coach) for stuff.co.nz.

Keen – Lightning Lab Team of 2014

Yesterday I had the great pleasure of introducing the Keen (www.keen.to) team to a room over around 300 investors and people in the start-up / entrepreneurial business environment.

The event was held in the auditorium at Te Papa and was a sell out event.

Here I am introducing Laxman Popli keen.

Debra Chantry - Business Coach & Mentor - introducing Keen at Lightning Lab Demo Day 2014

And this is Laxman, wowing the audience:

Laxman

 

I prepared my speech at 5.30am yesterday morning and had around 5 hours to get it right – I wanted to be sure that I did the best job ever of introducing this amazing team.

At the last minute I realised it was too long and had to dramatically cut it back. And then I spent an hour or so in the Te Papa Cafe talking out loud, practising my speech, while people looked at me as if I were a mad woman 🙂

 

Here is the final speech that I gave:

 

My name is Debra Chantry & I am passionate about growing the New Zealand economy.

 I am a Business Coach, specialising in the start-up and owner managed business space.

 I help businesses to commercialise their ideas and take them to the next level.

 It is my great pleasure to be introducing you to the Keen team, whom I have worked with over the last 13 weeks.

 Laxman will paint the picture & tell you the business story but I would like to first tell you a little about the process that they have been through to get to where they are now & why I believe that they are worth investing in.

 It started it with an idea, that came from a real life problem.

 However, we all know that good ideas don’t always make great businesses.

 What Keen did do was follow sound market validation & business planning principles to validate, test & launch this idea.

 Their pain point has proven to be Urgent, Pervasive & Compelling enough to make people open their wallets & change their behaviour….

 They clearly defined their target market, identified the low hanging fruit and established the best channels to get this to market.

 Keen then launched a Minimum Viable Product & tested it with the marketplace. Their 2nd iteration, based on customer feedback is ready to launch.

 Keen’s vision is to use the online environment to help friends connect & have better experiences in the offline & real world.

 They have the passion, the drive, the skills & the ability to work effectively as a team to make this happen.

 They have been a pleasure to work with, remaining committed to that vision whilst being open to feedback.

 Developed from New Zealand for the world, I am very proud to introduce you to the Keen team representative – Laxman Popli.

 

And here was my original speech:

 

My name is Debra Chantry & I am passionate about growing the New Zealand economy, through helping Kiwi businesses grow profitably!

 I am a Business Coach, specialising in the start-up and owner managed business space, utilising the combined knowledge that comes from years of Corporate experience along with owning a number of my own companies.

 I help businesses to commercialise their ideas and take them to the next level of profitable growth, either through my own private coaching and consulting practice, Ventell, or through the Icehouse in Auckland and the Lightning Lab in Wellington.

 It is my great pleasure to be introducing you to the Keen team, whom I have worked with over the last 13 weeks.

 Laxman will paint the picture & tell you the business story but I would like to first tell you a little about the process that they have been through to get to where they are now & why I believe that they are worth investing in.

 It started it with an idea, that came from a real life problem – to use the online social environment to connect people into offline, real world experiences.

 However, we all know that good ideas don’t always make great businesses.

 What Keen did do was follow sound market validation & business planning principles to validate, test & launch this idea.

 Their pain point has proven to be Urgent, Pervasive & Compelling enough to make people open their wallets….

 They clearly defined their target market, both on the end consumer & business side, identified the low hanging fruit and established the best channels to get this to market.

 Keen then launched a Minimum Viable Product & tested it with the marketplace. Their 2nd iteration, based on customer feedback is ready to launch.

 Keen’s vision is to use the online environment to help people connect & have better experiences in the offline & real world. help the world spontaneously connect with friends locally in the online environment to allow them to have better offline, real-world experiences.

 They have the passion, the drive, the skills & the ability to work effectively as a team to make this happen. They have been a pleasure to work with, remaining committed to that vision whilst being open to feedback, both from end customers and their coaches.

 Developed from New Zealand for the world, I am very proud to introduce you to the Keen team representative – Laxman Popli.

 

And finally, here we are celebrating afterwards:

Debra Chantry - Business Coach & Mentor with Laxman, Nelson & Peter from keen.to at Lightning Lab Demo Day 2014

Grid/AKL Opening Event

Grid AKL Opening Event - 14th May 2014 | Ventell

It was great fun to attend the GRID/AKL opening event last night… And we were in good company…. Well mostly 🙂

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce was there as well as Len Brown… and a whole bunch of influential people from the Start Up / Entrepreneur community.

Mark & I made the front page of the newsletter that came out the next day!

Debra Chantry – Business Coach | Principal

7 reasons for an advisory board

7 great reasons to have an advisory board

The following article was sourced through Google and we think it succinctly gives you the main reasons to consider an Advisory Board.

We do however believe that Advisory Board Members should be paid a small fee to attend meetings, if they are more regular than twice per year. This forms a commitment to attend, and also to do the required research and reading before attending the meeting.

And although you should think of your Advisory Board Members as Mentors, if you want more regular mentoring sessions, you should take on a dedicated Business Mentor.

Advisory Boards: Seven Great Reasons to Have One

by Anita Campbell

Have you ever thought about setting up an Advisory Board?

It can be one of the best moves you make for your business. And it is easier than you think — costing little or nothing.

Here are seven great reasons to set one up today.

1. Expertise you can’t buy

Advisory Board members can bring skill sets that are totally out of reach for many small businesses.

Take the example of an Advisory Board for a small technology company. The Advisors are:

  • A finance manager with Fortune 500 experience
  • A retired CEO
  • The CTO of a midsized technology company
  • A university professor

Imagine what it would cost to hire this level of skill, experience, and knowledge. A carefully chosen Advisory Board can give you access to such people for a tiny fraction of that cost — or no cost. Most of the time, the only expense comes from convening meetings.

However, you don’t have to wait for a meeting. When you have an Advisory Board, good advice is just a phone call or email away.

2. Business contacts when you need them

Choose Advisory Board members with diverse backgrounds, and their Rolodexes will become one of your most valuable assets.

Looking for potential customers, sympathetic bankers, well-heeled investors, or even talented new employees? Sometimes a brief introduction by an Advisor is all it takes to open doors that you thought were closed — or that you never knew existed.

Advisory Board members are sincerely interested in your success. They want to introduce you to anyone they feel might help grow your business.

3. The benefits of a Board of Directors without the hassles

Some business owners think an Advisory Board is the same as a Board of Directors. Yet, the two are very different.

An Advisory Board is exactly what the name suggests: it is there simply to advise. This means you reap the benefits of your advisors, without all the formalities, intrusiveness and expense of a Board of Directors.

  • Advisory Board members have no formal authority or power within your company, unlike Directors.
  • An Advisory Board does not have the same legal responsibilities (fiduciary duties) as a Board of Directors. That means you won’t need to pay the high fees and provide Directors Insurance coverage to protect them from liability exposure.
  • You need not reveal your business’s most intimate financial details to Advisory Board members. Unlike with Directors, it’s your choice how much information to share with Advisors.
  • You need not observe legal formalities for meetings, such as voting, quorums, etc. With a Board of Directors, such legalities are mandatory.

4. Simple and inexpensive to set up and operate

Advisory Boards are relatively simple and inexpensive to set up.

They can be as informal as a breakfast meeting twice a year. Or they can be slightly more structured, with regular working meetings once a quarter complete with agendas. The level of formality and structure is up to you.

What are the costs? Most Advisory Boards serve for free. Business owners typically call upon friends and colleagues who are willing to help out — and flattered to be asked.

However, it is customary to reimburse Advisors for long distance travel or out-of-pocket expenses. At the very least, expect to foot the bill for complimentary breakfasts and lunches.

5. Grow your business faster

An Advisory Board is a great way to signal to the world your intent to grow your business. Few actions say as much about your commitment. Only companies that are serious about growth take the time and effort to organize an Advisory Board.

When assembling your Board, pick Advisors who can help you develop growth strategies. Individuals whose judgment you respect and who have strategic thinking ability are what you need on an Advisory Board.

6. A personal sounding board

Advisory Boards can serve as a sounding board for new ideas — or for solving weighty problems.

One of the best things about Advisory Board members is that they are willing, informed listeners. Sometimes, simply being able to talk to someone you trust is all it takes.

Your Advisors may well have dealt with the same issues in the past. They may be able to lead you to creative solutions so simple that you’ve overlooked them. They have probably “been there, done that.” You gain the benefit of their hard learned lessons without having to go through the same pain yourself.

7. Mentoring

Let’s face it: The top is a lonely place. Business owners often have few ways to get support and guidance.

Your employees expect you to have all the answers. But to whom do you turn when you need help with those answers?

That’s where an Advisory Board can make all the difference.

Think of your Advisors as mentors. Mentors help coach you to become a more effective leader. They inspire you to greater leadership heights through their own positive examples. They help you get through the tough times. They support and encourage.

Advisors can bring out the best in you.

So what are you waiting for? Get started on that Advisory Board!

About the Author:

Anita Campbell is a former senior Corporate executive and serial entrepreneur who has launched several small businesses. Want to get your business to the next level? Check out Anita’s Small Business Trends weblog.

Copyright © 2004, Anita Campbell All rights reserved.

Mentor (Business Coach) wants to help NZ businesses grow!

Read the full NZ Business article in pdf format

NZ Business Magazine – March 2011

“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.

For full article – please click here.

Why we need women & diversity on boards

Why we need women & diversity on boards…

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.

The aspiring director

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.”