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.”

 

Advisory boards can benefit small companies

Small or medium-sized companies in New Zealand should consider creating an advisory board.

Advisory Boards | Blue Skies Thinking | Business Strategy - Advisory boards for a flat monthly fee - no hidden costs.
We can make advisory boards cost effective!

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.

Legal liabilities

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. 

Source: http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/small-business/7753504/Advisory-boards-can-benefit-small-firms

Small business: Mentoring – Lufi Rasmussen and Icehouse

NZH - Business Coaching | Business Section

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: NZ Herald Business Section

Carollyn Chaplin - Business Coach | Icehouse | Lufi Rasmussen - Business Coaching Client | Debra Chantry - Business Coach | Icehouse

Lufi Rasmussen, owner of the Misiluki Day Spa in Apia, Samoa, is developing a luxury natural skincare range under her brand. She is being mentored by Carollyn Chaplin and Debra Chantry, who are executives in residence at the Icehouse.

The mentee: Lufi Rasmussen, Misiluki

Can you tell me a bit about your business?

I opened Misiluki Day Spa, a small business in Apia, Samoa, in 2008. Due to the size of the population in Samoa and the limited disposable income of locals and tourists Misiluki’s growth is limited. So I had the idea to develop a signature boutique luxury skincare business, which led me to ask: how can I showcase the uniqueness of Samoa through Misiluki on the world stage? I saw this as a new challenge in my career.

Why did you seek a mentor?

I had researched and developed my idea, product and brand on my own since 2009. Now I’m in the final stage of product and brand completion, I felt I needed to get unbiased feedback on what I had achieved to date, to see whether I was going in the right direction or not.

I found that when it comes to business and a project such as this, living in Samoa is very isolating. International business is new to me; I don’t have the knowledge and experience to be able to take my product to international markets and it was difficult for me to find a mentor in Samoa with international experience in retail I could connect with and who understand what I was trying to achieve. So I started searching outside of Samoa to New Zealand.

How did you find your mentors here?

I found the Icehouse on the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise website. I had previously been told about business incubators and read through the recommended list of incubators. I went though a few of the websites and found the Icehouse was the most relevant to my product and me. My husband, Michael, and I attended their Idea Validation Workshop in January and this confirmed we needed to team up with the Icehouse to move forward with sound advice. The Icehouse allowed me to select my mentors, Debra and Carollyn, and I am thoroughly impressed with their level of skills and experience. It’s important to me that I connect with them and vice versa.

How does the mentoring relationship work, particularly given you’re based in Samoa?

Due to the amount of work I have completed to date they have tailor-made a programme that will cover a three-month period. I have committed to being in New Zealand once a month for one-on-one meetings at the Icehouse and other communication will be via skype, emails and phone calls. My mentors have set me tasks that cover research on target market, competitors, costing and distribution channels, as well as short and long-term goal setting. I definitely have my work cut out for me.

How is this process helping your business?

As an entrepreneur you are so connected to your dream project. What you need is an external party that has no connection with you or your project to provide positive criticism as to whether you’re facing a red light – that you should stop the project because it won’t work – or, fingers crossed, that you’ve got a green light – that they can see where your product will sit in the market and that it has potential to do well if you work with them. So far, this process has helped validate what I have done and to know I am on the right path.

What advice would you have for other small business owners looking to take on a mentor?

It is important you connect with your mentor and have fun with them. It is about learning from this person who has a wealth of knowledge and experience and about your own self-development. From this perspective you can’t go wrong.

The mentors: Carollyn Chaplin and Debra Chantry, executives in residence at the Icehouse

What needs did you see in Lufi’s business that you could help meet?

Lufi has done some excellent thinking around her vision and brand that now needs to be translated into a business proposition. We will help her build the structure and its foundations and provide her with the guidance to explore her market and develop the commercial model.

In our first session we were able to take the research and thinking she had undertaken to date and put it into a framework to enable the robust building of the business strategy.

What insights have you yourself been gaining from the process of mentoring this business, as well as more generally?

Mentoring is a two-way relationship; it takes commitment from both parties. She not only has business experience and energy but the ability to listen and take on advice, which is an important aspect in the mentoring process.

Specifically in terms of Lufi’s business we have gained insight into the opportunities for Samoan businesses to use New Zealand as a hub – a place to manufacture and develop their products, utilising the business skills and the expertise offered at the Icehouse.

What do you think makes for a good mentoring relationship?

Honesty, two-way communication, expertise, mutual respect and shared values, clear expectations, perseverance and a good dose of shared humor.

A startup journey has its ups and downs but as a mentor it is our job to help our clients meet their milestones, help them pick up the pieces when times are tough and encourage them to focus on the bigger picture.

Lufi has all the things we look for in a successful entrepreneur: she is a visionary, a big-picture thinker who thinks outside the square. She believes in herself and the end vision. We picked up her passion for this business right at the onset and that’s the key.
Coming up in Small Business: Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer may have been down on it, but remote working – or teleworking – is becoming a more viable option as technology improves. So how does it work in a small business? If you’ve got a story to share, please get in touch via the ‘Read more by Caitlin Sykes’ function below.

NZ Herald