Growth spawns need for more business mentors

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More business mentors are being sought to cater for projected business growth in Central Otago and those already in the mentor scheme say it is a “win-win” for all.

The campaign came as Business Mentors New Zealand (BMNZ) celebrated 25 years of mentoring in New Zealand and had been launched because of the strong predicted business growth in Central Otago, BMNZ Otago manager John Rigby said.

“We are very excited by the projected business growth across the region, hence our desire to add more Central Otago mentors to our team . . . We are looking for as many mentors as we can get.”

The scheme had been operating with start-up and mature businesses in Central Otago for more than 10 years. About 10 volunteer mentors had helped about 125 businesses during that time.

Some clients had also been assisted in the Queenstown Lakes district, although this had been harder to arrange in the past because of the extra distance, time and costs involved, Mr Rigby said.

However, now teams of mentors had been established in Queenstown and Wanaka it was easier to deliver support in those areas. Technology such as Skype also meant “remote” mentoring was possible for other areas, such as in the Maniototo.

The scheme meant start-up or developing businesses could receive valuable advice and ideas from those who were already successful in business, Mr Rigby said.

“If you have been a business owner or involved in business for more than a few years, there is a good chance you have developed a whole range of skills and experiences that makes you much better at what you do now than when you first started out . . .

“Let’s be honest, the mere fact that a business operates over any period of time in what is a dynamic environment influenced by so many factors over which the business owner has no control means the owner has been doing something right.”

Mr Rigby said businesspeople often undersold their abilities and talent, but when they used their skills and knowledge to help others it strengthened the existing business community and economic wellbeing of their area.

B & M Joinery co-owners Brendon Munro and Mark Harrison said they had received great support through the scheme.

They launched their Cromwell business only a month ago and said mentor Ian Shirley had provided valuable, impartial advice “from the very beginning”.

The Central Otago economy was strong and their business was already thriving; they have already taken on an apprentice.

They emphasised the confidentiality of the scheme and encouraged others to consider taking part.

Mr Shirley, who is the sales and administration manager at ViBlock, in Earnscleugh, had various management roles in other sectors before that role. He said he had volunteered as a mentor for six years.

It was rewarding to be able to pass on his experience and he was energised by the enthusiasm of those starting out in business.

“I’ve always been encouraged by the enthusiasm and commitment that these people have to set up a new business . . . It’s great to be involved and share that experience.”

He said it only cost a few hundred dollars for businesses to take part in the scheme, and they would receive ongoing advice.

He believed small businesses were “the way forward for our country” and encouraged those starting out to be prepared.

“It’s that old saying, failing to plan is planning to fail.”

– For more information about Business Mentors New Zealand go to www.businessmentors.org.nz or contact John Rigby on 0274 785-121 or at john.rigby@osea.org.nz