Written by Adele Barlow Thanks to the contributors for
Photography by Michael Farr donating their time:
Xero, Minimonos, Jamorama,
Design by Catherine Chi &
Running with scissors, Mr Vintage,
Instinct, IVHQ, Lucy Lou, Epic
Beer, Missing LInk, Asil Group
Published by Limited, Annah Stretton, Hell
Pizza, Cookie Time
A not-for-profit entity supported
by NZTE and leading national
“CapabilityNZ helps build capability
by coordinating and leveraging the
best of what the private and public
sectors can contribute.”
Incorporated since: 2008
No of Staff: 3 full time,
3 part-time staff
Funded by: - Peter Drucker
There are certain stages to running a mean increased profit, efficiency, and
truly effective business. First, decide opportunities. Essentially, this book
what you want your business to create exists to lead you to an online tool we
We don’t pretend to know how you should for you. Then plan the business to built to grow New Zealand business:
grow your business. Instead, we wrote a meet your needs. Remember that www.businessassessment.co.nz.
book to introduce you to fourteen local small is good, if it meets your end.
business heroes. Work on your business, not in it. And Enjoy,
when you’ve created something that
From different industries, and all at works, make it exceptional.
different parts of their journey, they
share their stories on one key message: Growth does not have to mean chain
no one succeeds alone. stores or global expansion: it can
1. Gather kiwi business stories
2. Mix with management theory
3. Create a book
4. Get the book to you
5.You get inspired to visit
e in t
y, no on eir story
he wa r th u
(By t as paid fo n, who yo
book ing Este page
- incl et on the
From someone who’s tried
The assessment tool
When I established my company, I We operate in a virtual environment, with At the time, I thought: “How can I talk
wanted a tool that would help us keep people located both locally and abroad. to someone about my business when
track of what we were doing. We also The BAT was very useful in putting our I don’t even know the person? I might
wanted something simple. At the thinking and discussions in the same be better off talking to my friends!”
time, we were looking for something place - avoiding repeated documents, This is overcome when you start to
that would organise our thinking. I spreadsheets, and teleconferences. get more involved in the process
remembered a conversation with NZTE behind the tool. The tool gives
staff about the Business Assessment BAT became a good tool for us during you a starting point for talking to
Tool. So I went online to find it, and this start-up phase. The tool gave us advisors. Again, I found the tool great
registered, to see what it was all about. most of the features we were looking for putting people on the same page
for (bar the external benchmarking) and when talking about the business.
When filling in the information about my we could use it in our “own” way too.
company, I found that several questions We decided to fill out the questionnaire I would recommend that other
would not apply to small companies once every 18 months to measure our businesses use the tool. I have
or start-ups. This was a bit frustrating progress. This told us where to focus, done so already. I believe that there
because I was thinking: “What is the during different stages. At the same is always a balance between the
use of the form for us?” However, time, we could get access to external intended purpose of the tool and
I found out that I could add advisors advisors - and insight - on how to build how different businesses use it - like
(internal and external) to my company up capability when required. how we used it in the “international
profile and this became key. coordination” arena.
The tool gave us most of the things
we were looking for:
• Quick and easy snapshot of our
• Triggered thinking on how to
build our business capability
• An “internal” benchmarking
tool that could be used over
• Access to external people that
would give us good insight
I would strongly suggest getting to
know who is behind the BAT. This
takes away the feeling of it being
just “another online form.” By doing
this, business people get the most
of the tool.
Q: “Maybe I’m just not ambitious
enough. But I don’t really want
to build a huge company.Is there
something wrong with that?”
the word we’re all 13
2, a characteristic that may be developed potential aptitude
[What exists right now]
What your business does
[What allows it to exist]
What your business can do
You can spend all day, all week, all year
on the business in survival mode
But growth happens when
you work on this
Business process = working in your business Business capability = working on your business
Your staff’s actions, opening the store, greeting the Store location, customer mapping, determining
customer, explaining the product, making the sale, the price points for products, sales strategy,
putting through the transaction, greeting the next marketing strategy, sending staff to a training
customer, purchasing new equipment, meeting a program, attending a training program, meeting
supplier, talking to staff, closing the store with business advisors
EXPENDITURE OF TIME AND ENERGY INVESTMENT OF TIME AND ENERGY
Increasing your business capability
Increasing what your business can do
Every now and then in business we
get a big pay day (like when selling a
business). What I am really getting paid
for is the days and days I rock up and
perfect my craft.
I also get up between 4-5am every day
I am a long distance swimmer. If I don’t and I work on my business until 9am
train, I can’t do the race. But training from my home office. When I’m in the
is not just about stamina, it’s about head office, it’s reactionary, as there is
perfecting the technique so it becomes so much to be actioned from moment to
effortless. I see being in business the moment. That morning or growth time
same way. The only way I get the pay is crucial, to take my business to the
day is perfecting my technique, working next level. That’s when I set up my day,
on the team, making sure we have the work on my dreams and schemes and
stamina required, and hitting those big identify the 20% so that I know I won’t get
pay days every few years. sidetracked. - Peter Drucker
- Melissa Clark Reynolds – Annah Stretton
How do you increase business growth? 19
- Charles Bruxton
Most business failures begin in
the f irst creation, with problems such as
undercapitalization, misunderstanding of
the market, or lack of a business plan.
To bake a cake To build a house
you use a recipe you create a blueprint
To build a business
you clearly define what you’re trying to accomplish.
You carefully think through the product or service that
you want to provide to your target market, then you
organize all the elements to meet that objective.
Company facts Xero - Rod Drury
Xero After Trademe, the bar was set. You could focus on being the entrepreneur.
Online accounting software for know, they did a $750 million deal. Entrepreneurs are not good
Mac, iPhone and Windows that So we always wanted to do a $1 managers. They tend to frustrate the
gives companies and advisors billion dollar business. Hamish and
hell out of people – always chasing the
easy access to business bank I talked about it for a while. We built
next deal; waving their arms around;
transactions, invoices, reports. a good, capable team around us –
doing strategy. The entrepreneur’s got
great programmers, developers, and
the big picture; but it always works better
Trading since: 2007 designers that we specifically targeted,
if you’ve got a complementary team.
Staff: 90 full-time and a great operational team – Alistair
Locations: Auckland, Wellington, Grigg, who was the CIO of Air New
It’s hard, hard work, but what we’re
Christchurch, London, Melbourne Zealand, came in to run tech and
operations. We got good advice from the doing, is absolutely working. The last
people on our Board. year was biggest growth – we tripled our
revenue and grew our customer base
We specifically designed it so that we from 6,000 to 17,000 customers. There’s
Small to medium enterprises
Website: www.xero.com had the resources to put an operations operational back-office stuff you have to
team in there – with Alistair on board, I do for that too. We buiilt the foundations
that would allow for scaleable growth, been seeing that trend – it’s harder where everyone can easily see the
and hopefully we will crack that over for bigger, more complex businesses numbers. And so the cost of advice is
the next year, having done the really to do stuff – whereas small, nimble much less now - the Internet is allowing
hard part. businesses can get stuff done yet. collaboration to happen in a way that
wasn’t possible before.
Software as a Service is all about If you look at GDP and break it up, 38%
getting your early adopters on board, of our country’s GDP is from small I think people like talking about their
and maximizing the network effect – business. So when I think about raising businesses – they’re immersed in it, and
productivity across that sector – a so it actually makes for an interesting
we were always building for tens of
crucial step is moving data to the cloud, conversation; and people always seem
thousands of customers.
so an advisor can work on the business to be asking for help. It really helps
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve any business to have a trained
gotten was from the Aftermail days, outsider looking at your numbers
The barrier to advice before tools
when someone said to me, “You’ll be and opportunities, who can say to
like Xero was the price, and getting
surprised at how long it takes your the data was a delayed process. Now you, “Stop doing this activity, it’s not
competitors to react.” And I have you can have a shared business plan, making money - do this instead.”
My advice? Get your shareholder’s saying, “You guys should talk.” And you confidence in your judgment, but you still
agreement right at the beginning. get that back. want to test that perspective out against
Raise enough capital to be successful. someone else’s becuase you always
You learn so many lessons from prior So networking is about thinking know that you might be wrong.
experience – how to build a profile, how about things from another person’s
to network…. hopefully you make less perspective, and wondering how Over time I think you do get this deep
mistakes the next time. With Xero, we belief that you can spot an opportunity,
you can help them out. Making
knew what we were doing because of but a business opportunity isn’t
connections that add value between
the similar experiences we’d had before. just about building something, it’s
people, are a great way to build your
What we didn’t know how to do, we got also about selling it. You learn to ask
help with, from lawyers and merchant network, because you then become
yourself how money will come from it
banking teams. valuable to people. – how will I take investors from here,
If you like people, and you’re interested I think when it comes to outside advice,
in them, and you like connecting, you’re always listening, but essentially You’ve got to be able to recognize
networking is really easy. You’re always you’re just testing that advice against whether a certain opportunity has
looking at paying it forward. You might your own existing assumptions. business potential. If it doesn’t, you’ve
come across someone, and think of Once you’re more experienced as got to know when to acknowledge that
someone else, then flick an email intro an entrepreneur, you gain more and just walk away.
MiniMonos - Melissa Clark-Reynolds
then 7-year-old daughter is a digital native this point), and got about a year’s feedback
(has no life experience pre-internet). I on the business plan before I really got a
Company facts was increasingly horrified at the offerings team together to get going.
available for children on line – plus I felt an
urgency to work on Climate issues. My business partners have co-created
MiniMonos is a virtual world for
with me and have been an instrumental
children based on sustainability
After I knew that I wanted to create part of the process, plus one of the
and generosity, with over 8000
somewhere for children that expressed Angels I mentioned earlier is now our
great values, encouraged children to take Chairman and has personally invested.
Registered since: 2008
care of each other and this wonderful PriceWaterhouseCoopers continue to help
Trading since: 2009
planet, and didn’t sell them any plastic with tax planning and budget modeling.
Staff: 14 full-time
rubbish, I spent a year talking to everyone
I could about the idea. I went to MIT in Boston in 2007 and
did a short course in Technology
A Partner at PWC met me often to ask Entrepreneurship. Professor Ken Morse
hard questions, until I could explain the there was my mentor for the first couple
I first started thinking about this in late idea to people who knew nothing about of years, and gave me the huge gift of
2006 and early 2007. A few thoughts the industry. I took the idea to a number of knowing that I can both dream, and make
came together in my mind: firstly, my Angel investors to ask advice (not money at those dreams into reality.
Years ago I did a series of courses with Going to conferences has been hugely
Robert Kiyosaki. He remained as one valuable. XMediaLab in 2008 and 2009
of my mentors for five years and has allowed me to workshop the project with
shaped my approach in business. a series of international mentors. Two of
those mentors are now on our advisory
He told me, “What other people think board. Another has been helping us with
raising capital out of Singapore.
of you is none of your business.” I
obviously still want people to like me, but
I also went to the Games, Animation,
I don’t need anyone’s permission to get
and Special Effects conference AnimfX
out there and fulfill my life’s work.
and sucked every bit of advice I could
from gurus about story writing,
Another one is: “Professionals get paid
technology, team development, and
to Practice.” Every now and then in purpose. John Stephenson (Director
business we get a big pay day (e.g. when of Kung Fu Panda) has been a huge
selling a business). What I am really influence.Tim Johnson (Director of
getting paid for is the days and days I Over the Hedge) was also inspiring and
rock up and perfect my craft. I am still using notes from his 2007
presentation on the power of story.
Jamorama - Jon Coursey
My recipe for success: Pay attention.
Company facts Make a plan. Be disciplined. Never
Online music education The idea actually arose in a guitar
software. lesson. David McKinnon was teaching
Mark Ling to play guitar when it
Trading since: 2008 occurred to them that there could be
Staff: 5 full-time demand for guitar lessons online. A
Locations: Wellington few searches on relevant key terms
Sector/industry: Technology and search volume revealed a large
Customer market: market gap.
Individuals wanting to how to
play instruments online using Initially we read a lot - especially
free lessons, step by step internet marketing resources.
instructions, tutorials, jam Eventually, we needed some sound
tracks and famous songs. business coaching and we got our first
Website: www.jamorama.com mentor (a local business coach) who
helped us structure our organization • The business partners learning to
and put a strategy in place. work together in a complementary way
• Getting the right people in the right
Later we attended X-Media Lab - that places in the organization
was a real eye opener for us. Until then • Putting IT infrastructure in place
we had happily been doing our thing for growth.
without really realizing what other Kiwi
creative teams were doing. The advice I read a lot. There have been a number
we received from lab mentors was very of authors who have inspired and shaped
valuable and we’ve grown as business my approach to business management.
people as a result of it. People like Jim Collins, Tom Peters,
Peter Drucker, Seth Godin.
There have been a few major things you
could say have been pivotal in growing I maintain good contact with business
the business: people I’ve met and many have helped
with advice at one time or another.
• Gaining a real understanding of our
Running with Scissors - Friday O’Flaherty & Andy Mitchell
Company facts We met in a fairly progressive division of
a large multinational advertising agency.
We have welcomed outside advice and
constantly seek it out. Our business
Running with Scissors We were delivering some interesting work is based on employing diverse minds
Creative agency. but we felt that there was still a better, and drawing on eclectic experiences
more expansive way of generating ideas. to deliver better answers. We like to
Trading since: 2008 get advice from obvious and obscure
Staff: 8 full-time That business didn’t share our belief; in sources. We also like to think for
Locations: Auckland fact it was opposed to it and restructured ourselves and it’s always interesting
Sector/industry: in a contradictory way. We had the faith deciding what advice to take, what advice
Advertising, predominantly in our convictions to go out on our own to develop and what advice to ignore.
Customer market: and are currently operating a new and
Companies who strive for unique idea generation model. We deliver The hardest part is constantly looking
innovation and improvement. great answers, which provide commercial ahead when you’re furiously busy in the
Website: benefits to our customers and sometimes here and now. It’s easy to get caught up
www.runningwithscissors.co.nz take the form of advertising. in the day-to-day and neglect tomorrow.
But if you’re not focusing on the future, work. But it’s also extremely rewarding. business and we maintain that money is
you’re not going to get any better and Life outside of work has suffered but if only one factor to consider when making
you’re not doing all you can for your we focus on the business now, when it any decision.
business, your staff or your clients. needs our attention the most, we believe
the benefits will outweigh the cost. Our business has been shaped by family,
Managing growth is a constant friends, staff, clients, accountants,
challenge. You don’t want to grow too As the second anniversary of our lawyers, bank managers, our business
fast and stretch yourself too thin, but business approaches we feel the mentor and ourselves.
likewise, if you hamper growth, you’re balance is beginning to return.
not benefiting from the extra energy that We’re particularly grateful to our staff.
growth brings. We’ve had to make a couple of big They share our passion and constantly
decisions about the future of the push us to be better than we are now.
Achieving a good work-life balance is also business, specifically around clients and They readily share the responsibility for
difficult. We haven’t got that right yet. revenue. We’ve been careful to avoid the future of the business - that in turn
Building a business from scratch is hard compromising the core philosophy of our makes us stronger.
It’s vital to set your vision and be true them quickly. Mistakes happen. We want Friday found this advice useful when
to it. We’re in the business of providing a culture where it’s ok to make mistakes looking at the growth of the business:
innovative answers to our clients. We provided you admit them, learn from “What makes you successful now may
employ creative process to draw ideas them, fix them and move on. be the thing that holds you back in the
from the minds of people with diverse future.”
work and life experiences; so the answer We’ve been careful not to shy away from
can really be anything. We exist to make the big decisions. They have provided Andy connects with this famous quote
a difference, not keep things the same. additional focus and remind us of why
by David Ogilvy: “If each of us hires
we’re in business. Every adversity has
people who are smaller than we
Working on the business is essential. an opportunity hidden in it somewhere.
We constantly remind ourselves to look We share everything with staff, the good are, we shall become a company of
ahead, even when it’s busy, even if we and the bad. They appreciate the honesty, dwarfs. But if each of us hires people
have to start exceptionally early or work they help us make the right decisions who are bigger than we are, we shall
ridiculously late to get it done. It’s also and they make our business what it is. become a company of giants.”
important to identify mistakes and fix
The health of a business begins with a high demand on
performance. Performance is not hitting the bull’s-eye with
every shot. A performance record must include mistakes.
It must include failures. It must reveal a person’s limitations
as well as his strengths. The one person to distrust is one who
never makes a mistake, never commits a blunder, never fails in
what he tries to do. Either he is a phony, or he stays with the
safe, the tried, and the trivial. The better a person is, the more
mistakes he will make - for the more new things he will try.
- Peter Drucker
Performance is rather the
consistent ability to produce results
over prolonged periods of time
and in a variety of assignments.
The idea of long-range planning rests on a number of
misunderstandings. The future will not just happen if
one wishes hard enough.
The long-range is largely made by short-range decisions.
Unless the long-range is built into, and based on, short-range
plans and decisions, the most elaborate long-range plan will
be an exercise in futility.
- Peter Drucker
unless the short-range plans (the here and now)
are integrated into one unified plan of action,
they will be expedient, guess, and misdirection.
Mr Vintage - Rob Ewan
At first, I had the whole attitude of, “No, but could also see that it could be bigger
I don’t need help, I’m doing all right than it was. She happened to be working
Company facts by myself.” I just didn’t want someone as a PA for a business coach and advisor,
to tell me how to run my business. I
Mr Vintage: thought I was doing all right.
NZ’s premium online t-shirt She set up a meeting with him, and I also
brand, stocking Australasia’s saw him speak at this seminar they put
The business started in 2005. Initially I
largest range of authentic 80s’ on - I was quite impressed by the whole
was doing Mr. Vintage on the side of my
themed and pop culture t-shirts. set-up. He gave a CD to take away with
university studies, but eventually I pulled
testimonials. Essentially, I think I just
out of uni and went full time, moving into
Trading since: 2005 a house with a massive basement, where trusted him, so I thought, “I’ll give it a go.”
Staff: 10 full-time I put up Mr. Vintage gear and warehouse
Location: Auckland T-shirts. It was our first makeshift office. So often, it comes down to a gut feeling, a
Sector: Retail As time went on, we moved into a store in trust thing.
Website: www.mrvintage.co.nz Parnell.
Plus, I’ve always been very open to giving
One day, a friend’s girlfriend came into things a go, to trying new things, and to
that store. She thought it was awesome, keep improving and growing the business.
For the first time since I started the really good at systemizing the business. I
business; there was someone there that had come into business with an idea, but I
I could step out of the business with, that didn’t actually know how to run and grow
I could talk to. There are certain things the operations – and he was able to give
you can’t talk to your staff about. me those templated systems. The way
that I looked at any mentoring expense
It was great to have someone to bounce was seeing it as an investment, not a
ideas off and empathize with me. He’d cost. I went in with a mindset of, “I’m
been through his own business, which investing in myself. Even if I’m going to
made a huge difference. go with a coach for a year - I’m going to
try and up-skill myself so much in that
Finding the mentor that you need time; and bring on skills and add to what
I’ve already got.”
specifically to help the business,
means defining what complementary
“Acknowledge what you’re not good
skill-set you want.
at, read books or get people in the
We were already quite strong with business, surround yourself by people
marketing, branding; but Marti was who can help you to fix that weakness.”
Instinct - Dan Milward
So we reinvented ourselves to what we that I needed to bring certain people
Company facts are now. We’re a company that creates
free world-class open source software
with certain skills into the company,
to help us grow and do the stuff that
Instinct and we sell upgrades and services we’re not very good at.
WordPress, E-commerce and around it. We’ve taken the freemium
Game Creation software business model and mastered it, and we
If your business is stuck then pay
make a bloody good income from it too.
Trading since: 2002
somebody to get it un-stuck. If you
No of Staff: 5 Advice is an interesting one. Anybody can’t afford that then borrow some
Location: Wellington can come up with a good idea or some money - or give away a percentage
Sector/industry: Technology “sound advice”.
of your business. It’s better to do
I think most people are too busy doing that, than to fail massively.
their own thing to really stop what they
We’re in our seventh year of business. are doing to help your business. You get a Our goal this year is to bring in a CEO
We started as a small run-of-the-mill whole lot of people saying “you just need that can do things for Instinct that I
web development company and had to do XYZ “ but the problem is that you could never dream of doing.
some decent clients. Yet as the years might not be the right person to do XYZ.
went on, more development companies The biggest obstacle we overcame
started to pop up in Wellington, and it My moment of divine inspiration was was figuring out that we needed to
became harder to win decent contracts. not about asking for help, but realizing reinvent ourselves.
IVHQ - Dan Radcliffe
After graduating at 22 from Otago After 6 months working on my parents’
Company facts with a MBus and BCom, I signed onto
the Telstra Clear graduate program
farm to get enough funds together I
went and taught in Kenya for 4 months,
IVHQ but quit after a week, deciding that travelling through Kenya, Uganda,
Safe, quality and extremely working for someone else wasn’t Tanzania and Egypt. The trip was
affordable volunteering for me. At the time I felt I needed to fantastic and really opened my eyes,
placements in developing do something completely different, however after meeting numerous
countries all over the world. to give myself time to find what I people involved in volunteer tourism
wanted to do in life. in various countries I still could not
Trading since: 2006 fathom how the trips could not be done
Staff: 5 staff in NZ, over 350 I didn’t have a great deal of money cheaper. On returning home to New
employees worldwide but wanted to travel so decided a Zealand in 2006, International Volunteer
Locations: New Plymouth volunteer holiday abroad would be HQ was born with the goal of becoming
Sector/industry: Volunteer travel the best way to this. Unfortunately, the world’s largest and most affordable
Customers: IVHQ sends over 5000 after extensive research of various volunteer travel company.
individuals overseas annually companies, the costs of the cheapest
Website: www.volunteerhq.org company I could find were still After extensive research for partner
extremely high. companies and another fleeting
6-week visit to Kenya, Nepal, Vietnam I have always appreciated the importance while some others are unable to read
and Thailand to establish initial of trying to absorb as much advice and nor write) and so it can be extremely
partnerships and staff, International knowledge from others with experience. difficult and frustrating trying to work
Volunteer HQ was launched in late When travelling I have tried to network out what methods of management work
July 2007. While initial progress was with local teams and companies similar best in each country.
slow, by December 2007 we had grown to ours to get more ideas, but a lot of the
enough to add Peru and Ecuador to time have had to employ a “learn as we Initially I probably tried to deal with too
our list of programs. go” approach. Friends from school and many people from too many different
university, now practicing in marketing, cultures and backgrounds and never
Over the past 2 years we have added finance and law have always been managed to get 100% out of any of
Tanzania, Ghana, South Africa, India, extremely forthcoming with help and them. Getting a highly reliable person
Cambodia, Costa Rica, Colombia and support which has been a huge help. at the top of each local team who knows
Guatemala to our countries on offer their staff and program, inside and
and now send over 5000 people on Managing international staff has also out, and is able to delegate, manage
our trips abroad annually. We employ been a steep learning curve. We deal with and motivate their teams effectively,
5 staff in New Zealand and through such a large number of cultures and our then report directly to our head office
our local teams have over 350 staff staff have a huge variety of backgrounds in NZ, has proven to be the best way of
working for IVHQ worldwide. (some of whom have completed MBAs, overcoming this problem.
The people to have the biggest influence but throughout the world, who have a Looking back over the first 3 years of
on IVHQ have been my parents. Their passion for what we are doing. the business, new ideas or things that
unwavering support from the day The most important piece of advice I’ve haven’t worked have generally been
I decided to start IVHQ and had to been given? Preparation, planning and directly related to a lack of planning or
move back home to make things work
self belief are critical to success. research on my behalf. Self belief and
financially, to present day when Mum confidence have been very important,
still works in the head office in New Getting the confidence to start the as the business has progressed.
Plymouth as part of our team, has business with a high chance of failing,
been incredibly important in the overall and to walk away from the standard Despite the relative fast growth of the
success of the company. We have also safe 9-5 job out of university was a company there have also been a lot of
been very lucky to be associated with tough decision to make. By researching moments where you question yourself.
some very supportive businesses and the market thoroughly, and planning In these times, remembering to be
people in New Zealand, and we have a for a variety of highly likely outcomes, confident, to believe in your abilities and
very dedicated team of staff, not only I was confident I could make the what you are doing has been crucial.
at our head office in New Plymouth company work.
Lucy Lou - Nicola Thomas
After visiting my favourtie city of
Company facts Paris a couple of years ago, I noticed
the extremely wide range of legwear
Lucy Lou available. All manner of patterns
Contemporary NZ made legwear. and designs were available, so I
thought, why should New Zealand
Trading since: 2009 miss out on gorgeous leggings
Staff: 1 full-time, 2 part-time and tights? So Lucy Lou was born,
Location: Upper Hutt in about September 2009. All our
Sector/industry: product is printed on Columbine -
Consumer goods (clothing) we’re 100% local.
Whenever I’m wondering about my
next move, it usually comes back
The trap with a small business is
down to money. The thing is, this is
that you want and sometimes try to my money, and if this goes down the
do everything yourself but you learn gurgler, that’s a lot of my own money
quickly enough that you can’t. lost. Cashflow is the biggest stress.
You know, to be really honest, lately I’ve 8am, then back with her, having to do
just been feeling like I’m drowning, and the orders and printing when I had spare
my lifeguard hasn’t come out to get me moments. It’s a very manual process - I
yet. I’ve been thinking of getting a grant print and design the tights myself.
to help me through, but I don’t have
the time to go find the information, let Since I feel like I’m just a mother, and
alone spend time writing a big grant haven’t been formally taught anything,
application. I started out with just a dream but no
idea how to execute it. My mentor,
What gets you through, are the little St John Craner, has been an incredible
things: the order got out. Or that this advisor - to me, he has been the most
customer called back and liked the amazing person.
product, and wanted to order more.
It’s my business, and I want it to reach
Recently, my daughter Lucy had to get an
operation, and so she stayed in hospital.
the stars, but he has taught me to
I was with her until about midnight, celebrate the skills I have, and to ask
then had to come home, I was up until for help with what I lack.
I found St John Craner through Suddenly, they may say, “Oh, I know
approaching Insight Creative, which someone who could help with that.”
56 used to be Origin Design. They have Before you know it, through that
been amazing, like a big sister that keeps networking, someone who was once a
me honest, especially Fiona Marianne. stranger, comes into your path to get
Through their special support for small you to the next point of your journey.
businesses, they gave me a huge boost
through doing the Lucy Lou branding, as The other thing I’ve learned is
well as setting up our website. to not let the knockbacks get
St John Craner, through his own company
Distinct, has sort of just stayed with me
Luckily, I have great people around,
since then, and we’ve continued to work
like Glenn and team from Digitex in
closely together ever since.
Tawa - he always has amazing ideas,
and a “We can do anything” attitude;
When I saw the packaging for the
Sally who prints for me, is invaluable,
first time, I cried. I am so excited and
with a wicked sense of humour; my
passionate about this. And then at
lovely husband Peter; and of course
times I could chuck every single pair
the little girl herself, Lucy.
of tights away. Other business owners
must have had that same feeling at some
You have this passion for this thing,
point: the worry that people won’t like, or
and you think that it can’t possibly fail
buy, your products and services.
- and if someone rejects your product
or service, you want to say to them,
What I’ve learned is that you can’t be “Don’t you know how hard I’ve worked
afraid to ask for advice from those who on that?” And you just have to pick
know a certain area better than you. yourself up and get on with it.
The e-myth = the myth of the entrepreneur
“The E-myth Revisited” is a book about bringing order to chaos within small business. The entrepreneurial myth,
came from the assumption that business success is achieved by simply wanting to own a business, investing capital,
The Entrepreneur, has He looks for skills within The Technician, if left to run The Manager is the past –
the vision that drives the himself that he can create a the business, will get tired as the one in charge of bringing
business forward; and is the business out of. The mechanic chaos sets in. The baker will about order and planning. He
dreamer. He is the creative, opens an auto shop. The web be so busy baking that the is practical, problem-focused,
innovative energy. The developer starts an agency. This running of the business itself detests change and sticks to
Entrepreneurial Seizure hits refers to the character of The - the accounting and strategy time-tested solutions.
when a person decides they Technician , who owns the skills – will become neglected. The
want to start a business. that make the business work. Entrepreneur’s energy will
He is the present; in charge of fade. And the Manager might
doing what needs to be done, take over.
and building what needs to be
built, in order for the business
to run. When a business is
starting out, the technician is
usually the most prominent.
and setting a targeted profit. In reality, the success of any business depends on numerous factors, which should be
examined and connected to give the entrepreneur a holistic view of the reality of what it takes to make a business succeed.
Michael Gerber talks about how when a baker opens a bakery, he needs to remember that the skills needed to make a
bakery successful are different from those involving an oven. His book’s tagline is: “Why Most Small Businesses Don’t
Work and What to Do About It.”
None of the characters As the business Eventually chaos At this point, the business Some businesses also
can effectively run the matures, and the owner emerges and the reaches its maturity go through the Turn
business by themselves. seeks outside help, then business owner either phase. The entrepreneurial Key revolution, which
The Technician depletes the characters begin to chooses to get small perspective and model refers to franchising
the energy of the get introduced to one again, to go for broke for the business approach opportunities. As
venture, the Manager another, and a comfort or to fully survive this their maturity too. The clearer systems and
can deplete the soul, zone is born where they phase and move on to perspective starts to processes begin to
and the Entrepreneur can exist together. the next one. recognize a wider view of emerge, and the
can remove much- the business’s future and franchise possibility
needed order. the model can now serve becomes visible, a
particular functions and business can then scale
deliver assignments for the up very quickly in a
technician, the manager, short period of time.
AND the entrepreneur.
Epic Beer - Luke Nicholas
I grew up with a Grandpa who home- realized we had to make it profitable, and
Company facts brewed beer, so it was always there; suggested making a new beer brand,
which we did. Ultimately, this became
but I wasn’t going to be a brewer. I did a
Epic Beer commerce and management degree; then Epic. After a year, the brewery decided
Providers of specialist beer. traveled to the States on an exchange. they’d have to spend a whole bunch of
money to make it fly; so in 2007 I bought
Trading since: 2006 While I was there, I tasted some horrible, it back, and kept making beer.
Staff: 1 full-time, 1 part-time bitter beer. I then came back to NZ, and
Locations: Auckland worked for export company for 3 years; In the States, I had the chance to see
Sector/industry: then moved to LA, and got into brewing what craft beer could become. I saw in
Consumer goods (beverage) over there, and hung out with brewers. NZ there was a niche for myself – my
Awards: passion is making great beer and sharing
Earlier this year RateBeer. Then I came back to NZ, and realized, it with people.
com announced the best “Hey, I can do anything I want - why
beers of each region of the don’t I be a brewer?” So I went out to this We outsource everything. Contract
world. For the Australian and brewery in East Auckland to ask for a job, warehouse, logistics, everything. We use
New Zealand region, Epic and they refused. I asked them for a year, Xero. I used to be the guy who printed out
Armageddon IPA was rate #1 and they could see that I was keen. So I the invoice, and put the courier sticker
and Epic Pale Ale rated #2. threw in a high-paying job that I hated, for on the box. That was taking up more than
Website: www.epicbeer.com a minimum wage job at this brewery. half a day, every single day. You have
While I was managing the brewery, I to get to a certain size of things to be
able to justify that extra spend on an
employee - and it was just a growing
phase - figuring out what takes up
most of that time, and figuring out how
to get someone else to do it.
I’ve been through a bunch of business
courses, and some of them are really cool
and have sound bites that stick. Otherwise
they just reinforce common sense.
A lot of it is about getting out and
learning along the way.
NZTE helped out but we were trying to get
to another tier to advisors – Beachheads.
However, because we’re too small, and
are not doing over 5 million in sales, we
don’t have access to those resources.
We got a grant from NZTE for building There are things in life that don’t and Facebook. These are the tools
our brand, and a grant for market always work out at the time when you that I use to market the brand - it
development, in the UK. That allowed is an opportunity in itself that has
take them in, but then you get in a
us to get our brand right the first time, become valuable.
better position, and find someone or a
and we spent a lot of time and money to
situation that’s better suited to you.
get that right. Brand was really, really I’m using those networks to find an
important. People had to want to pick assistant. It’s powerful being able to
I was lucky – because I was involved
Epic off the shelves in supermarkets and tap into your friends’ friends, and their
with realbeer.com – this has opened up
in bars. friends, and their friends. The way I
an entire network in the states, to key
work is through word of mouth and
brewers and what they’re doing. It helps
I ended up interviewing ten companies, building networks.
me spot the new global trends, and keep
and it took a whole week, where they
track of what’s going on in the market all
came and pitched to me. I met boutique When I first started using Twitter,
around the world.
consultancies, big agencies; what I there were 450 people in New Zealand
wanted was a really good marketing on it. I used it more like a personal
In terms of business advisors, I picked
partner. My main criteria were: they had diary rather than anything else.
stuff up from talking to people. I also
to able to explain their process to me, Now it’s a way of being able to share
they had to get on with me, and they looked at a wide range of different interesting stuff.
had to like beer. We had obstacles with resources available.
one of the mentoring programs we went When I was traveling, it was a great
through, where the personalities just The communities that I’ve built are way of saying, “Here’s my beer, here’s
didn’t really click. around social media - Twitter, Linkedin, my location.”
I actually found a venture capitalist “I think when it comes to mentors or
through Twitter – we’re all but ready to advisors, it’s really important just to
close a deal with her. be able to get along with them, for
your personalities to click. “
Someone told her to follow me, and then
I checked out her website, and went,
“Wow – this is exactly the kind of person
we’ve been looking for.”
New Zealanders are so entrepreneurial,
but we don’t have enough access to those
resources. A lot of the reason why small
businesses fail is because they’re under-
resourced and under-capitalized. The
pattern is that in the first year, if you’re
profitable, your money’s flat out in stock,
and in making more profit – making
more to sell more. And so we lack the
resources to grow.
Missing Link - Kaila Colbin
Missing Link has been around since every day, and the more brains we can
2006, but we really crystallised our throw at a problem, the better!
Company facts focus on social media for do-gooders
around a year ago. I’m my own biggest obstacle. For
Missing Link example, I don’t just think, I KNOW that
Specialist social media When I first started, I attended a bunch the more clearly I focus on our core
marketing company. of courses at the CDC. I put together proposition, the more powerful the
an Advisory Board over a year ago and business becomes. But I struggle to turn
Trading since: 2006 they keep me honest. away other business opportunities that
Staff: 2 full-time come through the door. I think this is a
Locations: Christchurch My Board has a great ability to help me classic entrepreneur’s struggle - we hate
Sector/industry: plan strategically while appreciating to say no! But, perversely, saying no
Technology, services the constraints of the business. I often creates more opportunities than
Customer market: absolutely would not have been able saying yes.
Companies that are trying to to develop Missing Link to what it is
make the world a better place without their input. I have had terrific mentors and advisors,
Website: who all give me excellent business
www.missinglinknz.co.nz So many business owners I see think guidance, but also really get that
they have it all figured out; in my Missing Link is about more than the
experience, we’re all figuring it out bottom line. So they challenge me to set
grander visions, to create more inspiring
opportunities and objectives, and to be
unafraid to make Missing Link a world-
You have to learn, every day: from your
support network, from formal sources,
from books, or from your customers and
the people in your business. The moment
you think you’ve got it sussed, it all falls
apart! You have to be really awake to
the fact that your business is changing
constantly, your customer needs are
changing constantly, your staff dynamics
are changing constantly.
I’ve also learned it’s more fun and
interesting to chase your grandest
vision than to chase the one that
seems most achievable.
Asil Group Limited - William Sommerville
I worked for the export-import to Singapore, Malaysia, China, and are
corporation for about 14 years, and just opening to Indonesia, Philippines,
Company facts when I left, I saw a niche opportunity. We Korea, and growing quite quickly.
developed markets mostly in Asia around
Asil Group Limited paua shells, and the business started We’ve had a business plan, but I actually
Privately owned international growing on that. We would be the largest think that a 10 or 20 page business plan
trading company. traders of seashell in the Asia-Pacific is a thing of the past - a strategy is much
region, if not the world. Commercial more important. About six months ago
Trading since: 1988 shells - as in, making buttons, shell our bank Westpac invited us to one of
Staff: 3 full-time, 1 part-time sheets for laminates. We buy and sell these things put on by Results.com. I
Location: Wellington shells from Mexico, Chile, and send to think there’s some connection to Jim
Sector/industry: factories in China, Vietnam, Phillipines, Collins there. We went along, they gave
Export marketing Italy. A lot of them come from Yemen, us a free four-hour thing and then we
Customer market: the Red Sea, then are made into buttons decided to go a bit further, and did a
Global, with emphasis on Asia and sent to Turkey - and so we get paid whole day session. It’s been very good.
Website: from Turkey. On the back of that we They did our accounting as well. Our
http://www.asilgroup.com have always been exporting foodstuffs, accountant’s a young guy, and very
particularly Whittaker’s chocolate, mainly interested in the business - as a result
of that, we meet every week, for about and sometimes limited. At least with
an hour on a Monday morning. There’s the food products, we know about NZ’s
a list of things we go through, and we image, we know that as long as you’ve
review, and look at where we’re going. got enough cocoa beans, and factories,
you can keep making chocolate.
Our BHAG - Big Hairy Audacious Goal -
is in fifteen years: “To be New Zealand’s I believe that the key to any business
#1 International Branded Food and
is relationships and building
Beverage Marketer.” I think it’s vital to
relationships. For instance, we’re
be focused on what you do best - decide
looking at exporting corn chips. We
what you’re going to do, stick to your found a little company in Wellington that
core business, and try and be the makes fantastic corn chips; and what we
best at it. That’s what we did with the can do for that company is instantly link
shells, and food marketing. them into the distributors we’ve got all
around Asia. It’s taken us years to find,
We made that conscious decision to put and nurture, those critical relationships.
more emphasis on the food business Those relationships are everything when
because shells are a natural product it comes to exporting.
We gave a talk at the ExportNZ ready to make a serious investment a good networking experience. I’m
breakfast recently about the of time and energy. It doesn’t happen also a member of export NZ. I think
intermediary solution for exporters. overnight. We actually got help from networking is really important - you
There are so many small companies the Chambers of Commerce back can get that from all sorts of places.
in NZ with good product and good when we started. I got a business lead Friends of mine belong to Business
capacity - but exporting is daunting for from them very early on, and it led to Networking International, which is
them, what with the freight documents, selling a container of paua to Hong useful for local contacts. There are
language barriers, currency, foreign Kong with a $20,000 profit - which several in Wellington.
exchange rate, and so on. was a lot of money in those days.
I figured that paid my subs for the I’ve found that Kiwis like helping
The one thing that I always stress Chamber of Commerce for the rest of Kiwis; if people ask me for help, I’m
when I talk to people about starting my life; and I’ve been a keen member always happy to go see them, and
a business - you’re probably going ever since. not just if there’s something in it for
to lose money for the first two years. us. When I hired Andrew, I went to an
It’s very difficult to go straight into a Everyone gets something different employment lawyer specialist, who
profitable situation - you’ve got to to be from those organisations; for us, it’s charged me about $450 an hour for
something he just regurgitated from change of documentation, and duties.
a template. I got quite upset and was Yet my philosophy is that if you haven’t
talking to someone about it, and they got any problems, you haven’t got
told me, “You know, you can go to the any business.
Employers federation, Chambers of
Commerce, and get the same thing for When I started the business, a former
nothing.” So that’s a useful tip. You do general manager of NZ Forest Products
need to be a member but now nearly all mentored me, who I worked with for
these organisations are merging so you 13 years. The most important thing
only need one membership. he taught me about was honesty and
reputation. Your reputation is critical -
There are always obstacles - exchange that’s how people will decide whether or
rate’s a really big one for us. The not to come to you.
main way we overcome that, is to sell
wherever we can in NZ dollars. Other A reputation takes a long time to
hurdles continue to crop up too - with build up, and just five minutes to lose.
Scaling the business (From Jim Collins’ Good to Great, page 120)
1 The start-up failure
2 Soon the company 3 4 Processes, systems, 5 There is order from
rate is high because grows and starts to procedures and chaos, but the
start-ups often stumble over itself
Someone says, checklists start to entrepreneurial energy
respond to growth and – with an overload “Something emerge. What was also dies. Members
success in the wrong of new customers, once a flat structure, of the founding team
way. A successful orders, products
needs to change where everyone felt complain that things
entrepreneur is and people. Lack of around here.” equal, now becomes aren’t the same
filled with creativity, systems, accounting, a hierarchy, with “us” anymore. The creative
imagination, and strategy, and lack and “them”. magic begins to fade.
venturing out into of hiring, creates
new landscapes. problems with
Some of the Everything just At some point,
original staff carries on. the company
leave, and begin tries to
another start-up. reinvent itself.
Start up Scaleable business
• Effective strategy turns it into either lifestyle or • Effective strategy builds exponential growth
scaleable business • Independent of founders
• Based around the lives and schedules of the founders • Clear systems and processes
• Lack of processes and systems • Franchise model
• Experimentation phase
Annah Stretton Clothing Company
I’d been at art school in NZ; and had gone
Company facts on to complete a chartered accountancy
degree. I worked initially for a clothing
Annah Stretton company as their accountant; then an
Stretton Group is based in a multimillion dollar purpose built head office opportunity arose to join their design
building allowing Annah to factor for growth; particularly in the global team. Four years later, I went out on my
fashion market. own. Now we have 30 domestic stores
which we run as a vertical operation, and
Trading since: 2003 are exporting globally.
No of Staff: 145
Locations: Stretton Group remains based in the Waikato New Zealand women are the queens of
Sector/industry: Consumer goods (fashion) small business. And they are often very
Customer market: 27 fashion retail stores throughout New Zealand, export happy to remain in a small environment:
accounts to the U.K., Ireland, Europe, USA (California) and Australia they’re doing something they love, they’re
Awards: 2007 Winner of the Zonta International (NZ), Woman of the self-employed and there’s flexibility
Biennium; Member of New Zealand Order of Merit for Services to Fashion, around bringing up the family, so in many
Business and the Community; 2009 New Zealand recipient of the Veuve ways the operation never eventuates
Clicquot Award. This global tribute acknowledges female achievers in beyond hobby status. You’ve got to have
business and industry who exemplify the qualities of Madame Clicquot, the great levels of discipline and passion,
woman behind the successful champagne house Veuve Clicquot. amongst other things, to grow a
Website: www.annahstretton.co.nz business to that next level.
Women can have a certain mindset: My father used to say that business
they drive hidden agendas, avoid is about sticking to the knitting - and
confrontation, and there is a personal that phrase is something I come back
and emotive element that seems to to especially during a recessionary
enter into their business dealings. year. Business is also about profit.
If we can remove ourselves from You’ve got to work out how to
make your culture work in order to
the emotion and think in a more
maximise your profit.
black and white way, we can
become more effective in both life I constantly advise people to find
and business. others they’re inspired by, or who can
add value to their life. You need to be
I have a common-sense approach constantly listening and learning.
to business: I find it very easy to
deal with challenges. I just take the My business is currently trading at
relevant action and move on. I don’t around 10 million, but to take this
deliberate or angst and I don’t revist to the 20, 30, 40 million level, I will
them. The challenge is getting the also need to look to engage people
women I employ to also think in this from relevant environments that will
black-and-white way. enable this growth.
A woman who’s started working I also get up between 4-5am every day
“Never, ever let
for us at an advisory board level and I work on my business until 9am
mediocrity creep into has come out of a big business UK from my home office. When I’m in the
your world. It will environment. The 3 or 4 hours spent a head office, it’s reactionary, as there is
stifle your dreams month, talking to her about the areas so much to be actioned from moment
and passions.” in which I wish to grow and develop to moment. That morning or growth
this business globally, are invaluable.
time is crucial, to take my business
to the next level. That’s when I set
Getting things done relies on one
up my day, work on my dreams and
thing: incredibly good discipline.
schemes and identify the 20% so that I
To run a good business you need
know I won’t get sidetracked.
to be disciplined, in your time and
I see so much mediocrity in business,
and essentially it comes down to a
I use the 80/20 rule. If you look at a
lost passion, and an inability to run a
day as 100 percent, 80 percent of the
sustainable and profitable business.
stuff that happens is peripheral - it
can be delegated, left or ignored. A I never want to be seen as average.
lot of people get sidetracked in a day I love what I do after 18 years in
and waste time. I will always focus this business, although the people I
on the 20% to ensure my day tracks interface with daily constantly provide
efficiently and productively.
challenges; I still love my products,
my environment, and the team that
surrounds me. Every day I strive to
take my operations to the next level
- keeping that passion alive, for the
products and services you have, is
so damn vital. I’m still learning, and
constantly seek challenges to extend
and grow myself. I will continue to
learn until I’m six feet under.
There are times when I’ve had
to reinvent, but I see that as
healthy, simply a new way to drive
my business. Lots of people miss
opportunities by simply being time
poor, but my life has been shaped by
opportunities, so it is important that I
have an open mind and assess them
all before I move on. - Jim Collins
The Good-to-Great Companies
faced just as much adversity as the
comparison companies, but responded to
that adversity differently. They hit the realities
of their situation head-on. As a result, they
emerge from adversity even stronger.
Hell Pizza - Callum Davies
I was introduced to the pizza business at corporate jobs with Westpac, ACC,
the tender age of 15 and worked as a pizza ACNielsen, and IT Manpower. One day
Company facts delivery driver. By 16 I had progressed over a game of golf, he asked me if I
to being a manager. At 17 a friend and I wanted a partner, and the deal was
Hell Pizza jointly owned a carpet cleaning business, struck. We worked between 90 and
Food chain that provides online debt collection contracts, and a furniture 100 hours a week, opening a further
order forms for pizza, pasta removal business. At 18 I bought a pizza three stores, and doing most of the
and salads. parlour in Wainuiomata that had gone out renovations and outfitting ourselves.
Year Established: 1996 Year of So the business was definitely 100%
First Franchise: 2001 It was this place where I tested out what organic and a ‘seat of your pants’ sort
Staff: 300+ Locations: 64 would eventually become Hell Pizza. of thing to begin with. The only plan
stores nationwide, as well as Two years later I relocated to Wellington, was to turnover enough to pay the rent
UK, Ireland, Australia, Canada and the first Hell Pizza store was born. – once that was taken care of, then
Sector/industry: Here we also established the mission more goals were set.
Consumer goods (food) of our company, which still remains the
Customer market: same: “Damned tasty food and a fun In 2001, Warren Powell came on
20 to 39 year olds working environment.” board. He had managed the Fletcher
Website: www.hellpizza.co.nz Challenge GIB franchise and been
Stu McMullin was an old classmate the country manager for Burger King
of mine who had been in a string of NZ, as well as Hire a Hubby’s General
Manager. He brought his franchising need to be the main focus. We’ve
expertise, and I’d say that’s when the always wanted Hell Pizza to remain a
“unholy trinity” was born. fun place to work, and the only proof
of that is our staff satisfaction. We
When we decided to franchise, we had didn’t need to advertise for any of the
those four company owned stores, franchises because there was always
and dealing with managers was too a steady stream of Hell employees
hard. By that point we had already and young entrepreneurs wanting a
too risky until I asked lots of people and
decided that franchising was the best slice of the action. We went from four
went to a graphic designer to see how
way forward for our business. So we stores to 66 in four years - with revenue
we could pull it off - we then rebranded
ended up financing two of our loyal accelerating from $1.2 million to $55
and experienced staff into our stores, million over that period.
entrusting them with quality control
and making it a point to ensure new All us, I was in charge of marketing for We’ve always tried to mix creative
franchises were always up to speed. Hell before we sold. We had a lot of fun marketing with solid strategic
The other two stores were sold. – quite often, I had to hold my business thinking. Having identified our target
partners back, as I am the conservative market as 20 to 39 year olds who were
I’ve always strongly believed that to one. Initially, I wanted a fun name that happy to use the internet, we launched
make the business successful, the I could theme the business around. Hell’s online pizza ordering system, the
people who drive the business I liked the Hell Theme but thought it first to be established in New Zealand.
Saying that, we had always been proud a grain of salt, others more seriously - in Australia, Ireland and Canada. Hell
to be the underdogs, the little guys it would depend on the background of would get $250,000 for each master
against the multi-nationals. Then we whoever was giving me the advice. franchise licence for a country, $10,000
got to a certain number of stores, for each store opened, and a 1 per
and could no longer deny that we had Hell was sold to TPF, owners of cent royalty (we aim to keep the initial
become a chain. That was an obstacle. Burger King, reportedly for $15 price down to ensure franchisees
The way we saw it, we just had goals - million in December 2006. The money are not overburdened with financial
even when we were at 38 stores back in from the NZ sale was used to expand obligations).
2005, we had 66 planned for 2006 (666 internationally - we focused on
all the way)! building the brand overseas. As Hell was doing well overseas, that
freed up capital to buy back the NZ
As for advisors and consultants, initially Hell Systems Ltd owns the Hell business. We’ve largely avoided debt by
I would ask anyone I met, whom I trademarks and other intellectual accumulating savings before tackling
valued, for their opinion. Much later property (IP). While the company had the next stage of development.
on we worked with accountants on spare cash, Stu would register Hell’s
preparing an exit strategy from the NZ IP in countries with potential markets. Hindsight is always great. I made many
market. Some advice I would take with Master franchise rights have been sold mistakes along the way (and I’m still
making them) - but many times I’ve
learned things that I never would
have, had I not made the mistake.
Managed growth has been an obstacle
in itself. To be honest, the money was
always secondary. It has always been
about having heaps of fun and having
a good time with the company. And
as long as everybody is doing their
jobs and doing what they said they’d
do, then we’re all happy campers. I’ve
always believed that business really
is a lot about relationships, whether it
is franchisees, suppliers or customer
- you need to treat them right - it’s
not just about the dollars.
Cookie time - Michael Mayell
I started Cookie Time at 21, but
Company facts my story starts earlier. We talked
about money around the dining table
Cookie time growing up, so by the time I was 18,
Cookie manufacturer producing the Original Chocolate Chunk, rated I had decided that I wanted to own
NZ’s #1 most popular cookie. Cookie Time is an iconic New Zealand a business. Over the next couple of
brand and market leader in its category, and is closely connected with years, I wrote this goal down - that
education through the work of the Cookie Munchers Charitable Trust. I wanted to be a millionaire by the
time I was 30.
Trading since: 1983 (still privately owned by brothers Guy and
Michael Mayell) I did a basic business course at
No of Staff: Over 80 full time staff, with an extra 30 staff and 69 tertiary Christchurch Polytechnic. Then I
students employed during the busy Christmas period got a job that took me to America,
Locations: Factory headquarters in Templeton, Christchurch to promote skiing in New Zealand.
Sector/industry: Consumer goods (food) There, I stayed with a small business
Customer market: 45 independent franchisees delivering stock owner called Diana Corbett. She was
to a range of outlets across New Zealand very encouraging about me starting
Website: www.cookietime.com my own business, and took me to a
retail chain store that was doing well, Diana and she sent me the North find a bakery, to bake my cookies at
Mrs Field’s Hot Cookies, and said, American housewife cookie recipe - night when they’re not using their
“Maybe this is something you could do.” the ‘Tollhouse cookie recipe’ which equipment.” So I got the yellow pages
comes at the back of every Nestle out, and started knocking on doors.
By the end of that six months, the chocolate morsels pack. These Six said no, and I was about to give
job is over, and I’m now sitting in chocolate chips were nothing like up, when the seventh baker said yes.
New Zealand with no job and $10,000 we had in New Zealand - I knew I I’d come in at 7pm after he had gone
in the bank, and I’m 20 or 21 years old had to have big chunks of chocolate. home, bake through the night, clean
and it’s like, “I guess it’s time I started One thing led to another and I finally up, and be gone by 5 or 6am, when he
that business that I said I was going got Cadbury’s dark chocolate and came back again.
to start.” I started two businesses unwrapped 250g of it. I put this on a
before I started Cookie time, with bacon slicer and found I could chop 6 Now I needed the outlets. So I started
limited success. or 8 bars at a time, into chunks. knocking on doors in Christchurch.
I told people, “I’m making these
So then I went to a couple of bakers So I baked these cookies myself from chocolate chip cookies, I’m going to be
and asked them to bake me a chocolate the Tollhouse recipe, gave them to delivering the first batch on Monday the
chip cookie. They all baked me this everybody, and they thought they 7th of February, wanna take a jar?” 70
very, very average cookie. So I rang were delicious. I thought, “I’ll try to out of the 71 stores I spoke to said yes.
On Sunday the 6th, I go into the bakery Essentially I’m cruising along, doing visualisations, affirmations and goal
with my mother and one staff member, well, and I decide that I need a better setting, and how you create your own
and the baker who has to teach me how way of breaking up the chocolate than reality - how success comes to you,
to use the equipment. And we just take the bacon slicer. So I looked in the and how happiness is a state of mind.
that recipe and scale it up 200 times. Yellow Pages and found a guy who It was all sorts of amazing stuff. If you
It’s midnight when we drive home. I looked like a bit of an inventor. I went want to know, what is the absolute
deliver my 35 jars, Mum delivers hers. around to see him and he ended up most important thing in goal setting
I go back to the flat and wait by the designing me the chocolate crunchers. - write your goals down, and put
phone, having no idea whether these At the same time, he became my a date to them. The difference,
things are going to sell. At 3pm that mentor. I was 21, he was 65. between a written goal and one in
day the phone started ringing - all your mind, is night and day. In your
these outlets had completely sold out. He introduced me to a goal setting head, it’s an intangible thought that’s
They were asking for more. And so it program called the Dynamics not measurable, but the minute it’s
went on for the next six months. of Motivation. We talked about on paper, it is into the world.
That December, my younger brother tend to diet more to look good on the him. We worked and lived together
Guy comes back from Massey Uni for beach, they’re also on holiday and away, for at least a year. We were literally
his summer break, where he’s been and also, schools and takeaway bars working, eating, sleeping. But it was
doing business studies. Sales have completely close down. That inspired heaps of fun, and we were on fire.
suddenly, for no apparent reason, us to come up with Christmas Cookies, We were making tons of mistakes
slowed. A lot. So I sit down with Guy which has gone on to be one of the and having lots of successes too.
and he has a look at it, and for me, it’s most successful products. The reason Guy and I are a very complementary
just so nice to be able to share this we succeed is because we try so many partnership. It’s one of the biggest
stuff with someone - someone to just things that don’t work. It’s a numbers factors in the success of the company
talk about this stuff with. game, just like selling encyclopedias. - I’ve basically got my head in the
clouds, he’s got his feet on the
It took a few years for us to figure it So Guy just loves the practical side of ground. I’m the accelerator, he’s got
out why sales dropped over summer. business so much and I loved having his foot on the brake.
Eventually we realised that people
This business has been going 27 years. I was a bit tired of cookies. One of the to work towards, so that nobody in
Guy and I have been working out of best things was getting out for those the company gets bored. You just have
a home office for 20 of those years. two or three years, because it allowed to have something that you’re excited
We’ve both been one step removed me to come back into the business with about. In business, you always have to
- we’re not in there everyday. There renewed passion and enthusiasm. be aiming for the next rung up: if you
have been times where we have had want to be a really big local brand, you
to take an office in town, and get into We’re about to open our first retail need to be a national brand in NZ. If you
the business again. Yet working from cookie store in Queenstown: an want to be a national brand in NZ, you
home means that we’re in a separate immersion experience, with a cookie need to aim to be a global brand. Say, if
headspace, and it’s a better place to bar where people can go order fresh you move into Australia, you’re forced
work on, not in, the business. cookies; with NZ music playing; and to look at things differently; then you
touch screens; the whole deal. We come back to NZ with different ideas
At one point, I wanted to get out basically want to take Cookie Time that make your NZ ideas better. That
of Cookie Time and do something global and are looking for a strategy to new landscape means a new way of
different, partly because after 15 years, do so. You need an inspirational goal looking at things.
1. Entrepreneurs are not always 5. A business opportunity isn’t 12. It’s vital to set your vision
the best managers. just about building something; and be true to it.
2. It can surprise you how long it it’s also about selling it. 13. Working on the business
takes your competitors to react. 6. “What other people think of is essential.
3. It really helps any business you is none of your business.” 14. “What makes you successful
to have a trained outsider 7. “Professionals get paid now may be the thing that
looking at your numbers and to Practice.” holds you back in the future.”
opportunities, who can say to 8. A recipe for success: Pay 15. “If each of us hires people
you, “Stop doing this activity, attention. Make a plan. Be who are smaller than we are,
it’s not making money - do disciplined. Never give up. we shall become a company of
this instead.” 9. Read a lot. dwarfs. But if each of us hires
4. Making useful connections 10. Welcome outside advice and people who are bigger than we
between people and introducing constantly seek it out. are, we shall become a company
them to one another is a great 11. Know that managing growth of giants.” – David Ogilvy
way to build your network. is a constant challenge.
16. Finding the mentor that you 18. If your business is stuck then 21. The trap with a small business
need specifically to help the pay somebody to get it unstuck. is that you want and sometimes
business, means defining If you can’t afford that then try to do everything yourself but
what complementary skill- borrow some money - or give you learn quickly enough that
set you want. away a percentage of your you can’t.
17. Acknowledge what you’re business. It’s better to do that, 22. Celebrate the skills you
not good at, read books or than to fail massively. have, and ask for help with
get people in the business, 19. Preparation, planning and self what you lack.
and surround yourself by belief are critical to success. 23. You can’t be afraid to ask for
people who can help you to 20. Self-belief and confidence have advice from those who know a
fix that weakness. been very important, as the certain area better than you.
business has progressed. 24. Do not let the knock-backs
get you down.
25. You have to get to a certain size 28. There are things in life that 32. It’s more fun and interesting to
of things to be able to justify don’t always work out at the chase your grandest vision than
that extra spend on an employee time when you take them in, to chase the one that seems
- and it can be just a growing but then you get in a better most achievable.
phase - figuring out what position, and find someone or 33. Decide what you’re going to do,
takes up most of that time, and a situation that’s better suited. stick to your core business, and
figuring out how to get someone 29. Social media tools are a try and be the best at it.
else to do it. huge opportunity to market 34. The key to any business is
26. A lot of building a business is the brand. relationships and building
about getting out and learning 30. The more brains you can throw relationships.
along the way. at a problem, the better. 35. A reputation takes a long
27. Brand is really, really important. 31. Saying no often creates more time to build up, and just five
opportunities than saying yes. minutes to lose.
36. You’ve got to have great levels 39. Reflection time is crucial, to take 45. If you want to reach your
of discipline and passion, any business to the next level. goals, write them down,
amongst other things, to grow 40. Reinvention is healthy. and put a date to them.
a business to that next level. 41. The people who drive the 46. Working from home,
37. If we as women can remove business need to be the away from the business,
ourselves from the emotion main focus. means that you are in a
and think in a more black and 42. Mix creative marketing with better headspace to work
white way, we can become solid strategic thinking. on, not in, the business.
more effective in both life 43. Mistakes are routes to learning. 47. You need an inspirational
and business. 44. Whether it is franchisees, goal to work towards,
38. Getting things done relies suppliers or customer - you need so that nobody in the
on one thing: incredibly to treat them right – business is company gets bored.
good discipline. not just about the dollars.
Those we’ve featured all share the growing your business means We at Capability NZ hope that this
desire to create great businesses. realizing this: someday, to some book is just the start, and would
And we at CapabilityNZ share that extent, starts today. like to partner with you on the
desire and are focused on journey from here.
accelerating your progress. The journey does not just magically
unravel as we dream it to be - it
The “capability journey” is just requires action right now. It
another way of talking about demands allocation of resources,
business success– but essentially, work, and planning, right now.
we would like to thank our partners...
Business New Zealand
Economic Development Agencies of New Zealand
New Zealand Business Excellence Foundation
New Zealand Chambers of Commerce
New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants
New Zealand Institute of Management
Where to from here?
You run a small business. You want to grow,
so let’s turn a long-term plan into a short-term reality.
This resource covers 14 Kiwi business owners – from the little-known to the well-known (Hell’s
Pizza, Cookie Time) – and mixes their real-world Kiwi experiences with leading global business
thinking - the E-myth revisited (Michael Gerber), Good to Great (Jim Collins), the 7 Habits of
Highly Effective Companies (Stephen Covey), and Peter Drucker.
We hope to motivate and inspire small businesses to spend more time on their business, not
just in their business; so that their business capability improves – by telling the positive stories
of great Kiwi businesses, and how their founders grew them to be what they are today.