If there is anything that running a small business teaches you, it’s how much there always is to learn.
In that spirit, we’re marking International Women’s Day by asking six leading New Zealand female entrepreneurs to share with us the advice that has helped animate their business success.
1. Believe that you belong
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Kaiwhakahaere (CEO) Hiria Te Rangi says the most powerful piece of advice she received came from former boss, Jay Daley.
“When I started out, I was always of the mindset that I wasn’t meant to be in certain places. There was a lot of impostor syndrome,” she says.
“I was given the chance to be part of a particular high-tech program and I said to Jay, ‘I don’t think this is really for me, I think there are better people who deserve to be here more’.
“He said, ‘You have as much right to be there as anyone else, even more because they actually asked you and everyone else had to apply’.”
Rangi says she took this advice with her into her new venture.
“When I go into a boardroom, I keep that mindset; that I’m meant to be there, that people are literally waiting to help me,” she says.
“Think better of yourself and just get it done.”
2. Sustain the pace
HR and recruitment tech guru Dale Clareburt co-founded Weirdly to help recruiters find people who’re the right fit for their companies. For her, the best piece of advice is simple but vital.
“Business is a marathon, not a sprint,” she says.
“You start out with enormous amounts of enthusiasm and a little bit of naivety, which isn’t such a bad thing, but you need to prepare your business and yourself for the fact that you’re going into a marathon.
“It’s alright to have bursts of sprinting but it’s important to have downtime as well, so you can keep going in the long run.”
Clareburt adds that when it comes to advice, when you receive it can be just as important as what it is.
“I’ve been given advice and thought, ‘That doesn’t help me now,’ but in a year’s time it does,” she says.
“If you’re not ready to receive that information, you won’t hear it because it’s not relevant at the time.”
3. Back yourself
At just 19, serial entrepreneur Brianne West started her first natural cosmetics business and ran it successfully for five years. Next cab off the rank was a confectionary company.
Then, in 2012, she founded Ethique. The company produces vegan beauty products that come in solid bar form, using no plastic packaging, formaldehyde, sodium lauryl sulphate or water, and are shipped to customers around the world.
West’s favourite piece of business advice?
“Don’t discount your opinion and gut feeling just because someone else who may have more experience thinks differently,” she says.
“It’s important to back and believe in yourself and your abilities.”
4. Embrace the discomfort
Frustrated by the knowledge that many people felt locked out of the share market, Sonya Williams and her colleague Brooke Roberts launched Sharesies. It’s an online investment platform that makes it easy for people with as little as $20 to invest in shares and gain access to invaluable investment advice from people in the know.
She says the best advice she ever received was some that came from more than just one person.
“It’s to get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable,” she says.
“It’s about understanding that the path you’re on is completely unknown, so make sure the vision you have is big enough and be brave enough to go for it.
“You see a need in the market – in this case it was that investing wasn’t a level playing field – and you wonder how you’re going to solve that problem, should I go harder, should I quit my day job now? Believe you can be the one who can make change, feel the discomfort and do it anyway.”
5. Take the first step
Maru Nihoniho designs, writes and develops video games, founding Metia Interactive in 2003 to tell video stories with important learning objectives. One of these is SPARX, a 3D animated mobile app that gives young people skills to overcome depression and anxiety.
“When I first started off on this adventure of game development, I was really excited about it but then the doubt phase came in. ‘How will I make it work? Can I make it work?’” she says.
“At that time, the best piece of advice I had was from my mum.
“She said, ‘You won’t know until you try. If you don’t even make that first step forward, how are you ever going to get anywhere?’”
Nihoniho also frequently calls on another piece of advice – don’t overthink things.
“Keep your goals clear and work out the steps towards them,” she says.
“When you’ve ticked off one step, go to the next one. It helps me to think clearly and focus on the goal, rather than all the little pieces.
“I use that advice in everything I do in my business. I mentally lay out my plan in my head, get it on paper and then I follow the plan. And before you know it, I’m there.”
6. Know when to reach out
Hospitality maven Mimi Gilmour Buckley’s restaurant, Burger Burger, was a runaway success from the moment it opened its doors in 2014. Her commitment to keeping the prices low, the burgers scrumptious, the music pumping and the ingredients ethical saw her serve 160,000 people from her first location in Ponsonby, in the very first year. Burger Burger now has a presence in five locations across New Zealand.
The number-one piece of business advice she’s received on her journey?
“Understand where your strengths lie and don’t be afraid to ask for help in the areas that you’re not as strong,” she says.
“Because at the end of the day, it will save you money, time and energy – the three things that none of us ever has enough of.”
- Believe that you deserve the opportunities that come your way.
- Business is a marathon, not a sprint, so give yourself the downtime you need to stay strong.
- Having less experience than someone else doesn’t automatically mean they’re right. Know when to back yourself.
- Get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.
- You’ll never know where a path can lead unless you take the first step.
- Don’t be shy about asking for help – it’ll save you money, time and energy.
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