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Business Mentors: Behind Every Successful Venture is a Great Mentor

Few people successful in business would ever claim that they got there with no help, guidance, or even advice.

Richard RamMost businesspeople benefit from the helping hand of others. People who have been in their shoes and this can come in the form of strategy, or even a pep talk when they need it the most.

This is what mentorship is about and those on the receiving end benefit from experience and a fresh set of eyes over their business. Mentors give their time and energy because as one American CEO put it, they believe in the three ‘P’s’ of success: people, purpose, and passion.

CEDA partners with Business Mentors New Zealand to connect business owners and entrepreneurs with those who can provide one-on-one advice to help them to start, grow or to solve business challenges. Especially businesses affected by COVID-19, where owners or managers need support and guidance to help them move forward.

The importance of mentors in growing our business community is shown in one such professional relationship. Mentor Richard Ram, who has two decades of experience across digital design, marketing and management, describes his mentees, Alex Tully and Scott Cameron as smart bright young people focused on an innovative peer-to-peer business.

Launched in November 2019, gearhub.co.nz is a trading platform for farm equipment allowing farmers to make money out of under-used equipment.

“They're putting a lot of effort into what they're doing,” Richard Ram says.

“From a mentor’s perspective, they know what they need advice on and are not afraid to ask, which I think is important.”

“They have identified that farmers hold assets that don’t generate anywhere near the value that the asset represents. It is a completely new peer-to-peer niche they’ve identified and worked hard to realise.”

Scott Cameron is in no doubt over the importance of working with a business mentor.

“If you're serious about your business, or your idea, then you absolutely need a business mentor because you don't know what you don't know. If you can link up with people who have been there and done it, then they will know the quick wins and mistakes people running young companies make.

“You can save a fortune and speed your progress up because you are not unwisely investing your time,” Scott says.

Mentors often conduct confidential business assessments from which an action and implementation plan is agreed. This can help to reshape businesses as was the case with gearhub.co.nz.

“Getting a business mentor is a no-brainer as the initial input of entrepreneur, Michael Voss helped us to frame our niche and that was agriculture,” Scott continues.

“It might have been a couple hundred dollars, but it was Alex my partner who said that if we are going to invest in this business seriously, then we needed the guidance a mentor brings.

“We’ve found Richard Ram to be really generous with his time. We appreciate how we just email him a bunch of thoughts and he critiques them before sending them back to us. We respect that he’s putting a lot of effort into our business.

“I think it's a pretty good working relationship and Richard puts in a lot,” Scott said.

Richard Ram found his way into business mentoring via the Manawatū Chamber of Commerce, which delivers the Business Mentors New Zealand programme on behalf of CEDA.

“I attended an introductory meet and greet and from there, the Chamber thought I could add value helping businesses and startups. I guess it comes from being on the ground floor of the internet age here and abroad.

“I cut my teeth at the former TelecomXtra when it dominated the digital market space. I have worked on large accounts like TourismNZ, the Herald, and ASB, and this has driven me to focus on the challenges and opportunities for business over how digital channels can help them.

“That makes my involvement with Scott and Alex so good,” Richard says.

Scott and Alex, who both hold down full-time jobs, found out about the mentoring programme after attending one of CEDA’s Startup Workshops where business mentoring was described as the next step.

“It helped us make sure that we were on the right path because it’s a waste of time otherwise. We were initially connected to Business Mentor, Michael Voss, who helped us to create the business structure while Richard Ram followed up with the marketing,” Scott says.

This is a point that Richard Ram picks up on.

“The interesting thing with Scott and Alex is that we've focused on the customer lifecycle. Just how do you attract the customer and convert them into a paying customer, especially given it’s a completely new peer-to-peer rental leasing business.

“That conversion of potential into paying customers is a challenge all businesses face,” Richard concluded.

To register for a Business Mentor

Businesses can register for a business mentoring programme on the Business Mentors New Zealand website. To access the service, you will pay a one-off registration fee of $295 plus GST. After registration, the service is free for up to 12 months.

To volunteer as a Business Mentor

Business mentoring can help to turn businesses and lives around. If you have owned your own business or worked in business for several years, then it is likely that your skills and expertise could be beneficial to another business. Help less experienced business owners and entrepreneurs to navigate the uncharted waters of business by registering to become a business mentor here.

If you're looking to grow your business, CEDA can help

This was published in the Success Stories newsletter on September 18, 2020. Sign up here to receive our newsletters directly

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