Jane Ward-Able was a woman with lots of ideas for her business, Blue Baobab New Zealand.
The small, Tauranga-based business imports and sells bespoke, sustainable gumboots from South Africa for women who want something a bit more stylish than the classic Red Bands.
As well as ideas of where she wanted to take the business, Jane was getting flooded with exciting opportunities, including enquiries from retailers, wholesalers, events and expos. As a mother of two, who was looking to run a successful business, but wanting to keep it manageable so it didn’t take her away from the family, Jane needed someone to listen to her ideas and give her some focus.
After becoming a member of the Tauranga Business Chamber, she saw the Chamber offered one-hour free business advice sessions and booked in with the Chamber’s business advisor Derek.
“While I have the support of my family, I’m a single business owner – I don’t have a business partner – so I thought this would be good to have someone to bounce all my ideas off, to consolidate and get some direction. Sometimes you can get overwhelmed by the options when you’re on your own!”
Jane admits she was nervous booking in with Derek – what if he thought her business was a bad idea, or felt she didn’t know anything and wouldn’t be a good business owner? But as soon as the session started, he put her at ease.
“Derek was lovely. He was so easy to talk to and so encouraging. Most of what I had been doing I was winging it. I have no formal qualifications in business and no real experience, but he was very complimentary and gave me reassurance I was on the right track.
“It’s easy to doubt yourself, but in speaking to him, he confirmed I had a good idea and I do actually have a business.”
During the session, Derek shared that he was impressed with Jane’s social media work and the professional look and feel it portrayed. He reviewed her price point for the products, and helped her focus on how she could keep the business to a manageable size, while preparing to get enough stock in for the expos and events that are coming up in spring (such as Fieldays).
To help give Jane confidence going forward, Derek also pointed her in the direction of a 12-week Start Up NZ Entrepreneurs Programme, which is accessed through Business Mentors NZ.
“He said this would really hone in on things I am unsure about and arm me with extra business knowledge to feel secure in my decision making. As part of this, I’m also contemplating getting a business mentor to have that guidance long term.”
For anyone thinking about getting business advice for their idea or start-up, Jane says she “absolutely recommends it”.
“Don’t delay – I made a lot of mistakes and changed my path a lot in the early stages, and perhaps if I spoke to Derek sooner, I could have saved myself lots of time and effort.”