In partnership with BNZ
Through our partnership with BNZ, we have been lucky enough to talk to so many amazing wāhine about how to start your own business. This is our master guide of advice from these entrepreneurs about how to turn a dream into a reality, how to run a business, and the best advice they’ve learned along the way.
So you want to start a business?
Creating a plan, engaging a bank, staying true to your vision, and starting a side hustle.
“First of all, you’ve got to have a dream and really believe in the dream. Then you have to have a plan to bring that to life. And then, whatever you think it’s going to cost, know that it’s going to cost at least twice as much as you think it’s going to, it’ll take twice as long as you think, and be 10 times more complex! But humans are resilient and can do more than we think.” Helen Robinson, ONZM. CEO, Director and founding partner of Organic Initiative (Oi).
“Directors love telling you what they do and why they’re passionate about it, and that gives you a good understanding about where their money is coming from and where they want to go. Because you don’t know what you don’t know, that discovery conversation will often tease out a lot of pieces.” Anna Soons, Transactions Solutions Specialist at BNZ.
“When I first started, I had people tell me that the business wouldn’t go far because it had a Māori name. That was disheartening to hear. I was also told ‘you’re just going to be a Māori brand, you’re just going to cater to Māori women.’ But that wasn’t my vision. And today I show proof of that, because our customer base is so massive, across ethnicities, cultures, and age groups.” Miria Flavell, Founder and CEO of Hine Collection.
“Oh, leaving a cushy job to take that step into the great unknown is terrifying… I just figured, if it doesn’t work, I’ll go back to being an accountant, no harm, no foul. But I just knew it would work, you know? We’d been working on the brand in the evenings and on the weekends, and we’d gone to a few farmers markets and the like, so I had the confidence in the plan already.” Heilala Vanilla, Director, Jennifer Boggiss.
“A business plan sets you up well and ensures that you’re all on the same page, if you’re part of a team. What’s your purpose? Where are you going, short term and long term? Who are your customers, what are your products, how are you going to achieve that? As a business banker, what I really love to see – especially if we’re lending money – is forecasting cash flow… because that keeps you on track.” Courtney Manning, Business Partner at BNZ.
Capsule says: “Whether it’s an idea you’ve had tinkering away for months, or it’s an idea that’s sprung up from very recent circumstances, there is never going to be a perfect time to take the plunge. But if you’ve got a good idea, good people and good experience in your field, you’ll already know more than you think you do – including where the gaps in the market are and why you’re best suited to help fill them.
“Our plan-to-action stage of starting Capsule was only around six weeks, but between us we had over 40 years in the industry and knew who we could turn to for trusted advice. The key step for us was getting professional advice on the financial side of a business, because the creative side was an easier arena for us to get started in.”
How to run a business in a smart and whole-hearted way
Taking yourself seriously, hire people who think differently, create a community, and then value that community’s feedback.
“[My business coach] taught me that if you don’t start paying yourself and you don’t commit to an office early on and get into a professional space, your business would never grow past those ceilings. I don’t know how it works, but it works, and you feel more legit, as opposed to being just ‘a hobbyist’ at home, who’s trying to charge something.” Kirsty Harkness, Serial entrepreneur and Founder of Hark & Zander.
“One of the founding principles of Dexibit is that friction polishes the stone. When everybody thinks the same way and drinks the same cordial, you get bad ideas and bad decisions. When you’ve got a diverse group of people who all bring different thoughts and ideas to the table, you get a much better result. A diversity of gender, background, ethnicity, age, of walks of life… all those things are important to achieving that result.” Angie Judge, Dexibit, Founder.
“Hine is definitely a community brand; I feel like that’s really our point of difference… Early on, the people in that community trusted each other – they could trust me, they could trust the brand, because we were real people who were talking to them and engaging with them. After a year, we could step back and watch the community engage with each other. Girls would see another girl wearing Hine and be like ‘Oh my god!’ there was that instant connection.” Miria Flavell, Founder and CEO of Hine Collection.
“When we started The Curve, we had a plan in place of what we thought it would be and what we thought it would look like and it’s so different in terms of the services we offer. A podcast was never in the pipeline from the beginning but once we started doing that, it was hugely successful… We really have listened to what our community wants; they’re really good at giving us positive and negative feedback about topics they want to learn about and how they want to digest the content.” Victoria Harris, Co-Founder and Head of Finance for The Curve.
Capsule says: “Between our social media platforms, our newsletter, the website, and email, we have multiple avenues where our readers tell us what we’re getting right – and what we’re getting wrong. Plus, we’ve all been living through the same pandemic at the same time, so the Capsule team and the Capsule readers are often in the same emotional boat. This is a real privilege – and a rare experience. You have to love your community as well as respect them; that way you keep wanting to do your best for them.”
The biggest lessons from staying in business
Fear as a motivator, valuing your worth, and knowing there’s never, ever a time limit on making a big career change.
“[When I lost my job] I thought, what am I going to do? No one is going to be hiring the jobs that I do, and everyone who had them would hold onto them. This is all I’ve done since university. That first lockdown was an emotional cluster to be honest. But then I thought, why not try to pull the things you’re doing together and form a business around it? So Brodie Kane Media was formed in July last year. Some days it’s amazing, some days it’s terrifying. But it’s mine.” Brodie Kane, CEO and Founder of Brodie Kane Media.
“With [my] photography business, at the beginning I was charging a certain price and I was so busy. I thought, ‘if I double my price, I’ll half my clients… but I’ll still have the same amount of money coming. So, I doubled the price and the workload went up. So, I added another 50% and it went up again. I remember saying to one of my clients, ‘why would you pay this amount for me?’ and they said, ‘Well, you’re obviously good.’ If you charge cheaply, people are going to think it’s cheap. This is where women often struggle to value ourselves too.” Kirsty Harkness, Serial entrepreneur and Founder of Hark & Zander.
“I bypassed the whole university experience and didn’t get to university until I was 40. I look back and, at 35, I’d never stood on a stage. I’d never been a spokesperson for anything. I’d gone around living my life as an employee or having little tactical side hustles, but I’d never thought I’d been about being an entrepreneur because of my confidence… When I went into education, I realised that I had all the ingredients to become a leader. You can literally reinvent yourself completely; you can decide to walk away from your career and start something new.” Frances Valintine, CEO and Founder of The Mind Lab and Tech Futures Lab.
Capsule says: “If there is one thing that we have learned from all of these interviews, it’s that all of these business owners are passionate about staying flexible and continuing to learn about their chosen field. None of them feel like they have nothing left to learn or experience, or that they are the master at their craft. Curiosity counts for a lot – and it can count for more than confidence, as well. You might feel curious about your business long before you feel confident in it – but that’s part of the fun. Curiosity can take you a long, long way.”
This article is only for your information. It’s not professional advice (financial, legal, or otherwise) and can’t be relied upon. If you do use or rely on it, then no one, including BNZ, is liable for any resulting losses (both direct and indirect). Opinions may not be the same as BNZ (or anyone else). For help, please contact BNZ or your professional advisor.