Success Stories & Testimonials

Victorian perfumes a hit with cruise ship tourists in Wellington

Fragrifert Parfumeur owner Francesco van Eerd, who is based in the Wellington Skyline, is doubling the size of his premises after becoming a hit with cruise ship tourists.

Read the article from Stuff.co.nz here.

Thinking beyond the box

Angela Sefton has merged a passion for art and photography with a love of vintage art.

With help from a business mentor, she’s taking her gallery to the world. Angela’s business, Black Box Art Studio & Gallery, comprises a gallery – in both physical and online formats, as well as art creation and a selection of original restored vintage New Zealand art and collectables under the Fantail Collection brand.

Click here to read more

Firm in pole position

A Tauranga fruit marketing company has been awarded more export licences to distribute kiwifruit to Australia and avocados to parts of South East Asia, as well as Australia — a feat it credits to using Business Mentors New Zealand.

The Pole to Pole group picks, packs, distributes and markets fruit for several hundred growers across the country. Founder Todd Abrahams, who started the business 11 years ago, said demand for New Zealand fruit domestically and overseas was at record levels.

“Pole to Pole has grown a lot in the past couple of years and confidence across the industry is high — but we need to ensure we have the supply available to meet the demand.”

It was currently looking for more suppliers to come on board. The 42-year-old attributes much of the company’s recent growth to the hard work of his team and business mentor Cliff Osborne. Mr Osborne was a volunteer for Business Mentors New Zealand, a not-for-profit organisation that provides guidance and support to SMEs looking to succeed. The pair first met 18 months ago.

“Cliff was able to take a look at our business, offer his advice and act as a sounding board for our ideas and growth plans. He was an invaluable second pair of eyes and was able to ensure we had a lot of the basics up to scratch to deal with the growth we were planning for. That growth means we now need more suppliers in place to help ensure we can sustain it—it’s a great place to be in.”

Mr Osborne had worked as a strategic planning and leadership consultant for large firms across the world and has been mentoring small and medium sized businesses in the Bay of Plenty region since 2003. It was his way of giving back to the community, he said.

“No matter the business or its size, the fundamentals of business remain the same—they all want to be agile and to thrive,” he said.

“Being a business mentor means I can use the experience I’ve picked up working with some of the biggest firms in the world and apply it to support small businesses locally.

“Pole to Pole Fresh is a growing business with a lot of potential. Todd and the team’s ambition is impressive.”

Pole to Pole Fresh acts as a route to market for suppliers growing avocados, kiwifruit, passionfruit, feijoas, tamarillos and citrus fruits.

A healthy and safer approach to starting a new business venture

Susan Rhodes knows her stuff when it comes to health and safety. She has been a health and safety consultant for 15 years and her business, Smart Safety Solutions, has provided advice and support to a wide range of companies.

With huge legislative changes sweeping New Zealand’s business environment after the Pike River Mine disaster, companies are increasingly being asked to set in place improvements in health and safety in all workplaces.

In this environment, Susan saw an unfulfilled need for an online tool or ‘app’ for contractor induction and management. The problem? Though her knowledge of health and safety in the workplace is extensive, Susan had never developed software and had no clear idea where to start.

“So I had my idea, now I needed a sounding board to refine it into a product and to know if it was going to be viable.

This is where Business Mentors New Zealand enters the story.

“I needed someone who could take an objective look at what I was proposing and to ask the right questions. I was aware of Business Mentors and they were really my first point of contact when I looked for help with this project,” she said.

Susan made contact using the Business Mentors website and things quickly took shape. Mentor Paul Petersen began working with her to test and validate the idea.

“I needed a sounding board to refine the idea. In a general way I knew what was needed but didn’t know how to make it happen. I needed help to engage some expert software development,” she said.

Paul took her through a ‘lean start-up’ process which required her to step outside her comfort zone as part of a process of validating the idea.

“It made me consider many things I hadn’t thought about. Things like going out and talking to people in business – finding out what they want in Health and Safety and how much they are prepared to pay for such a product. The process forces you to own every aspect of your idea.”

Through the process, Susan was also working in her business full time and catching up with Paul over breakfast for regular update meetings.

Mentor Paul Petersen’s business background equipped him well to help Susan progress her idea toward a finished product. He owned a logistics company for 12 years, later consulting and then establishing a sales assessment, recruiting and training company.

He joined Business Mentors’ ranks of volunteer mentors two years ago.

Paul says the start-up mentoring process helps people understand what they need to do to move from their ‘great idea’ to a fully functioning business or product.

“In my view a start-up is not a business, it’s an idea looking for validation. Susan needed to test her idea with clients and establish the steps needed to make the idea reality. I was delighted to help her complete that journey.”

Through the mentoring process Susan was able to confirm her target market, understand product development process and find the right expert help to create her product.

“It isn’t possible to be an expert in everything. The key to being successful in this was to find the right help to create the finished product, and to understand how the sales process would work. These things were challenging and development took more time than I had expected, but I think that is part of every great idea.”

Susan says the process has been immensely valuable. Her advice to others considering similar ventures: take hold of the fear, go out of your comfort zone and push ahead.

Vet Centre well set for growth with help of business mentor

Rangiora Vet Centre is a mixed veterinary practice that has been serving North Canterbury’s animal health needs for over 50 years.

Lifestyle block conversion, dairy conversion and population growth after the Canterbury earthquakes were the main drivers for a period of accelerated growth in the business.The practice employs 45 people, operates from two locations and having recently opened a new state-of the-art clinic the owners appointed Chris Bailey to a new role of Business Manager in mid-2014.

As the first business manager appointed in the practice Chris had some key initiatives to put in place to enable the expanding business to continue moving forward on a sure footing. He sought advice from Business Mentors New Zealand and was matched with volunteer business mentor Roelant Hofmans.

“I was growing into my new role and wanted someone to challenge my thinking and support me while we tackled some new initiatives,” Chris said.

“We were working on our capabilities in four key areas - our financial controls, implementing our strategic plan, building our online presence and our inventory management – and Roelant’s experience meant he was the perfect match for me as a mentor.”

Roelant Hofmans is a business owner and management consultant with a background in Insurance, Finance, Supply Chain Management and IT both locally and internationally. Having also been a franchisee for a number of years and now the principal of a business providing back office services he brings huge experience and empathy to the mentoring of business people in Canterbury.

“In many ways Chris represented my version of an ideal mentee. He recognised he needed some help, was willing to listen and get different perspectives, and could see the value in getting some independent advice,” said Roelant.

“Chris was open to challenge and open to new ideas and my background was well suited to help him tackle what he was facing in his new role.”

Roelant says business mentoring gives him the opportunity to put something back into the Christchurch economy and he likes to do voluntary work.

“I’ve seen Chris become more secure in his role and clearer in his focus on what needs to be done. He’s able to stand back and look at the business from a different angle to summarise what’s going on.”

Chris says he and Roelant would meet every three to four weeks, usually in a café where they’d discuss an area of the business of Chris’ choosing.

“Roelant was super supportive and I think his nature was a key part of what made the relationship successful. My experience of business mentoring was absolutely first class.”

“I can’t believe New Zealand businesses have access to this service at such an affordable cost,” said Chris.

SEO company

Having a mentor supported Pure SEO founder Richard Conway while he captured a gap in the New Zealand market for search engine optimisation.

Richard Conway started Pure SEO in 2009 after moving to New Zealand from the UK with his wife. He saw a gap in the market, but he didn’t know anyone in New Zealand. He joined several networking groups to get connected which he said was “difficult at first but became easier”.

Six months later he decided to get a business mentor and contacted Kerry Carr at the Auckland Central office of Business Mentors New Zealand. His first mentor focused on making connections and marketing the business, but Richard got to the point where he needed some strategic and financial guidance.

“There have been points where I looked at acquisition or selling part of the business so having opinions on that is helpful,” he said.

His second and current mentor is Matthew Abel who is a consultant in public financial management and spends time working on aid projects in the Pacific and developing countries – projects related to small business development or financial management in government.

The relationship with his mentor has evolved from Matthew giving his opinion and advice – particularly speaking from his experience – to now a more level relationship where Matthew acts as a sounding board for ideas.

“I value his opinion. Having a mentor has definitely helped me. Often it doesn’t need to be anything more than clarifying something in my mind – crystallising it.

“Having a business mentor helps with personal times too. I would consider Matthew a friend now,” said Richard. Matthew Abel became a mentor because of his interest in business. He said he enjoys learning about businesses – the successes they have and the challenges they face.

“As a mentor, I go and see the needs for the individual business and see how they can be addressed,” he said.

Pure SEO’s business has grown remarkably over the past few years. Mentor Matthew acknowledges that Richard Conway is one of the most successful business owners he has mentored. And he says that having someone to talk to outside the business is something that is really valued particularly in smaller businesses.

“With any business owner sometimes they have a big problem they can’t share with staff or they are worried about the future of the business but cannot talk to staff about it, so to have a mentor to bounce ideas off helps them clarify the solution.

“Richard gets on well with his accountant and other people. He seeks advice from other people, which is good. Often people don’t have someone they feel they can discuss the books with, or they don’t want to have to pay for the time of a professional.

“Mentoring helps you to link into a network, and along with joining the Chamber gives you an idea about the local environment, about business and exposure to new ideas. A bigger business might have its own board of directors or its own established network but it is more of a challenge for smaller businesses,” said Matthew.

Richard and Matthew meet every 3 months now, but initially it was more frequent.

“Once you know the business there is not much more you need to see. I am hoping to see the action plans for the Pure SEO business for the next 3-6 months next time we meet,” Matthew said.

When Richard Conway started the business there were just 12 or 13 employees. Now Pure SEO has 180 clients in a range of industries including Fletcher Building, Subaru, and The Heart Foundation. The business has grown largely through word of mouth and the success of the last couple of years has culminated in winning the New Zealand competition for the “Google All Stars” in July this year.

And a visit to the GooglePlex in San Francisco – a career highlight for Richard.

MTF increase efficiency with help of mentor

Having a business mentor on hand allowed MTF Greenlane to be more efficient, to grow faster and to beat the competition according to operations manager Gerrie Cashmore.

“Our mentor focussed us on the essential things that needed to be done, but across all areas of the business. That encompassed everything from financial analysis to marketing.

“The focus enabled us to grow faster, to be more precise with identifying actions and outcomes and to achieve measurable targets,” she says.

Gerrie and her family bought the motor vehicle finance franchise in February 2013, one of two in the competitive Central Auckland region. Gerrie’s father-in-law and owner Warrick Cashmore had always been in the motor vehicle industry, and knew he had bought at a time when the competition was strong.

Chris Reid, their newly appointed business mentor and owner of business consultancy The Business Engine, immediately identified from their company’s financials that they needed to grow fast to cover the extra overheads and fixed costs. In addition, much of the business was coming from car dealers, which was not qualified lending and there was also a commission to pay.

“We have a sign above the microwave at work that says ‘If it looks marginal and sounds marginal, it probably is marginal, so don’t write bad debt’ “says Gerrie.

With Chris’ support, the new strategy was to get more customers, and to get them directly – not through third parties. In the first year MTF Greenlane traded at a profit. Although it still had significant overheads, it had also increased volume, attracted better customers and reduced risk from repossessions. Gerrie is quick to confirm that their relationship with car dealers is an important element of the business however the quality of the lending has improved. With the volume of business under the bonnet, they can be more selective about the dealer business they take and can make better credit decisions.

‘These may seem like simple decisions or changes, but it really does take the comfort and assurance of access to a knowledgeable third party advisor, to be confident in actually taking the first steps toward change,” says Gerrie.

By May 2014 MTF Greenlane celebrated making the top spot as number one franchise in New Zealand. “With the help of our business mentor we had the bricks in place and a strong platform for growth. And we were clear about who was our “right kind of customer.”

Says Gerrie, “It is really nice to be in the situation now where we can turn down a loan – so as we move forward the overall business risk is depleting because we are able to say no to riskier decisions.” MTF Greenlane also decided to join Auckland Chamber of Commerce. Mentor Chris encouraged them to participate in Chamber activities.

“Join the Chamber, but if you sit back and do nothing you won’t get the results. You’ve got to let it work for you. For example at a Ba5 networking event you may meet someone who will introduce you to someone who you will do business with later on,” he said. MTF have optimised their Chamber membership.

“We have used Chamber Direct Mail Out service, attended Speed Networking and Business Club and also took part in the Table-Top Expo at Business Club where we obtained some business leads and good contacts for the future,” says Gerrie.

They have utilised savings with alliance partners Mercury Energy and Z and have employed staff using the Employment service offered by the Chamber. All of this has helped with cost cutting and reducing their overheads. The mentoring relationship Chris had been based in the Auckland Chamber of Commerce building, running a business which he sold in March 2013.

As he was leaving the building, Business Mentors Agency Manager Kerry Carr invited him into her office and suggested he become a mentor. Since Chris had stopped working and had a small consultancy business to run he was happy to do mentoring.

Says Kerry, “A great mentor is someone who has been involved in business and can take an overview of business. They make sure any gaps they see are immediately addressed.”

In March 2013 an obvious match was made with the Cashmore’s MTF Greenlane business. Chris’s background in the corporate world and transport industry made him a good fit for the business. Despite not having worked in the motor vehicle industry he says,

“Often the issues are generic no matter what the business, and specific industry knowledge is also useful.” Chris enjoys helping business people plan.

“There are a huge number of people in business who don’t have much of a plan. A lot of a business success comes down to a decent plan, measurement, financials and strategizing to make the business grow. Often people feel they are too busy to prioritise this.”

“I mentor ten to twelve businesses at the moment. With MTF, it’s nice to be associated with people who are positive and happy to see you. It’s great to see the results if their efforts off all around the place. Mentoring is absolutely about monitoring activity and keeping an eye on the ball.”

“What is the point of having the expertise of a mentor if you are not going to implement it,” says Gerrie. She points out that when Chris suggested implementing KPI’s to monitor progress, she did it – without question. Why should businesses have a mentor?

“A mentor can offer up their network,” says Gerrie who was pleased to be referred to some of Chris’s business contacts, which she said gave her confidence.

“A mentor is someone to challenge what you are doing. To ensure that even if you think you know it all, they are a fresh set of eyes that can see things you cannot see yourself,” says Chris. A mentor gives a business owner more confidence says Gerrie.

“ I needed backup for myself. I had ideas about what we needed to do but with a mentor I had someone who could consolidate that – a sounding board. I don’t have to take his advice, but business is a journey for us and at every stage things change over time – from start-up, to consolidation and growth –there is always going to be something that you need help with.”

“It’s the cheapest advice you will ever get, so why wouldn’t you have a mentor? Every business that belongs to the Chamber should make the most of the service,” says Gerrie.

“Business is a journey for us and at every stage things change over time – from start-up to consolidation and growth – there is always going to be something that you need help with.” Gerrie Cashmore , Operations Manager MTF Greenlane.

Floored business gets back up with guidance of business mentor

The Natural Flooring Company Limited was a little over three years old and employed seven staff when the devastating Christchurch earthquake struck on 22 February 2011.

A supplier of tile, timber and cork flooring solutions for home living spaces, The Natural Flooring Company lost its pipeline of orders, its showroom and warehousing facilities on that day just over four years ago.

Owner David Buckby says that the business is only operating and succeeding today because of the guidance and support of the business mentor he was matched with after he contacted Business Mentors New Zealand for help.

“The whole situation was overwhelming and we needed help to get a recovery package in place. We had Business interruption insurance but finding our way through the claims and settlement process was going to be a nightmare,” said David.

“At the time I thought we were too young a company to be able to survive. We’re here today because of Russell’s input. Having a business mentor has taught me to think about the business in a different way and to behave in a different way.”

Russell Wheal is a qualified Chartered Accountant who has also been a business owner and works as a business broker with Tabak in Christchurch. Buying and selling mid-size companies has given him huge exposure to different businesses and the drivers of their performance.

“David was facing massive troubles as were many Canterbury business owners immediately after the quake. The possibility of having no home and no business was very real. The first things we identified were to front up to the creditors and get a bit of breathing room to restructure the business and then to agree a finance package with the bank. Breaking the challenges down to a number of actionable steps gave David the clarity and the focus he needed to get on with it,” Russell said.

Russell says his experience in business sales has taught him that business life for owner-managers is pretty lonely. He was encouraged to become a mentor to share his experience and make a contribution to the Christchurch SME community.

“Most business owners like David can benefit from an outside view and the chance to talk things over. I see my role as a mentor like a navigator, providing a compass to help the owner find the right way. I listen and make suggestions and often reflect back what the owner has told me. It can get a little tough when owners don’t listen to their own advice!”

David and Russell met weekly in the early days of their mentoring relationship. Four years and a number of triumphs later they still talk regularly by phone.

“The Natural Flooring Company is a very different business now than it was in 2011. We’ve structured our operations to suit the ‘new normal’ circumstances and environment for doing business in Christchurch,” David said.

“The approach and discipline needed to spend time working on the business that I got from Russell has been invaluable. Our focus on cash management, outsourcing installation work and keeping overheads down has been the formula for success. I felt alone when the earthquake struck and wondered if it was just me because all our historical reference points to operate the business were gone. Russell has been a lifesaver.”

Anyone interested in registering for a business mentor or finding out more about Business Mentors New Zealand should visit www.businessmentors.org.nz or call 0800 209 209.

Image caption: The Natural Flooring Company owner David Buckby (left ) with business mentor Russell Wheal.

Software company catalogues many benefits of business mentoring

Vernon Systems Limited is an Auckland-based software company that develops specialised information management solutions that help museums and galleries to manage and share their collections.  

He contacted Business Mentors  New Zealand for help.

“The culture and heritage sector is hard hit when economies start to slide and our business felt the impact of that at the end of the last decade. Our profitability was affected and as a result we started falling behind best practice in a number of areas,” said Paul.

“We were struggling to prioritise. The outside view and the ideas to change things that George brought to us had immediate benefits. Using a business mentor is something we should have done years ago, the benefits are so significant.”

George Peacock is an experienced businessman with years of experience in the technology sector and has held a variety of senior roles with big companies in the UK. Resident in New Zealand for four years he continues to run his own technology business serving customers around the world.

“When I first met Paul and his two fellow directors I could see they were worried and knew they needed help. I admired their openness and willingness to ask for guidance and explore new ideas. We looked at each key operational area in our first meeting and identified a number of issues, several were marketing-related. Using a consensus approach Paul and his colleagues got started on a list of actions and moving forward,” George said.

George says he was encouraged to become a mentor and believes that by sharing his experiences he can make a contribution to the local SME community.

“Small business owners get buried in operational matters and almost all can benefit from an outside view and the chance to talk things over. I’ve seen Paul and his team become much more confident in their decision-making and in expressing themselves. They identified the need for action and it’s a credit to them that they have got on and made changes and become a learning organisation.”

George and Paul’s team met at regular intervals through the second half of 2013 and twice more in 2014 with plenty of dialogue in between.

“We’ve tackled our pricing structures, improved the way we handle service requests for clients, changed our financial forecasting, introduced professional development for every staff member, looked at our bid assessment process and introduced structured project management,” Paul said.

“The experience and the ideas we got from our mentor have helped us to find so many opportunities for improvement and to look positively on making changes and feeding the lessons we learn into our business and into future software planning.”

Researcher uncovers value of business mentoring

Research Services Limited began as a specialist information provider for clients in the building industry in 2009.

Co-founded and run by Karline de Boer, Research Services provides tailored investigative research services for for start-ups, SME businesses, local government agencies, business associations and chambers of commerce and has now done work in 14 industry sectors.

When Karline felt the business had hit a flat spot in early 2014 she contacted Business Mentors New Zealand to help her and was matched with volunteer business mentor Russell Freeman.

“I was confident our business model was sound and giving our customers real value but I needed someone to challenge me and help the business to improve the revenue line and improve our business practices,” Karline said.

“When it is just yourself running the business it’s very useful to have a fresh pair of eyes to test your thinking and help to answer the question am I doing the right thing? Russell has a broad industry background and his fresh perspectives have taught me to be more open-minded and give some new ideas a go.”

Russell Freeman is an experienced businessman and has been running his own businesses for 40 years. For the past three years he and wife Margaret together with their two daughters have been running The Costume Company, a flourishing Wellington costume hire business that also provides a fun family working experience.

“When I first met Karline it was clear to me she wanted to be successful and the concept of her business looked great. The opportunities we identified were to develop her sales processes and the confidence to sell, and for Karline to be more disciplined with her time and how she applied it to the home-based business,” Russell said.

Russell says he became a mentor because he is a proud and committed Wellingtonian and thought that by sharing his experiences he could make a contribution to the local SME community.

“Small business owners have few opportunities to compare notes and most will feel lonely or isolated at times. As a business mentor my job is to listen in a non-judgemental way, offer guidance and present options for the business owner.”

Research Services is in the business of information discovery and Russell says that his experience of mentoring SME clients is also a journey of discovery.

“Some businesses would like you to tell them what to do and solve their problems for them, but really it is the things that get revealed when you start talking that give us the insights we need to help the client work things out for themselves.”

Karline and Russell have been meeting at least monthly since June last year and Karline regularly sends material to Russell by email to get another view.

“I’m really pleased with the relationship I have with Russell. He’s accessible and available when I need him and I’ve got results,” said Karline.

“We developed a good rapport very quickly and the result of Russell’s early suggestions gave us the footing for a trusting relationship. It’s important to be up front and clear about what you want from your mentor and Russell allowed me to do that.”

Tour operator opens up Paradise Trail with help of mentor

Revolution Tours runs a fully guided and supported luxury biking and walking tour around the western shores of Queenstown’s Lake Wakatipu and into Mt Aspiring National Park. The route is known locally as the Paradise Trail.

The business was founded by husband and wife team Matt and Kate Belcher in 2011 when they saw an opportunity to unlock the beauty of the Paradise Trail for holidaymakers who wanted a comfortable tour experience and the chance to enjoy local food and wine in good company.

In late 2013 Matt and Kate felt they were making some expensive mistakes with their marketing and contacted Business Mentors New Zealand for help. They were matched with volunteer business mentor Brian Weaver.

“We were faced with lots of different avenues where we could invest our marketing dollars but we had no experience and didn’t know how to make good choices,” Matt said.

“Our advertising wasn’t generating the bookings we wanted and Brian came with an external view and helped us to see the bigger picture. We expected to get matched with someone who knew more than us and we got an absolute bargain.”

Brian Weaver is a retired senior marketing executive with years of experience working in international markets for multinationals such as Nestlé, Johnson & Johnson and McDonalds Corporation. For the past four years he has been mentoring small business owners in Warkworth and more recently in the Queenstown area since relocating there in 2013.

“When I began working with Matt and Kate I saw they had a terrific product and the client feedback they collected was excellent. The big challenge was to address the level of bookings and get the word out,” said Brian.

“The opportunities we identified were to better define their target audience and focus their marketing effort on that group. Using input from clients we tweaked the whole package and made a lot of small improvements.”

Brian says business mentoring came naturally to him and he’d done a lot of it in the latter part of his career supporting new McDonald’s operations in the eastern Mediterranean, Middle East and Asia.

“Most small business owners need someone with fresh eyes to bat ideas around with. I see my role as giving people confidence to trust their own judgement by addressing questions together. Every client and every business is different so there’s no one ‘cookie cutter’ approach.”

“I enjoy people who are passionate about their business and Matt and Kate are really committed and work very, very hard.”  

Matt and Kate met with Brian regularly in the early stages of their mentoring relationship with plenty of phone and email contact in between. Now they get together less frequently and have their meetings over lunch.

“Booking numbers are way up on last year and we’re looking for more staff. It’s reassuring to know I can call Brian anytime. Getting a mentor is the best business decision we’ve ever made,” said Matt.

Image credit: Photo courtesy of Laurence Belcher, paradisepictures.co.nz

Communicating the sign of success

Computastyle Signs, a family-owned business founded more than three decades ago, has successfully navigated the transition to a new generation of management. The company was set up by signwriters Jenny and Stephen Woolley in Matamata in 1979. They adopted the name to reflect their early embrace of computer-generated signage when they moved to Tauranga in 1989.

Clothing brand thinks mentor ticks all the boxes

Lack of motivation is never a problem for Fran and Lucy Frost, but they do need guidance from someone who listens well and provides clear, helpful feedback about their businesses – Module Marketing, and clothing brand Little Flock of Horrors.

For the Papakura-based husband and wife, mentor Tina Bogaard ticks all the boxes. In March, Tina was matched with the duo by Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development’s (ATEED) South office, the local delivery agent for the Business Mentors New Zealand programme. Fran says: “I have always been an entrepreneur, and as anyone self reliant knows, it is the greatest and scariest thing in the world. Sometimes it is good to share what you are doing with a trusted advisor who has no agenda or ties to your business.” Module Marketing is a boutique marketing and brand building agency for small and medium-sized business clients who often want to export; Little Flock of Horrors is a merino clothing range for children up to eight years. For their businesses to go to the next level, Fran and Lucy realised they needed to develop documented internal processes – particularly effective systems to avoid ‘giving away the gold’ to clients. “One of our main goals for working with Business Mentors was to discourage clients from taking marketing ideas we share with them, cutting ties with us and executing them poorly in house. That is inevitably a loselose situation, and Tina has helped us to prevent this happening.” Fran and Lucy look forward to bouncing around their latest ideas with Tina at monthly meetings. “Tina is a fantastic listener. She has helped smooth out the way we deal with customers, improve our internal systems, and develop five-year plans. She has given us countless hours of independent advice,” says Fran.