Tanya Gray established her recruitment specialist service, Recruit NZ, in 2008. Very early on Tanya knew that she would need a business mentor if her business was to develop the way she wanted.
Tanya had spent her early years in corporate recruitment roles and had been frustrated by the services provided by Auckland recruitment agencies. She decided to flip the recruitment model into a user-friendly format, with fixed prices and a one-stop-shop of services.
“Building close, transparent relationships with clients is an important part of that customer focus, as is the clear pricing structure for all the services,” she says. “This service-oriented approach has seen Recruit NZ expand its operations – despite its establishment in the midst of a recession. After all, good service, trust and integrity never go out of fashion – no matter what the economy’s doing.
“At the beginning it was just me and I had a small family. About six months into the business I decided to get a business mentor. I had taught about small business management and promoted the benefits of having a business mentor. Then working in a senior role in recruitment before I started on my own had taught me what not to do in business.”
Tanya had a newborn baby and wanted to learn how to get a balance. “I spoke to Carly Duncan, the Auckland North Shore Business Mentors New Zealand coordinator and told her I wanted a female mentor who would understand what being a mum meant and yet knew you could commit to being a successful business woman at the same time.
“I also needed to set up fabulous systems and structures to analyse and run my business.”
With two children at home and the recession making its impact felt, Tanya was mindful of the market and needed to be agile in business – so she worked on finding a real point of difference.
“My mentor, Susan, taught me a lot about analysis and defining the systems in the business. She talked to me about the challenges and my weaknesses. I had a very detailed business plan and always referred back to it. Above all, I was able to get a life-business balance and made sure I was looking after myself. She was there to talk through all the personal things too and it was absolutely amazing.”
By the beginning of 2012 the business was growing and Tanya wanted a mentor with marketing expertise so she went back to Carly at Business Mentors New Zealand.
“I gave her a big long list of characteristics and she was wonderful as always and came up with Gareth. He is a Westpac manager, very good at listening, and with great connections and amazing ideas. We met a couple of times a month. I would always prepare for a meeting in advance. It worked out really well. He really has been there for me. He cuts through the complexity for me.
“When I talk to people about starting a business, I say they need a business mentor. I am a BNZ customer and have spoken about it at the BNZ Connect meetings. You need to have a clear plan for your business and these people have been there and done it.
“If it doesn't work it is down to you because what you put in is what you get out of it. If you do the work you'll get amazing results.
“We are 54 percent above where we were last year; our client base has tripled, all through just getting help here and there and finding different ways of doing things.”
Business Mentors New Zealand is the country’s only national volunteer mentoring service and depends largely on private sector support. BNZ is a Patron Partner Sponsor. The not-for-profit organisation has more than 1950 mentors placed throughout the country.
If you are interested in participating in the mentoring programme, visit www.businessmentor.org.nz where you can apply online. A $150 registration fee applies but there is no charge for the mentoring service.
Peter Boyes is a brand and marketing communications specialist. Email email@example.com