The recession left a lot of people struggling, but it also gave a spur to others to start their own business.
That’s a trend noticed by Andrea Anderson, Business Manager for Ochre Business Solutions (www.ochrebusiness.com), an Auckland-based training and mentoring service.
"What we’ve been experiencing over the last seven years is the increase in the number of people who do have a genuine interest in going into some form of self-employment or business ownership, and we’re seeing that number increasing even more so this year,” she says.
Ochre’s primary role is providing entrepreneurial education, from planning and analysis, through to marketing, sales and finance. It also works with tertiary education providers, government departments and the corporate sector. But the recession has brought an even more urgent task for Ochre: helping local SMEs out of the smelly stuff.
"They are people who have been in business on average for five years, so they were pre-recession,” says Anderson. "Surviving the recession period was quite a challenge for quite a lot of people, purely because they were experiencing such prosperous times, and all of a sudden there was this major drop in the market.”
Ochre has a database of around 2500 people who use its services. Of that, 38-40% are business owners and a good three-quarters of them are under what Anderson calls "financial duress”. The vast majority of them also have sales and marketing problems.
"They don’t know who their core target audience is now, and therefore don’t know the promotional strategies necessary to reach that audience,” Anderson says. "Some of our clients actually haven’t
identified that their market no longer exists. I would say on the positive side, we have a good 80-85% of them whose businesses can be potentially rescued.”
An essential part of a modern business strategy is digital marketing, and Ochre has expert advice available on website development and social media. Networking is crucial too, which is why Ochre recently established a business directory (see last month’s Start-Up, page 30).
Before we let Andrea Anderson get on with her typically busy day, we asked her to share her five top business tips:
- Have an action plan, but ensure it’s flexible enough.
- Clearly identify your time and financial capacity, so you can be organised.
- Surround yourself with the right support people, who actually see beyond what you currently see in your own business – bring in, for example, a business mentor or adviser.
- Continue to read and research – never stop doing this.
- Don’t forget to enjoy the process.