Darran Rowe is a great believer in synchronicity and circumstances.
So, when he started chatting to a guy at a garage, and the conversation somehow turned to his experience using a business mentor, Darran’s interest was piqued.
At the time, he had just re-branded his dog training business – Mindfulness4Dogs - and was looking at ways he could increase his practical and online profile and further grow his business.
He contacted Business Mentors New Zealand with “no expectations” but thought having a chat with another businessperson was a really good idea.
“You are quite isolated as a sole trader, and you have no real idea whether you’re doing the right thing - there are a hundred ways of doing the same thing.”
Darran was introduced to online marketing expert and business mentor Sarah Imeson, who he says, immediately opened his eyes to what people were seeing, rather than what he was seeing.
Sarah showed him how to utilise what he already had – namely tapping into her web, social media and marketing skills to bring his online presence to life and to appreciate the true value of the services he was offering.
“At the time I was being ranked at the bottom of the first page, and everyone knows you want to be in the top four, so she pointed me to all the right places, to the right people online, and the right conversations, so I am now ranked in the top three of the search engine rankings.”
Darran says his Facebook skills were severely limited, but with Sarah’s guidance, he has grown his audience from 300 at the beginning of the year to over 900. With Instagram, his next marketing target, his wife has taken on some of his Facebook blogging duties and is looking to take a more active role in the business.
While COVID-19 took Darran’s practical dog training income down to zero during lockdown, he used the downtime to repackage and re-value his video programmes. With Sarah’s guidance, he was able to not only increase the prices on his practical courses but to also sell the video packages separately in a tiered pricing arrangement.
“The whole idea of leveraging what I already had has doubled the income I was earning with no extra work.”
Sarah says when she first met Darran, he was managing everything himself. She was able to work with him on systems and process work to reduce the amount of time going backwards and forwards.
“That had a really big impact on him being able to free up some of that time and take things to the next level,” she says.
She also helped him streamline client bookings and put more worth around packaging and upselling.
“Darran’s a specialist in what he does, and he was pricing for a generalist, so I was also able to give him that confidence in the pricing side of things,” she says. “He’s got a lot going on and a lot of different revenue streams. I needed to help him focus and have a plan in each of those streams.”
Sarah was impressed with Darran’s motivation and how he actioned any advice she offered with enthusiasm and determination.
“He was never not confident, but his confidence about pricing and offerings have definitely grown, and he now understands the value of what he has to offer and what makes him and his business different.”
Darran appreciates that his Mentor offers advice from a coaching perspective.
“She doesn’t tell you what you do, Sarah’s very clever in how she guides you into having the idea. As a teacher, I used to do that all the time, but it’s quite interesting watching it in action.”
Darran started dog training out of necessity when he couldn’t find anyone to help him with his own dog.
“I went to loads of dog trainers, but no one could give me any advice that worked, so over the next two years I developed my own methods,” he says. “I’m quite a spiritual person, so I thought that if mindfulness works for people, then it must work for dogs.”
As he developed his training techniques and courses over the years, Darran longed to make Mindfulness4Dogs a fulltime business, but he balked at taking the plunge.
“I was working fulltime teaching, doing part-time dog training, trying to make it fulltime dog training and then knackering myself completely,” he says. “I stopped completely and decided not to train anymore and then after three months got complete withdrawal symptoms, re-branded as Mindfulness4Dogs at the beginning of last year and then decided to go fulltime at the end of last year. Before then, I didn’t have the guts to jump.”
“You’ve just got to do it, don’t you?”
Darran’s three key takeaway points for small businesses are:
1: Work smart, fuel your passion and success will follow.
2: You don't have to know it all yourself, a business mentor can help guide you in the right direction.
3: Remember your business isn't your life, book time out in your calendar regularly to relax or take the dog for a walk.