Bronwen Hurford wanted to grow her business, The Paper People with a strong sense of purpose. To do this, she knew good guidance would be pivotal. As a newcomer to Dunedin, Business Mentors New Zealand was one of Bronwen’s first stops.
Bronwen moved to Dunedin with her husband Johnny and their two children two years ago. They launched The Paper People shortly after. Bronwen found that being matched with her Mentor, Brendan Gray shortened the learning curve of settling into a new community and establishing her business.
Mentor Brendan is a well-known Dunedin figure. He is Professor Emeritus of Marketing at Otago University and a long-time lecturer on entrepreneurship. Many of Dunedin’s successful businesspeople are grateful for what he's taught them.
Mentoring connected Bronwen to her new community
Bronwen said that as soon as she shared her aspirations with Brendan, he proved an incredible ally. One of the first things he did was let her know about an ASB event for small businesses.
“I went along to find local experts sharing their knowledge on everything from finance to sales. It was humbling to see how many people are willing to help small businesses. And this is in addition to Brendan’s own incredible generosity.”
Bronwen hoped a Mentor’s experienced perspective could help her see things differently. She says Brendan gave this and more.
“There was so much to do, and it was a bit overwhelming. I felt like I needed to be wearing every single ‘hat’ in the business. I wanted someone to help me break things down and understand what to do next.
“We sat down and considered where my energy would be best spent. It was helpful to be reminded that I didn’t need to do everything at once. We talked about my objectives and goals. Brendan helped me refine my thinking and create a deliberate plan.
“Now I know what to focus on each week and month. What's even better is that I can see how we’ll get to where we want to be in a year and even two years.
Purposeful planning helps set a clear path
Brendan explains that it’s about prioritising tasks and understanding what will have the greatest payback. Talking through this with someone else is helpful. This was especially so when Bronwen faced some tough decisions during 2020.
“Covid meant that many of the retail stores we’d been targeting faced dramatic change. We needed to consider how to adapt and where to focus. Having an experienced Mentor like Brendan allowed us to think about our decisions differently.
“Brendan helped us understand the pros and cons of various markets. We have three target audiences, and he's encouraged us to plan which to prioritise first. Brendan is not only a sounding board; he sometimes helps to reign us in! Importantly, he’s also an incredible source of encouragement.”
Vision and values help good businesses shine
Brendan is genuinely excited about the potential for The Paper People. Like all Mentors, he gives his time and shares his immense experience simply to see someone else succeed.
“Bronwen is enthusiastic and has a clear vision about the kind of business she wants to create. Getting clear about your point of difference is critical to success, as is articulating and staying true to your values.”
The Paper People are committed to being true to their point of difference. Theirs is a sustainable approach to the traditional product of stationery and art prints. Bronwyn delivers on this by using paper that’s approved by the Forest Stewardship Council and compostable ink, donating to environmental initiatives, and planting trees locally.
Brendan says that Bronwen is a great example of how businesses can set themselves up to do well. In fact, he mentioned Bronwen to a local journalist and they were equally impressed. That helped The Paper People get a pivotal piece of media coverage.
Good tips for good business
Together, Bronwen and Brendan share these tips for other small businesses.
- Be clear on your point of difference and make the most of it
- Know your values and use them to guide business decisions, so you're true to yourself and your vision.
- Break your big goals down into achievable steps that you can prioritise and plan around.
- Stay connected to your customers so you can continuously evolve your offering to meet their needs better.
- Get involved with Business Mentors to share your experience or benefit from someone else’s.
If you’d like to know more about being matched with a Business Mentor, or what it takes to be a Business Mentor, visit www.businessmentors.org.nz today.