Dance has been part of Marguerite's life since she was two years old. It's brought her incredible joy and now her business is giving others the same opportunity. At The Renaissance School of Dance Marguerite calls herself CEO – Chief Enthusiasm Officer. Her business journey seems to be perfectly choreographed. Although she's faced her share of unexpected challenges, she's met them without missing a beat, benefiting from support of her Business Mentor Nicki.
At high school, Marguerite was voted 'Most Likely to Be Prime Minister'. Instead of politics, she studied Visual Arts and taught dance part-time. But she still had a meteoric rise.
At the age of just 18, Marguerite took the leap to set up her own dance studio. A year later, she won the young businessperson of the year at the Westpac Business Awards. So, what can someone so successful and with such a talent for business gain from a mentor?
Marguerite says she's always understood the importance of the right troupe of supporters to perform well. She has continually sought out mentors and coaches.
"There is some truth in that saying that it can be lonely at the top. Even though I have a tremendous group of people around me, there are very few people of them who can genuinely understand and challenge you. Your staff may feel obliged to back your ideas because you're the boss. No one will tell you things you don't want to hear," says Marguerite.
"However, my Business Mentor Nicki can play a different role. She's ready to ask the hard questions and challenge me on my 'why'. She's an incredible sounding board."
Until Covid hit, Marguerite's business was thriving. The Renaissance School of Dance ran classes for children throughout the year and in various locations. The lockdowns turned things upside down. And it all happened when Marguerite had a toddler and a new-born baby. When the opportunity arose to receive mentoring through an Auckland Unlimited partnership, reaching out to Business Mentors New Zealand was an obvious move.
Marguerite's Mentor, Nicki, said, "We started meeting at the start of 2021. She had to grow her business again after an incredibly difficult time. In some ways, she seemed quite defeated about how much she'd lost. But she just needed a sounding board and to keep looking ahead."
Nicki is an internationally sought-after marketing strategist. She has benefited from the support of a Mentor herself and so she came ready to pay it forward. She is delighted to be able gifting her time as through Business Mentors.
"I don't know if Marguerite realises how good she is at positioning her business. It's very natural for her because she genuinely cares about what she does and her students wellbeing."
When Marguerite first started working with Nicki, she was down to just one site for the school.
Marguerite says, "Knowing I've had someone to call every month has been invaluable. Nicki has amazing knowledge of all business. She has also been a great advocate. In between meetings she's stayed in touch with opportunities. It was good to know someone was thinking of me and backing me to succeed."
When Marguerite was offered another business, she was able to work through the considerations with Nicki.
Marguerite says, "We looked at the pros and cons of the opportunity. Nicki referred me to a few people who had relevant expertise. She also helped me look at my whole life and goals – not just the finances."
The two identified Marguerite's unique talent for building things. As a result, Marguerite decided to forgo the opportunity and create her own new space from scratch.
"Now it seems so obvious that this was the right way ahead for me, but it's different when you're in the middle of it," she says.
Nicki says she's loved seeing Marguerite's confidence about putting her values forward. And this is also evident in the thriving community that's grown around the school.
Marguerite is rightly proud.
"The dance studio is set up to provide kids with positive self-esteem so that they grow up and they don't come across any of those issues. You know that they are proud of who they are, and they're physically healthy.
"Ultimately, we have a passion, joy and love for dance and strive to create a safe environment with strong role models where everyone is free to express who they are and more!"
Marguerite and Nicki both completed mental health first aid training together to be able to give more in their roles.
Marguerite says, "I’ve had a couple of kids here who have gone through some struggles, and I was able to identify that and support them through that. It meant a lot to me.
Today, The Renaissance School of Dance offers lessons for all ages and abilities, from tots (6 months old) to teenagers. They have 60 classes per week encompassing 10 different dance styles and running from four different studios across Auckland.
Marguerite says she’d encourage business owners with any level of experience to find a Mentor.
“It's important to be specific when applying for a Business Mentor, ask for specific skills, and be open and willing to learn new things. Discover your Mentors’ strengths and how they can help you, and who they know that may be able to help you – connect.”
If you’re ready to take the first step and find a Mentor to accompany you, read more about getting a Business Mentor. We have experienced businesspeople waiting in the wings to offer your support.