There are no limits to Paul Harding Browne’s creativity. Whenever he wants a piece of furniture, he just builds it. Now, with the help of Business Mentors NZ, Paul is breaking boundaries.
The Christchurch customised furniture maker and restorer developed his skills from an early age, helping his father make and repair pieces of furniture. The passion grew and Paul continued to learn new technologies and add to his skills.
Many years later, when Paul had a job change and found himself at home looking after the children, he started making ‘stuff’ and he realised he was really good at it and enjoyed it.
“I didn’t go back to full time work, but did some part time jobs to pay the bills so I could continue with my furniture making. As demand grew I saw the opportunity before me and I ended up replacing the income from those three days of part time work in just a few hours in one day, making furniture for people,” says Paul.
No Boundaries Furniture was created 13 years ago to fill a large gap in the market for customised furniture.
“We make anything. The more unique and challenging, the better. If you can dream it – we can make it.”
Paul’s wife, Deb organises the marketing and shipping as well as getting on the tools in the workshop, and his two teenage daughters also work in the business outside of university and school.
Paul credits a lot of his success to his mentor, Murray Victor, a now retired businessperson who volunteers his time to help start-ups and small businesses through Business Mentors NZ.
“Murray has a wealth of knowledge and experience and we were very lucky to have him as our business mentor. The first thing he did was tell me that he couldn’t find our website and that it needed to be optimized. It was probably the one piece of advice that made the biggest difference. We got our website professionally optimized and have never looked back with good growth year on year, since then,” says Paul.
Murray, who ran his own clothing business for over 20 years, had already learned a lot and wanted to pass that on to help other businesses. After selling his clothing manufacturing business, which employed nearly 100 people at its peak, he has mentored full time for the last 20 years and helped dozens of businesses succeed.
“I felt it was time to give something back to a society that had been very good to me. When I started my business, there wasn’t any help and you just had to go it alone so I take a lot of pleasure in being able to help others. It is hugely rewarding to see a business go from an idea to being a part of the economy and offering employment to others,” says Murray.
Paul and Deb have been the most satisfying clients because they listen and are willing to learn and take advice. Paul is an extremely skilled woodworker and he and his family have put so much hard work into the business. One of the first things I noticed was his charge out rate – he was almost a charity! I encouraged him to increase his rates and while his customers didn’t blink an eye, he made the business financially more viable.
Paul says Murray has been a constant sounding board, offering good advice and support when things are a bit tough. “It makes a big difference to feel that you’re not alone,” says Paul.
It’s a life Paul relishes and wouldn’t change. “I just love the independence of working for myself and being able to work with clients to make their dreams come true is deeply satisfying.”
Paul’s 3 takeaway points for small business:
- Grow your business and skills steadily.
- Get a Business Mentor.
- Follow the advice of the Business Mentor.