Starting your own business can be a daunting prospect but for those who are willing to take advantage of an opportunity, there’s success to be had. Each of the following entrepreneurs has staked their claim and made their mark in local industry. They share the lessons they have learned after getting into business at a young age …
Jordan Curin, 23 | Hi-tech Home Solutions
I’ve always had an interest in technology. At age 11, I would pull apart the stereo in our old truck and find ways to add more speakers and subwoofers. After leaving Mahurangi College at 18, I worked for several businesses in security, automation and electrical. Then, after returning from an OE to Europe, I decided to start my own business.
My favourite part of the job is learning about new technologies and gadgets, especially as they become available at more affordable prices. I enjoy helping people and providing a service they tell others about.
The biggest challenge is keeping on top of the latest technology across different brands and industries. We will help almost anyone that needs a tech solution to be solved in their home. It can be hard remembering all of the different systems across all of the different categories, but that’s where the fun is.
They say two minds are better than one. Last year I took on an experienced technician, Jarrod, the same age as me. We work together to spread the workload evenly and that way there’s not too much pressure on either of us.
In 10 years, I see us as a recognised brand in New Zealand. We’re currently rebranding the business to Tech2me and positioning as a solution for internet, audio, visual, television and computer help. Our base will always be Warkworth and Matakana, but expansion into the greater Auckland area may be on the cards this year.
My advice to other young entrepreneurs is to work for as many places as you can to build skillsets. Pick up the phone and talk to people. It’s too easy to hide behind screens these days.
Vicki and Josh Rothwell, 30 | Groconut and Silas Arbocare
Josh was an arborist for five years before we started our own arborist business four years ago. We started researching natural plant growth boosters after learning about the detrimental effects that artificial plant growth boosters can have – that’s how Groconut was born.
Josh loves working outside, but the most rewarding part for him is seeing happy customers. My favourite part is knowing that we’re doing our bit to make a change by showing people that natural growth stimulants can work.
One of our biggest challenges has been getting all the right systems in place. Groconut is a niche product so we’re a little more limited when it comes to using other businesses for guidance and inspiration. Learning how to identify the right people and ask them the right questions has been a priceless skill that we are learning to get better at.
We would love to grow our business enough to create mainstream awareness. Naturally sourced gardening products can work just as well as artificial ones, and our goal is to reduce the quantity of environmental pollutants being used in our gardens for our future generations. Josh and I have young kids, and we feel we owe it to them.
Our advice to other entrepreneurs is that “you’re never too small”. Do the research, take the risks and be influenced by the right people. We are a generation that is so driven by social media and we’ve found that “staying in your own lane” can be a struggle. There’s a quote by Theodore Roosevelt that we’ve held tight to – “comparison is the thief of joy”. Remembering this helps us focus on things that directly impact on our business, so we can put our energy into the things that really matter.
Justin Fokkema, 29 | Keep Fit Matakana
I have always been involved in sports and I studied at a sports college in Holland. After moving back to New Zealand, I found hospitality wasn’t challenging me any more, so I decided to take my love of sports and turn it into a way to help others achieve their goals. I did this alongside hospo for a few years before I got the opportunity to buy into the Fitness Hub. I learned the ins and outs of the fitness business, which gave me more confidence to start up Keep Fit Matakana.
I love helping others achieve their goals and showing them how important it is to put their health first.
Not just physically, but how it helps them mentally too.
I can probably be quite hard on myself. There’s always room for improvement, more to get done and more to achieve. I have to try to be more patient at times, but I find the best way to cope is to take a day off now and then to spend time with the wife and kids.
I’m lucky to have my wife and her family who have experience running businesses. They are always willing to help and offer advice. There are also a few people I’ve met through the gym who have offered great business advice along the way.
I have a lot planned that I’d like to achieve in the next five to 10 years, but mainly I would like to see
Keep Fit as the leading gym in the area and hope to open another location. I hope to see it grow steadily with a strong reputation and a warm community feel.
My advice to others is to gain as much experience in your chosen industry as possible. Be patient and don’t give up or let financials scare you. If you really want it, you’ll find a way to make it work.
Vanessa Wards, 33 | Kiwiness Tours
I was on my OE in Ireland for a year when I ran out of work. I found out about a tour guide position available in Queenstown, and after a Skype interview I got the job and flew directly there, ready to start training. I worked for a few years as a hiking guide all around the South Island before going out on my own with a 12-seater minivan and a vision to create my own custom tour business. I then moved back to my hometown area of Matakana two years ago, and rebranded to Kiwiness Tours. I also run Matakana Wine and Beer Tours as well as the popular Evening Kiwi Bird Tour at Tawharanui Park.
My favourite part is meeting awesome people every day, while working in an industry that offers fun experiences and gives people the chance to see a kiwi up close. My biggest challenge is marketing my business. It’s hard to market yourself. It’s lucky that the great tour reviews help spread the word. In five to 10 years I hope to step back from doing so many tours myself. Hopefully, I will have some great guides working with me, while I focus on operations and maybe even juggling family life.
You really do need to be passionate about the business you want to pursue. It is the essence to success, especially in terms of sticking at it when things get tough. People can also tell if you genuinely enjoy what you do. It rubs off on the business and their experience with you. I also turn to others for advice, especially in areas that are not my expertise. I have a great local accountant who I have an honest rapport with and feel comfortable asking even silly questions.
Wayne Jarvis, 35 | Bridgestone Tyre Centre
I inherited the business from my father when he passed away. My biggest challenge was trying to build the clientele back up. Customers thought the business had changed hands. I just told people what had happened and who I was, so we didn’t lose customers. It was difficult learning from scratch and I had to learn fast. The staff and other local businesses helped me through the hard times. I have now been in business for 10 years.
My favourite part of the job is meeting customers and building a relationship with them. Warkworth is a town on the way up. It’s a good time to be in business here with the local economy booming.
My advice to other young people in business is to be prepared to work long hours and put in the hard yards. Be friendly and considerate. Otherwise, I haven’t found many challenges to being young in this industry.
Being your own boss is good, but nine times out of 10 you are stuck with the tricky jobs. The buck does stop with you. Hours can be flexible, but you have to be present to run a business.
Bridgestone Tyre Centre | 425 7843 | 021 151 9895 | 40 Whitaker Road, Warkworth
Sarah and Tim | iDigital
Sarah started her first business at 17. The biggest challenge was being taken seriously by customers and suppliers. Our advice is to stamp your mark and be confident and back yourself. Never stop asking for advice and guidance and before you know it, people will be asking you for advice.
We have this unofficial motto that says people come to see us because something needs to be fixed. Sometimes it’s a device and sometimes it’s just someone to talk to for half an hour or so. We just love helping people.
The biggest challenge is consistent supply of quality parts. We work really hard to develop and maintain exceptional relationships with our suppliers. Operating in a small community like ours means you have to be able to offer the very best parts and accessories and we work really hard to make sure we do.
Our business has flourished in the last five years thanks to the community we belong to. We hope to be doing what we are doing in 10 more years. Warkworth is where we have our roots now. It’s a very special place to live.
Getting your dream off the ground will be scary at first, but if you follow your plan, you’ll start seeing results. Research as much as you can. Approach local organisations such as BNI Networking for advice and mentoring and be sure your business plan is as sound as you can get it. There is always risk. Don’t let the fear of that risk stop you from trying. Something that has worked really well for us is keeping our base cost low so income can become more flexible.
"You really do need to be passionate about the business you want to pursue. It is the essence to success, especially in terms of sticking at it when things get tough." Vanessa Wards