Business Mentor Series: A look from the outside in

14 August 2017 / Published in Business

Welcome to the first of our new series, shining a spotlight on the success and growth of small kiwi businesses with the support of Business Mentors NZ.

Going into business can be an eye opening experience, but you can always find support. Dean Kuru and Sarah Minchington from Pegasus Rentals in Nelson understand just how challenging running a business for the first time can be, leaving behind long careers in the military to go out on their own. With the help of Business Mentors and the local Nelson community they’ve been able to move their business forward with confidence.

Transport is in the blood, and both Dean and Sarah had vast experience managing vehicle fleets while serving in the military over the last 25 years. As well as this, Sarah had experience driving trucks and working for her father’s freight business. When they decided to start looking for a business to purchase, the opportunity to work with vehicles seemed a no brainer, and they backed their ability to use their experience within the car rental space. Taking on a franchise also offered some support, as there would be processes already in place – they would just need to apply these.

What they both didn’t realise was the pressure involved in running a business, as they were moving from a mind-set of two incomes, to having everything invested in their success with Pegasus Rentals.  With no business experience, they had real doubts in their ability to move the business forward.

Sarah mentions, “People would throw stuff at me and I had no idea why I should be doing that. The whole sense of not knowing what I was doing was really hard. I was really scared, especially because we had to make this work – it’s not pretend and we’re depending on it. It was quite overwhelming at times, and I felt like I was faking it.” The only way forward for Dean and Sarah was to ask for help.

After speaking with their ASB Business Relationship Manager, Sarah was put in touch with the Business Mentors programme, who then matched her with someone to offer support and guidance for their business. Their mentor, Bill (ex-Mobil) was able to come in and ask questions about their business from an outside perspective, and help Dean and Sarah understand their position. Understanding cash flow was an important first step, and rather than just saying it was something that needed to be done – they were able to discuss this and understand why. Being able to pre-empt seasonal changes, be realistic about their situation and identify areas to improve or to save were all significant in growing their confidence in the business and in their ability.

You don’t know what you don’t know – and with the help of Business Mentors, Dean and Sarah have been able to look to the year ahead and understand that winter is a slow period. Sarah mentions I get a sense of someone having my back. It’s a comfortable relationship where he can ask why, and I can honestly look at what we are doing“. Understanding how they are tracking on growth, and how they can minimise the impact of the slow season, they now feel like they are in control.

An outside perspective has allowed them to look at things they may never have thought about such as purchasing supplies wholesale – to deciding to build accommodation above their business and live on site, saving huge costs in rent.  

As Sarah explains, “we’ve built an area upstairs and moved into work and by doing that, as well as increasing our vehicles for the upcoming summer, come winter next year we’ll take a smaller hit over those months. Having someone from the outside look in and see an option we never would have thought about could potentially make all the difference going forward.”

Another suggestion for Sarah was to simply talk to her accountant. Under the impression that they weren’t making any money, and wondering whether they had bought a good business, all it took was to ask, and for them to hear that they were making enough.

As well as the help Business Mentors have provided, the local Nelson community has embraced them. Sarah is a member of The Tribe, a local business group connecting women in business which offers support, education as well as important connections within the community. The group has over 100 members and is a place where Sarah is able to feel welcome to share her difficulties, feel supported and get inspired.

Now one year in, Dean and Sarah have a real confidence in their business and what they are doing. They recently won the award for best customer service at the 2017 Pegasus Rental Cars Conference in June. This success is down to their hard work, approachability and dedication to the business – when someone rings, they answer!

Having someone to look in from the outside, and ask “what about…?” makes all the difference.

Business Mentors New Zealand is a not-for-profit organisation that supports the success and growth of small to medium-sized enterprises (SME). When you’re facing new challenges in your business, looking to grow or just starting out, mentors help to guide you along and give you a fresh perspective based on their knowledge and experience.

See how ASB can help you achieve your business ambitions.

Find information on Business Mentors' website.


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