What do 8 teams, 12 mentors, 1 winner, 2 new startups and 59 litres of coffee have in common? Stumped? Well, it’s all to do with Startup Weekend Taranaki!
If you haven’t heard of Startup Weekends yet, they are 54-hour events where developers, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts come together to share ideas, form teams, build products, and launch startups!
It’s a fantastic global initiative that’s run nationally throughout New Zealand and the next one will be held at Manifold Coworking and Events Space in New Plymouth from 14 to 16 October 2016.
At MYOB, we’re really proud to be part of Startup Weekend Taranaki. Last year 45 eager participants took part, where they pitched their ideas for a startup product or business. 8 teams were then formed around the top ideas and they went through a rigorous 3-day frenzy of business model creation, coding, design and market validation, supported by business and startup mentors. The weekend culminated with presentations by each team in front of a judging panel of local entrepreneur leaders who provided critical feedback and picked a winning startup.
The talented team Shout Beer, won last year – think flower delivery but with beers. Owe a mate a favour, or want to thank them for a good deed? Then here’s your perfect answer – Shout Beer!
So, starting this Friday evening, approximately 50 participants get to take part in this full on 3-day experience and we’re so excited to listen, support and help the teams hone their ideas to what hopefully will become a market winning product or service!
Haven’t signed up and fancy coming along? Book your place
Whether you’re starting out in business or leading a company with over 100 employees, there is one thing we all have in common – we don’t know everything! Steve Jobs, Sir Richard Branson and Larry Page all admit to having had guidance from mentors throughout their career. No matter who you are or what you’ve achieved in life, a good mentor is crucial to business and personal success.
The first step to finding a great mentor is to realise you need one in the first place! We are extremely lucky in Taranaki to be surrounded by experienced leaders who are willing to dedicate time to encouraging other business professionals in the region. Our business and creative community is stronger than ever and the opportunities are endless. So once you understand the importance of a mentor, the rest is pretty straight forward – start looking!
Startup Weekend Taranaki is the latest offering in mentorship programmes, and one that Staples Rodway is very proud to invest in. The event founders believe that, “Empowering others is the best way to identify leaders, build communities, and inspire change.” This is hugely important if we are to build successful businesses in Taranaki that bring growth and wealth to the region.
Startup Weekend isn’t just about having a unique idea that sells. Yes, each team forms around an idea and spends 54 hours working on this idea but the event itself offers more than that. During the event, participants are surrounded by dozens of other like-minded individuals. Whether it’s other coders, designers or entrepreneurial spirits – being immersed in this environment can only provide inspiration to those involved. The mentors then form the next layer of substance. Having the guidance of experienced business people gives the idea legs to form into a real business that can make money.
Last year alone, 2 ideas have turned into startups as a result of the Taranaki Startup Weekend. But if this event isn’t for you, there are still other ways of reaping the benefits of mentorship. Venture Taranaki offers a Business Mentoring Programme where they match people in small businesses with experienced mentors to offer advice, knowledge and a different perspective. Because they have such a wide range of mentors, you can choose to work with people who specialise in different aspects of business – and once you are more comfortable in one area, you can work with a different mentor on another area of your business.
Mentors offer industry-specific advice based on their years of trying and failing. They can be a sounding board for ideas or a devil’s advocate and they don’t have to cost the earth either! Many start-ups work on a tight budget in the early years so utilising these easily-accessible options could be the start of a very successful partnership for you.
Below are some helpful tips for creating and maintaining successful mentoring relationships:
- Quality over quantity. It’s not about finding as many people to help you are possible, but finding the best. These are often the most successful people in their industry. Senior level professionals have had the most experience in their business career, good and bad, so consider this when choosing a mentor – learn from people’s successes, but more importantly their mistakes.
- Find a Mentor that shares the same business values. It’s the same for any business relationship, the person must believe in you to be able to help you succeed. They also must be willing to spend time with you no matter how busy their lives may be. Mutual respect goes a long way.
- Respect your mentor. You may not like what they tell you sometimes but they are successful for a reason. Also be respectful of their time and take notes so that you don’t forget what they say.
- Find a mentor now! Even if you are only just developing the business idea, find a Mentor. The sooner the better when it comes to seeking trusted advisors.
It’s a commonly accepted opinion that creating a business is hard work. Of course, there’s your product or service to perfect and your funding to sort out but some of the logistics are much easier than people realise. It’s often when something is overlooked that it all feels a bit too hard. Staples Rodway IT Director, Rob McEwan has been involved in helping businesses succeed for over 30 years now and if he had to narrow down some advice for areas people overlook in the early stages of business, these tips would be on there.
- Incorporate strategic planning sessions from the start, even better if you do this with an external advisor. Building these habits and relationships early give you a great base to develop from as your business grows. Clear strategic direction engenders greater clarity of direction, unity of decision-making, and provides greater traction to actions taken. Vital issues are considered early, often resulting in savings of time and money.
- You may not have a CIO or CTO on board when you start. This is no excuse to defer all IT strategy until you have the skills in your team. It’s important to get IT advice near the beginning because it’ll be easier to set you up for growth then, compared to trying to retroactively tidy up down the track.
- Find a good accounting system and use it! A system won’t help you if you aren’t inputting the correct information. From day one, ensure that you know how you will track your income and expenses and make sure you keep it up to date. Most cloud accounting systems automate a lot of these tasks for you so speak with your accountant to review which would work best for your business.
- Consider your marketing plan early on. Knowing how you will be promoting your business lets you design systems, processes and collateral that support your intended channels. This saves wasted efforts that don’t actually fit with the marketing plan.
- Ensure that you are complying with any legislation and requirements that are specific to your industry. You don’t want to go too far and realise there’s quite a big regulatory hurdle standing in your way. Find out about it first so you can plan with it in mind.
And a bonus tip – learn everything that you can! Take advantage of the sessions offered by Staples Rodway (there’s even free ones!) to learn the Basics of Financial Management and the Basics of Business Planning. When you’re running the show, it doesn’t hurt to know a little bit about a lot of things – you can leave the work to the experts but understanding these aspects of your business will empower you to feel more in control.