How a business mentor can help your numbers stack up

Business Mentors New Zealand offers guidance and support as you build, maintain or grow your business. If you get the right fit, they can even make the numbers sing.

Numbers tell a story

Accountant Haylee Wrenn teaches her clients how to read the story of their business through numbers.

“People sit down every night and read their kids bedtime stories. The numbers are just another story that they need to learn how to read. If we can teach them how to read that story, it gets really exciting for them and they want to read more and more,” says Wrenn, who is a mentor through Business Mentors New Zealand.

She gets her business mentoring clients excited about their business numbers by tying those numbers back to their personal goals. “I work backwards. What do you want to earn? What are you goals? How many holidays do you want to have? Those are the numbers you need to work towards.”

“Say you work out that you need $80,000 to live -- pay the mortgage and put food on the table, then on top of that, you want to go to the Milford Sound for three weeks and that will cost $20,000, then suddenly you need to earn $100,000 a year. If your business overheads are $100,000 a year, then your business needs to bring in $200,000 a year.”

Once you’ve figured out how much your business needs to make, you can work out how much you need to sell your products for, or how much you need to charge for your services. “So for example, if you can only work 20 hours a week, then your hourly rate needs to be x.”

Wrenn says if that hourly rate isn’t realistic, say you’re a gardener, and you’ve worked out you’d need to charge $150 an hour, but no one will pay that, then look to trim some fat elsewhere in the business. “Take it out of the middle rather than out of your pocket. Do that by streamlining costs, or looking at value-added services. Increase turnover to get the result you want.”

Wrenn always asks new clients to work out how many hours a week they work, versus how much money they make. “My worst one so far was a client who worked out she was actually only making 67c an hour. That was a year ago. She’s now making between $60 and $70 an hour, because she knows her numbers.”

Get everyone excited

Setting goals mean you can get other people excited about your business too. Wrenn once mentored vineyard owners who were also the parents of small children, aged around seven and 10. During the busy season the kids would often get upset because their parents were busy or tired. “We got the children on board. We set them some goals and gave them some tasks. If they achieved x, y and z by the end of the season, they’d get a trampoline.”

That led to the kids getting excited about the business. Rather than acting up, they’d go out and help their parents tie back grapes.

Building confidence and prices

Business mentors can look at your business with fresh, neutral eyes. Friends and family can offer great emotional and moral support, but a mentor can offer the benefits of their professional experience and expertise.

Setting the right market price is one area where an outside perspective can be helpful. One of the first things digital marketer Sarah Imeson did when she started mentoring dog behaviourist Darran Rowe 18 months ago, was to encourage him to reset his prices.

When Rowe started the mentoring process, he was still working full time as a teacher and was working on his dog training business in the evenings and weekends. Initially he priced himself quite low, to make his business competitive in the local market. “I think it’s about working out your value. I was working all hours of the night, but making a really small amount of money. It wasn’t a viable business at that stage.”

Having a neutral party like Imeson talk him through the pricing process gave him the confidence to put up his prices. He’s now got more clients than ever, even though he’s not the cheapest dog trainer in his area.

“Confidence is a big piece when it comes to pricing,” says Imeson. “Don’t just look at your contact hours with clients, look at all the costs that go into your business. There’s a lot that should go into your hourly rate.  Things like your rent, any gear you need to buy, administration costs, software, staff, all of those things need to be taken into account.”

Get a business mentor

Get a business mentor

Business Mentors New Zealand has an additional 500 mentoring spots available for small business owners this year. Don’t miss out. Pay a one-off registration fee of $295 + GST to register for up to 12 months’ access to a business mentor to help develop your business and your skills as a business owner.

Find our more on the Business Mentors New Zealand website.

Business Mentors New Zealand(external link)

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