Aim to give businesses edge

Warren Taylor says the ability to listen to clients is a key part of his new business venture....
Warren Taylor says the ability to listen to clients is a key part of his new business venture. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Warren Taylor's goal for his new business venture is to achieve ''significantly better'' outcomes for Dunedin businesses and families.

He has launched The Business Edge Ltd to work with business owners to develop and implement plans to maximise the value of their businesses.

That meant they would then have an attractive business to sell as a key part of their succession/exit strategy.

It was different from his previous role as a Beyond Business adviser for the Otago Chamber of Commerce for nearly five years.

In that job, he focused on encouraging the ''putting in place'' of sound exit-strategy processes, with emphasis on what the consequences were likely to be post-sale, but it was essentially a pastoral role, he said.

With his new venture, there would be a much more assertive approach to good business practice, although working ''on that personal front'' was still a key element, Mr Taylor said.

Well known in the Dunedin theatre scene, Mr Taylor has more than 35 years' experience in SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) and corporate business ownership and management in both New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

He was also Dunedin City Council employment adviser in the mid-1990s, working with all Dunedin business sectors, and particularly engineering.

He had learned much over the years about the Dunedin business community, in terms of both type and attitude, he said.

He believed such a service was needed, saying the average age of SME owners was 57 and climbing, which meant that even with many people working well into their 60s, many businesses would either come on the market, or be shut down, over the next few years.

Mr Taylor would delegate client requirements to a team of business service provider professionals as required.

Together, they would work on all aspects of a business' development, ensuring goals envisioned by business owners were met.

The development and eventual sale of a business was ''very much a process rather than an event'', he said.

Succession planning alone was generally recognised to take at least five years to ensure the best results.

Many more business owners in their 30s and 40s were now working on their exit strategies, which was an encouraging trend, while an increasing number of banks required a robust exit strategy in place as a condition of funding being made available.

Many people thought about succession planning, but there was often a fear of the unknown. It was also a big jump from having ''quite a structured, responsible life to having a free-rein life'', he said.

Mr Taylor estimated about 90% of his role was about listening, and that was the part that he really enjoyed.

''When you listen, you get stories ... and little triggers that show where the hidden resistances are,'' he said.

His intention was to ''be a kind of drafting gate'': after listening to people, he would find out where there was a need for an appropriate skill or service and steer them in that direction. Trust and confidentiality was ''key to the whole thing''.

While Mr Taylor's area of operation was initially going to be Dunedin, there were plans to ''see what the temperature's like in the rural sector'' in the future.

He was excited and enthusiastic about the new venture, and he was not aware of anyone else doing the same thing.

''I love new things, I love start-ups. Things are much more exciting when you know you're really putting yourself on the line.''


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