Business guidance efforts recognised

Business Mentors New Zealand chief executive Sarah Trotman congratulates mentor Mike Henderson,...
Business Mentors New Zealand chief executive Sarah Trotman congratulates mentor Mike Henderson, of Wānaka, for his voluntary support of businesses. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Acknowledging he was fortunate throughout his own business career, Mike Henderson enjoys the opportunity to now give back.

Mr Henderson, who moved from Auckland to Wanaka in 2019, has volunteered more than 250 hours to help support businesses. This week, for that assistance he was presented with a pin of recognition from Business Mentors New Zealand chief executive Sarah Trotman.

BMNZ is a non-profit organisation which has been pairing mentors with business owners nationwide for more than three decades. Business owners paid an annual membership fee to be matched with a mentor and more than 1500 mentors offered their time voluntarily.

Ms Trotman said Mr Henderson’s capability and competency, warmth and diplomatic manner meant he had gone above the time spent with the small business owners he mentored, of which many had re-registered for ongoing support.

Originally from Dunedin, Mr Henderson spent 20 years in the financial sector, followed by five years running his own business — a midlife crisis, he quipped — then the next 20 years as general manager or chief executive of five different businesses, all in different sectors. About six years ago, he gave 18 months’ notice to the real estate group he was chief executive of that he was relocating to Wanaka to semi-retire.

It was after giving a presentation in Auckland that Ms Trotman’s predecessor approached him and asked if he would consider being a mentor.

"I thought to myself, I’ve been doing that all my life," he said.

It had been relatively easy to slip into an official mentoring role and he had since mentored about 18 business leaders since he had been in Wanaka, all from different sectors.

But regardless of sectors, business was business and the fundamentals of business were the same — "you’re selling product and or service," he said.

Common issues for small business was that they often did not have plans in place, did not understand the difference between profit and cash flow and most were working in their business rather than on their business.

His role was not to tell business owners how to run their business; it was about having someone to bounce ideas off that was not a partner, family member or friend.

His most satisfying experience was helping business owners to plan forward and not make decisions based on their bank account.

Covid-19 had made for difficult times for many businesses; one of his mentees had a 4WD high-country tour business of which 98% of the clientele was overseas tourists.

Suddenly that business was gone so they started reimagining his business model and changed the focus to the domestic market, particularly Auckland. But then Auckland was in lockdown, so they ended up successfully selling virtual tours of the high country.

Sometimes asked why he did not charge for his services, Mr Henderson said that was not what it was about.

It involved about two hours a month and it was a role that he enjoyed.