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LETS GET DOWN TO BUSINESS.

Question :
IHi, I’m a NZ Maori from wanganui now residing in Northland and for the past 8 years, I have been the proud owner of small community Auto Body Repair shop. The first 3 years were the best and things look promising,  Client base was growing, positive feedback and most of all I was enjoying what I was creating. But suddenly I came to a dramatic realisation of how much i myself, business and the outcome of my family was, and is defined, determined and controlled by, the term I’ll  use is white collar gangsters. I as the small fish trying to swim, had come to realise that my hourly charge out rate is controlled and governed by third parties and can only be reassessed by being able to meet a criteria that doesn’t effect my quality of craftsmanship or capabilities but essentially I needed to invest at least $100,000 before these parties consider giving any more than a $52hr +gst rate and they have no intention on paying any more until I meet there requirements. Where i was based in there eyes also contributed to there reason for that low rate. That rate has been the same for me the whole time I’ve been trading and there’s only so much genuine private work available where clients actually have money which makes a guaranteed $52+ seem better than clients not paying at all. I persevered and my partner began to pursue her career also being a chef, she still is today and now head chef of a successful local small town bar n grille where she began. Things were looking good for my family but my business began to struggle with less hours on tools compensated by being where I was needed at home with our kids. I don’t regret her perusing her career at all, it’s what’s kept us afloat over the past 1 and a half years to be honest as changes need to be made by decreasing business expenses, I decreased my workshop by a third and utilized the space better and not jeopardizing production capabilities. I invested in a removable wall to achieve it, then I immediately get a rent increase. My landlord believed the price I was paying originally is where it should be even after my area being decreased exactly by a third. Then is when I new I had to move, I have learnt that if there is an opportunity for gain where the dominant position is the reason to be capable of gaining, weather it’s right or wrong to do so, greed comes into effect and deems the situation to be ok and their right because they can. Morals and respect to grow together are very dim in this modern world as I’m led to believe my positions of success in growth must not grow and im to stay right where i am, a small fish. I found a new place to lease that I could work from and also on the property was a house at a later dater my family and I rented also. Better for myself with having family at home meters from my workshop and partner still able to pursue her career, total overheads for combined rents decreased by 35%. All was looking up other than my ex landlord being upset because I relocated and made my life difficult with moving out. Things were promising,  but one thing that didn’t occur to me was that I had to build a new client base with my new location being 15km away from my previous and closer to another. My workshop was less appealing and took a lot of work but never gained where I would have liked it to be.  Business was tough, it was as if I started again but with no reputation of my capabilities in the new town. Then suddenly, an international epidemic, covid19. I was already on the back foot and this just crushed my chances of being able to get back to how I felt in  my 3rd year of trading as. Customers wanted their cars and some demanded their down paymentsreturned also. After coming out of level 4, we had basically relied on purely my small income I had made and government contributions which barely got us on par with bills and food and it essentially became the icing on the cake with financial difficulties  and being in arrears with rent. Essentially my arrears also contributed towards my landlord’s decision  but he also was feeling the pressure witch brand him to a conclusion of selling the property. We were given 6 weeks to be out of the house and workshop in an area where the campgrounds and hotels are full of families and slackers receiving emergency housing benefits. I had hit rock bottom, my highest priority was finding somewhere safe to house my family and I couldn’t even do that. No family around to help and I haven’t come from a financially secure background to ask for help. I was looking to take our kids out of school to move to the nearest available rent that would accept us. 5 days before we had to move out, a new client I served stopped in for a chat as I was still working and kindly enough offered my family n I to share his home with him, with total separate living areas. Unsure but keen as, we went out to view his home, it was an absolute mess but had no other option, I kept my glass half full and new with a bit of TLC and rubbish dumps,we can make it feel like home and began moving in. This was mid November 2020. Since moving then till present 25.3.21 I’ve not done much business from where I reside, I’ve become somewhat depressed about the whole scenario with where I have ended up and to an extent, my pride has been destroyed and believe I gave it a good shot, always room for improvemen tho but most of all what I know now about business and the disgusting behavior man obtain in this area of life and they prey on individuals that are uneducated like I once was. I’m glad I now have the knowledge of having a business sense of relationship between fellow future associates, but I look around, and want to believe that wealth can be made with a humble heart, not by plotting a scheme to lure anothers dollar,  and if he can persuade him of $1, he will manipulate, or convince him by blinding tru motive and inevitably when necessary, squeeze him in the corner where he is obligated and in a position where he must give in to the power tripping conditions and a sense of having to accept due to hidden agenders within agreements. through my experience, you do need money to make money. If I could, I’d do it all again but totally different with the knowledge I have now. I wouldn’t advise someone to do it without sharing my story. My question after my 8year breakdown is, should I persist in this avenue and try to get out of the mud onto green grass or am I wasting  my time without the backing needed to allow my business to grow. Personally, I believe my line of career is governed to much by million dollar companies and limited to growth. I didn’t know that fact when I was wanting to start my business, I jus liked the sound of the more I work the more I make, but! There is a more suitable alley for where my heart lays but once again, money is needed to make it. What would you do considering these circumstances and experiences

Question submitted 25/03/21 @ 08:54am
Industry: Start-ups
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    Kia Ora BTP. What an experience you have had.

    First thank you for your openness and honesty. You have been very brave both in starting your business in the first place, and the decisions you have made to prioritise your family. It takes a big hearted person to put those relationships first.

    Second, despite all the challenges and set backs, I suspect you are optimist at heart, and I want to support that. Yes, in life you will meet many people who are not positive and do not add to your journey. Yes, there are people who are selfish and put themselves first – often because of their own difficult experiences. Yes, there are market forces that can constrain you.

    It sounds as if there are some positive elements too – your partner’s career path (COVID impact to one side…), the generosity of your client who offered living space, albeit messy.

    If you can meet all those challenges with positive values, a good work ethic and skill, you can prevail. That doesn’t mean keeping on working within a framework that won’t succeed. So pausing to review the best way forward is very smart.

    You could reflect on these questions;
    – when your business was at its best, you found you were still constrained on an hourly rate. Can you make your business work at that rate? Can you lift the rate? Am guessing you are comparing yourself to national chains there?
    – due to your physical move, you now need to rebuild your client base. Can you do that in the current environment? Are there local competitors? What do you need to offer to win clients?
    – Could you do that part time after hours and work for a business that gave you some short term income certainty?
    – Do you have the heart and energy to try again? This is a big question. We all go through times in our lives when we have more energy (our health is great, kids are doing well, partner happy, family ok) and times when we have less. And that’s ok – its called being human. Where are you at?

    Last thought. I grew up in a privileged family, lots of support, so lucky.
    I worked (very) hard. I always extended kindness to others. Some of those ‘others’ turned out to be selfish, short term focused and duplicitous. After difficult reflection, I continued to show up, open hearted. And I have been consistently been met with kindness and support. I believe it’s the only only to live.

    Hope that reflection is useful.

    I am firm believer. Most people are good. Most people will help. Be the better person. Ask for what you need.

    We’re here for you.

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    Morena – Andy here from Manaaki, thank you for your mahi and for your courage in sharing. I personally don’t have a lot of experience in your industry, but in our shareholders at Manaaki we have a couple relationships with collision repair owners and industry players. One of these would be happy to give you a call if you would find that worth exploring. If you do – just email me andy.hamilton@manaaki.io with your cell/mobile number and I will get that sorted. Nga Mihi – Andy

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