Kiwi Business Story: Business Coaching Special 2

Posted by Ben Whittacker-Cook on Dec 8, 2021 10:00:00 AM

Introducing four more inspiring  Icehouse Business Coaching  Alumni. The quartet discuss their key learnings in this Kiwi Business Story coaching special.

Gabby Kirk is the Director and owner of the Auckland-based  Papier HqMichael Friedberg is the founder and Director of Michael Friedberg ConsultingHeidi Farren is the General Manager and Owner Operator of  Altitude Tours and Dave Nankivell is the Director and founder of  Custom Electrical. 

Business Coaching Special 2

Gabby Kirk: We signed up to one-on-one business mentoring from The Icehouse with Kevin D’Ambros-Smith. He really got our vision from the beginning and has been a huge help in putting together a clearer plan and strategy for the next five years. 
So far, the mentoring has allowed me to identify the aspects of the business which are good and the aspects of the business which need some work. Being self-employed there is no accountability, so no one to answer to.  
The biggest thing for us was sitting down and mapping out the next 12 months, so we knew what it would look like going forward. It’s very easy to get overwhelmed and not know how to tackle the next hurdles but by breaking it down it makes it feel much more achievable. This tool is going to be very useful and powerful in the next few years as we strive to hit new targets and growth goals within the business.  

Don’t be afraid to ask for help from people that have walked in your shoes previously. The great thing about The Icehouse is the coach you have will be there to walk you through your biggest challenges and help you come up with solutions. You don’t know what you don’t know. Take calculated risks and develop a product you are truly passionate about. If you create something that is unique and important to you, it will shine through in everything you do.  

Michael Friedberg: I had eight coaching sessions with Icehouse coach Bill Bain between October and July 2020-21. It was such a positive experience, and it worked out so well. From the outset Bill asked me what I wanted to achieve from the sessions and why I was here.  
I knew I didn’t want to be just a marketing person and saw my future career path in senior management or at CEO-level and Bill helped develop my technical capability in terms of high-level leadership. He really homed in on what it meant to be a leader in my current role and what sort of leader that organisation needed me to be. 
He has such a common sense approach – a different way of highlighting to me what was happening around me and that my responses and actions were mine to own, which really resonated with me. I have evolved in areas that I wouldn't have had without that kind of hands-on introspection, guidance, challenge and discussion.  
He also helped me develop ideas around how to influence people who don't think like you. For example, tech companies are often led by tech founders, who have an inside-out approach, very focused on the product when they should be starting with the customer’s relationship with the product. This is common in all levels of a tech business. 
We did a lot of work around building high-performing teams and the tent model of leadership competency, which was very useful. Now I’m using some of the conversations I had with Bill in my own consulting and it’s great to share that.  
A good coach can help you fill the gaps so you come out of the experience a better leader. It can be confronting at times, but thanks to Bill I can recall so many memorable moments, so many practical insights and tools, things that I now hear myself saying and doing with people inside of companies I am supporting. 
Any coaching is going to be an improvement and any time spent on yourself is a worthwhile investment, but you have to be ready and you have to be clear what you want. If you want to spend some time and actually delve a little deeper, get a little more honest and be open to some feedback and introspection, then coaching is so valuable. I believe that we never finish the leadership journey.   
Heidi Farren: I was looking to do the Owner Manager Programme and was waiting for approval from our advisory board in a (March 2020) board meeting. COVID hit, and suddenly we weren’t in a position to do that.  
Gareth [Bayliss, Sales Manager at The Icehouse] reached out to me and explained that there was a chance I could get RBP funding for Icehouse business coaching. Gareth set up a phone call, and we went from there. I wanted to work with someone who could offer a lot of value. Ken Leeming is my coach and he’s been fantastic. Ken and I started weekly zoom sessions in week two of lockdown and now we've secured more funding so we can continue working together.  
I would have struggled with that whole scaling process if I didn’t have Ken as a mentor, because I really want to do everything we could to ensure our business survived Covid, and do right by my staff as well. 
Obviously, with international borders closed we’re still significantly down (as at August 2020), but we were initially forecasting for 15% of last year’s month on month, and we’re operating at around 50%. Ken’s a great sounding board, challenges my strategy and offers me different perspectives. He has so much experience and knowledge of businesses across all sectors. I’m 26 and don’t have many peers in my situation, so having great people around me, like a fantastic business partner, great advisory board, and Ken, is really important. 
Even when things are going well, it’s easy to lose sight of the positives, so having Ken around has been invaluable. He asked a lot of questions early on and had a good understanding of the overall performance and financial standing of the business. He took a real holistic approach – looking at things as a whole and then diving deep into specifics. I’ve learnt so much from him – particularly around staff management and restructuring. There are ways you can go about it which minimize pain for all involved parties and ensuring that you do things properly.  
Dave Nankivell: OMP showed me that there were areas of the business that needed my attention – perhaps without realising it in the first instance, such as helping management to get the people and culture of the business right, and developing my financial knowledge to understand better how the numbers can affect the business as a whole.  
I attended a short financial course with Frank Accounting who have office space at The Icehouse Co-Working Space in Parnell, Auckland, and through that experience I got to meet Derek Young. I wasn't actively looking for a coach or advisor at the time, but after chatting to Derek and asking a lot of questions, we concluded that I had too many questions, so I started working with Derek!  
He’s been advising me since February 2020. He provides all-round support across every aspect of the business and is incredibly intuitive, while also having a great understanding of our industry. He’s made a huge difference – helping me to become more understanding of what’s important for the long-term growth of the business.  

The market is highly competitive at the moment – businesses are reducing their prices and I can’t believe anyone is making any money on certain jobs. This is another area where The Icehouse has helped me because I’m confident that when I price a project, I know exactly what and where my figures are, and I’m not under-pricing my services and losing money on jobs. 

The next stage will involve me working with Derek on a business continuity plan which I can roll out over the next five to ten years.  
Follow the link for more information on The Icehouse’s coaching and advisory services.

Click on the link for more Kiwi Business Stories.

Topics: Business Coaching, Ken Leeming, Bill Bain, Kevin D'Ambros-Smith, Derek Young, Owner Manager Programme, Gareth Bayliss, Coaching & Advisory, Kiwi Business Stories, Gabby Kirk, Michael Friedberg, Dave Nankivell, Heidi Farren

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