Saturday, November 24, 2012

Bigger Doesn't Mean Better

Yesterday I completed my final assessment with Te Wananga o Aotearoa Certificate in Small Business Management (CSBM).

Established in 1984, Te Wānanga o Aotearoa provides holistic education opportunities of the highest quality for Māori, peoples of Aotearoa and the world.  It is one of New Zealand's largest tertiary education providers offering a comprehensive range of certificate to degree level qualifications to New Zealanders of all ages and walks of life.

Guided by Māori principles and values, they really take great pride in this nurturing and inclusive learning environment, as well as the depth and diversity of their courses in small business, computing, social work, teaching, Māori performing arts and te reo Māori.

Te Wānanga o Aotearoa has provided a fresh and vibrant alternative within the New Zealand tertiary education sector for 25 years, enhancing the skills and employment opportunities of more than 50,000 graduates.

In my course we covered:

  •   business planning processes in the New Zealand business environment
  •   business law, including legal terms and concepts and preparing a legal plan
  •  marketing, including principles and concepts which can be applied to real-life situations
  •  people management, including employment and staff development
  •  small business accounting, including business mathematics and accounting concepts (e.g., cashbooks and filing GST returns)
  •  ‘the financial plan’, including taxation, budgeting, sourcing finance and implementing financial policies and procedures into a business. 
Our class having lunch together on our last day. 

It was a 36 week course done part-time.  My teacher Ra Winiata was just incredible.  An incredible human being with a passion for small business and helping people achieve their goals.  I call him Ra Ra Ra because he was our cheerleader.  

I have run a business for 18 years without any knowledge of what I could do better.  This course helped me to discover my personal and business strengths and the things that cause me the most stress.   My strengths are definitely in marketing, real life concepts and strategic planning.   Thinking about money and conducting research on what other people are doing with their business causes me stress.  I don't want to know what other people do.  I don't see the point.  Their path is different to mine so what does it matter what they're doing?  The end goal is different.  And in regards to money, I always do quite well applying simplistic logic to the art of making money.  I decide what I want and then I achieve it without going into debt.  

What I really need is a large sum of money so that I don't have to THINK about money and I can carry on doing what I love - healing, traveling and writing.  That will be my next goal.

I learned that business can be pretty ruthless.  People aren't afraid to steal ideas if it's going to make them money.  I learned this the hard way when I shared my long term goals with someone I thought was a friend.  She was an accountant for a big company so I thought I was talking business.  A few months later she started up her own business using my ideas.  I was absolutely blindsided.  It really threw me.  There's no such thing as friends in business sadly.  So knowing this, I've come to realize what I already knew.  I have no desire to be out there in that cut throat business environment.  I have been doing pretty well for someone who knew so little.  I have something that a lot of people don't have - common sense and survival skills.  I want to keep things simple.

I am happy ticking along earning enough money to pay my bills and live comfortably. Why would I want more than that?  It reminds me of that story about the American businessman and the Mexican Fisherman.

An American businessman was standing at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.
“How long it took you to catch them?” The American asked.
“Only a little while.” The Mexican replied.
“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” The American then asked.
“I have enough to support my family’s immediate needs.” The Mexican said.
“But,” The American then asked, “What do you do with the rest of your time?”
The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life, senor.”
The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds you buy a bigger boat, and with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats.”
“Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own can factory. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But senor, how long will this all take?”
To which the American replied, “15-20 years.”
“But what then, senor?”
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO (Initial Public Offering) and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”
“Millions, senor? Then what?”
The American said slowly, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos…”

I love that story.  I am once again reminded why I moved to New Zealand in the first place.  It is so easy to get caught up in the treadmill of life.  That feeling of wanting more more more is apparently still haunting me!  

Taking this course reminded me that I can do anything.  I can achieve absolutely ANYTHING I put my mind to.  So if I want to live a semi-retired life then who's to say that isn't successful?  Apparently just me.   I know I need to stop comparing myself to others and just focus on what I want.

"If you can achieve your sales goals you have an excellent business Tracy. The challenge now is to find the passive income that will allow you to ease back from the physical demands of your current work in future - should you want to. I like your innovative thinking with the app that you are developing and you have a great skill in writing too. You are a woman of many talents and will do well in whatever you put your heart mind and soul into."       Ra Winiata 
Ta Ra!

Now this is the life.  Long weekends in Fiji.

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