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Cheers to the winners of our Small Business Scholarships

Posted 1 year ago in Xero news by Valerie Walshe
Posted by Valerie Walshe

At Xero, we are passionate about helping Kiwi businesses grow, and supporting business owners to unlock their full potential. We are proud to provide support, sponsorship and scholarship funding for activities that help small businesses, bookkeepers and accountants succeed and grow.

Earlier this year we launched our first Xero Small Business Scholarships for kiwi businesses. We offered small business owners a chance to win one of three scholarships to participate in the Owner Manager Programme run by The Icehouse.

Owner Manager Programme – The Icehouse

“The programme in a nutshell? Real skills. Development. New opportunities. A challenge. Refreshed perspective. Significant changes. Better results” – The Icehouse

As part of this programme, the winners of these scholarships will attend five 3-day sessions over the course of five months, where they will develop the capability to drive momentum and achieve better results for themselves, and their business.

The programme is ideal for owner-managers with over 15 full-time employees and $3 million+ in revenue. Participants will develop a better awareness of what drives business growth, and learn skills and techniques to execute on their newly developed business plan. On top of this, it provides business owners with an opportunity to network with other like-minded owner-managers and business experts, and a new outlook on leadership and work-life balance.

As part of the selection criteria for winning one of Xero’s Small Business Scholarships, we asked our participants two questions:

  • What are the current problems and opportunities facing your business?
  • What impact will this course have on your business’ growth?

And the winners are…

Andrew Young – Parallaxx

Parallaxx specialises in providing temporary traffic management consultancy services to those in the construction industry. This involves services such as planning road works, gaining approvals from road controlling authorities, and managing the work on site. They also have a strong off-shore capability based in the Philippines, which provides substantial resource for the company and allows for more expansion globally. Parallaxx is looking to continue growing the NZ business, as well as expanding their capability in the off-shore market beyond just the construction industry.

Andrew says that some of the challenges facing his business are “ensuring we are continuing development in infrastructure across NZ, managing a global team, finding skilled individuals in NZ and developing systems and processes that are flexible enough for rapid expansion.”

“This scholarship would help me to continue my personal development as an owner-manager of Parallaxx. My official training is as a Civil Engineer, and I would like to expand my skills to better develop myself as a manager and owner of the business. It would be helpful to see how others have successfully run a business before me, as I don’t have a specific model to follow – we just make decisions based on instinct and practical knowledge.”

Emma Dawson – ZSK Limited

ZSK Limited is a childcare provider service located in Havelock North. They currently have a license for 110 children, but have recently completed an expansion which is due to be licenced for a further 60 children by mid May 2019. The expansion is a testament to the success of their centre.

The business has also built a childcare education software, which has been approved and well-received by the Ministry of Education, and is currently being integrated in their systems. ZSK Limited’s next stage of growth is to complete the software development, begin selling licences for the software and to have both childcare facilities at capacity.

Emma says there are some challenges for the company though. “When it comes to the education software, finding enough capital for the software development is tough. The challenges within the childcare centre is to ensure the long term viability of the centre by keeping up with best practice, and ensuring our staff’s service remains at a high standard.”

“We have looked at The Icehouse programme for two years now and believe that we have a lot to learn from it. The scholarship would make it possible for us to attend and learn all the skills that we think will ensure our business thrives and grows as we’ve envisioned it to.”

Suzanne Weal – Sign On Limited

Sign On Limited runs the design, manufacture and installation of all facets of Signage. This is all done in house, and on bigger jobs they may also take on the Project Manager Role. Sign On Limited want to continue their growth, but in a more manageable way – they have the resources to improve turnover, however Suzanne wants to focus on developing some better practices.

“Our business started over 20 years ago as a single man business in our garage at home. This has grown to a turnover of over $2.5 million and we employ 16 staff. We have won numerous NZSDA awards for some pretty exciting work, and enjoy clients such as Ssangyong NZ and Mobil NZ” says owner manager Suzanne.

Some of the challenges that Sign On face include finding skilled staff, training staff, planning for strategic growth, marketing and branding, and getting the team to work together on common goals.

When asked why she’d benefit from this course, Suzanne said, “I have looked into The Icehouse Owner Manager Programme and I think this is exactly what I need – especially the strategic planning and Business Growth Plan sessions. I feel like our growth in the past has been driven more by demand, and less by planning. Whilst I have the accounting skills to keep on top of my business finances, that’s where my skills finish. I would love to develop my leadership skills further and this seems like the perfect programme for me to achieve this.”

Cheers to our three winners of the Xero Small Business Scholarships! We can’t wait to follow your growth journey.

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