Rebuilding Christchurch Business - 'quake brain' recovery push

By Kim Triegaardt

Jo Fife, business mentor from Grow Your Own Business. Photo / Supplied
Jo Fife, business mentor from Grow Your Own Business. Photo / Supplied

Just like using the word 'munted' to refer to infrastructure, quake brain is going to enter the lexicon as the official reason people can't get anything done after an earthquake.

"They know what they have to do, but just don't have the ability to focus or even the inclination to want to," says Christchurch business mentor, Jo Fife.

Fife runs a company called Grow Your Business that combines networking and learning events through a membership programme.

After the September 4 quake, together with Left Click, a website design company and Advancing Business, a business support company, Fife established a series of seminars called 'Aftershock'.

"They were designed to help rebuild Canterbury businesses and to give them tools and action points to get their heads around the key issues they faced and how to deal with them," says Fife.

While the workshops were well supported, Fife found that business owners just couldn't concentrate on the seminars.

"The common theme that emerged was every one wanted to talk about how they felt and how their business was being affected. They didn't have the energy to put into getting things done even though they knew that's what they should be doing."

Fife says the February quake has given her a greater insight into why business owners felt like that. This time round she's lost her home and office and feels too tired to do anything.

Aware that she needs to be moving for her own sanity, Fife is morphing Aftershock into a different model of business help.

"Running events is not it, it wasn't after September and certainly not this time."

What Fife has in mind is a membership programme through which members, and she has nearly 2,500 on her books can access business resources, many of which are free.

"People don't know what is out there and how much free stuff you can get, all of which can help you run your business efficiently in times of great stress."

She cites email-marketing campaigns as one example.

"Online content is very important right now because business don't have access to their clients. Email marketing can keep you in touch with people, let them know where you are and that you are ok and the business is still functioning. But most companies have nothing in place to do that."

She says that's despite there being a surfeit of free tools like Mail Chimp to do things.

"With Mail Chimp you can design, send and track an email campaign to a 2,000 strong data base and all for free. People just think it's too hard but it isn't really."

As Fife develops these network solutions she's commuting to Australia once a week every month to run sales training programmes.

"It's very lucrative so it allows me to keep my head above water while we work out the best way to help local businesses survive."

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