Small business: Characteristics of a Kiwi entrepreneur

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Chris Maclean of Icehouse.
Chris Maclean of Icehouse.

I had a chance to see plenty of entrepreneurs at close quarters last week at Jenny Morel's Morgo conference and they do have some genuine common traits. They get their buzz from filling a need, ideally appealing to large numbers, and they are generous in their encouragement of other like-minded types operating in different fields from them.

Comvita's CEO, Brett Hewlett talked about the co-founder of the manuka honey specialist, Claude Stratford, a man who would have been NZ's oldest entrepreneur, dying just a few months ago at the age of 102. He started the last of his many businesses in his mid 90s.

WrightSpeed's Ian Wright, a Kiwi based in San Jose, and co-founder of TESLA, is obviously loving life running his own business, figuring out ways to commercialise his electric car technology. With a big grin on his face, he invited the Morgo audience to celebrate with him when his US team sent him a picture of his first product to be sent off to his first truck fleet customer after passing its internal drive tests.

In this week's columns I feature a couple of young entrepreneurs starting out who had a chance to pitch their ideas to the seasoned audience at Morgo and came away sparkling with the experience and a host of new contacts.

Roger Boyd, founder of the jetlag drink, 1Above, who also features this week forwarded me a quote from the Economist: "The difference between a business owner and an entrepreneur is that a business owner wants to open another shop and an entrepreneur wants to transform an industry."

And a call out to all entrepreneurs who could do with a sounding board. The Icehouse has been running a promotion where Kiwi entrepreneurs can ask the Icehouse team their most critical questions and you have until September 13 to take this opportunity. See the contact details in the vox pop we feature this week provided by the business incubator.


Next week: And speaking of never being too old to start a business, proud son, Tim Lightbourne, co-founder of Invivo Wines, got in touch recently to let me know about his Dad's business. It seems his work life is busier than ever even though he has passed retirement age. I'd love to hear your stories of businesses you have set up post-retirement, a time when you can really pursue your dreams with no worries about the mortgage hopefully.

- NZ Herald

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