Wisdom and experience come with age, but some of Tauranga's young entrepreneurs are proving age has no barrier in business. Because despite their youthfulness, young people are behind some of the Bay's most successful businesses.
Zoe Hunter profiles some of the city's young businessmen and women who are bringing a fresh perspective to the business world and a promising future.
To be a lawyer or a builder?
That was the all-important question a young school graduate Nico de Jong asked his mother, as he pondered whether to follow the career path his parents did.
"She said, 'You should be a builder' and I said, 'Okay, I will do law'," the 36-year-old said with a laugh.
With a background in science and an interest in intellectual property, de Jong enrolled at Otago University and landed his first job at age 24 at Auckland law firm, Bell Gully.
As time ticked by, de Jong gained experience at specialist intellectual property firms, Hudson Gavin Martin and Wrays Lawyers, in New Zealand and Australia before returning home as a young dad to be closer to family.
But while working in larger companies, the Mount Maunganui lawyer and trade marks attorney gained a soft spot for the smaller businesses and went out on his own about four years ago to create The Loft Legal.
Doing away with big firms, de Jong took the plunge and decided to operate a different, more affordable intellectual property law firm with a focus on small business.
"I realised there was a lot of smaller businesses that would come and see us, see what it would cost, and we would never hear from them again.
"Or they would just not come and see us because they were so intimidated," he said.
"I just thought I could give it a go - what's the worst that could happen?"
He spent the first year building his business before a steady flow of work came in.
"It is quite intimidating initially. I did feel young and other people weren't doing what I was doing. It wasn't normal," he said.
"I didn't know of anyone who had done it. So it was a lot of figuring that out and not having a large investment to play with."
But de Jong said taking that plunge had proved successful.
"I mean, I took a punt at the start I guess. It is not normal for people, particularly of my age, to be doing their own thing," he said.
"And probably in hindsight, I would have been more nervous about it if I had known what I do now.
"But ignorance and naivety were probably in hindsight of benefit and so you just took the plunge and did it."
But going out on his own has not come without its challenges, including trying to find the perfect work-life balance.
"I had a couple of young kids. One was about 6 months old and I was working from home because I didn't want to be spending money on rent," he said.
"It is also unnerving when you a growing a business, any time you are not working you feel like you should be and worried about where the next work is coming from."
But on the bright side, de Jong said he had the gift of flexibility.
"Over the years I noticed things that were difficult for the clients and I could implement ways of doing things the way I wanted to, help them," he said. "That was really invigorating."
He also had time - "time to be a dad", de Jong said.
Name: Nico de Jong
Occupation: Mount Maunganui lawyer and trade marks attorney
What advice would you give your younger self?
"I feel like things fell into place quite well for me. From a professional perspective, I feel pretty fortunate how that played out and I don't know if I would really change much.
My advice? Go for it, do it again."
Advice to other yo-pros?
"I would harp on all the benefits I see. But if you're going to be on your own you do need a certain level of experience."
What do you when you're not at work?
"A lot of sporting activities. Mountain biking, rock climbing, running, surfing more recently. I like to be outdoors. Family, being a dad."
"Ice-cream, goody gumdrops."
Top travel spot?
"Europe. I have a Dutch family and strong connections there. I love the history and variety of things to do."
What do you drive now?
Favourite place in the Bay?
"Rotorua's Blue Lake"
What does the future look like for you?
"That's all part of the fun."