Listen to your accountant, think big and treat your company like it's your baby.
That was some of the advice dished out by Stefan Lepionka, co-founder of juice maker Charlie's, during a business mentoring session in Auckland last week.
The ASB's Business Futures Mentor Programme, launched on Friday, will see 10 of the bank's small business customers receive guidance from some of New Zealand's most successful businesspeople in the next 12 months.
Mentors, as well as Lepionka, include 42 Below founder Geoff Ross, Chris Dobbs of men's clothing firm Working Style, Erica Crawford, who co-founded Kim Crawford Wines, and Nosh Food Market directors Clinton Beuvink and Chris Moore.
A further three mentoring sessions will take place over the next year, enabling owners to discuss elements of their businesses - from marketing to governance, cashflow and capital raising. Those involved in the programme gathered for the first time at the top of Auckland's ASB Tower on Friday.
One of the companies selected to take part is Dunedin-based Perreaux Industries, a manufacturer of high-end, niche audio equipment. The firm, owned by Martin and Vicki van Rooyen, exports 85 to 95 per cent of its products to around 30 countries.
In his mentoring session with Lepionka, Martin van Rooyen, a father of six, said his goal was to get a better work/life balance.
Asked where he saw his business in 10 or 20 years' time, he said that was something to which he had not given a lot of thought.
"That's the first thing you've got to do," said Lepionka.
"You've really got to nail down, with your family, what the goal is."
The chief executive of Auckland-based Charlie's, which has just been sold to Japanese brewer Asahi for $129.3 million, urged van Rooyen to establish a board of directors and take a course in "lean" manufacturing, otherwise known as Kaizen, a business philosophy made famous by car maker Toyota that cuts waste and increases efficiency.
Clem Beck, the owner of furniture design firm Portfolio By Design, said his aim was to organise the business in a way that would allow him to focus on growing the Wellington-based company, rather than being preoccupied by operational matters.
Mark Lennon, owner of Auckland's Branco's Sausages, was also being mentored by Lepionka and said he thought the programme was a good networking opportunity.
The Business Herald will follow one of the companies as it makes its way through the mentor programme.
* Branco's Sausages, Auckland
* Juliette Hogan Boutique, Auckland
* KooGa, Hastings
* One Red Chilli, Auckland
* Perreaux Industries Ltd, Dunedin
* The Poi Room, Auckland
* Pomeroy's Old Brewery Inn, Christchurch
* Portfolio By Design, Wellington
* Rite Price Rentals, Mt Maunganui and Rotorua
* Spidertracks, Palmerston North