Tauranga rich-lister Sir Paul Adams is well known for his generous donations to community causes. He is the executive chairman of one of the Bay's largest land developers. He was made a knight in this year's Queen's Birthday Honours for his services to philanthropy and the community. He also made New Zealand's NBR Rich List this year. He has been involved with and donated money to many community projects, including the city's newest university campus and Adams Centre for High Performance. He also supports many Tauranga sporting organisations. Business reporter Zoe Hunter talks top tips for business with Sir Paul.
Well-known Tauranga philanthropist and businessman Sir Paul Adams has shared his top 10 tips for maintaining a successful business.
Sir Paul, 70, was made a knight in this year's Queen's Birthday Honours List for his services to philanthropy and the community. He was also awarded a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to business in 2014.
He is well known as the executive chairman of one of the Bay of Plenty's largest land developers, Carrus Corporation, which has developed thousands of sections in Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty.
Sir Paul says there is no alternative to hard work in creating business success.
"It simply takes time to develop trusting business relationships."
Call it old fashioned, but Sir Paul says trust is about considering shaking hands on a deal as a legally binding contract or "your word is your bond".
"Legal documents formalising a contract should never have to come out of the bottom drawer in any successful business deal."
But he says creating credibility and integrity in business can also be the most challenging.
"These relationships often take years to develop, but creating business integrity and becoming known as an honest and fair businessperson opens many doors a lot easier," he said.
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"It is exactly the same guiding principles as should be followed through life in general."
Always looking at a business deal from the other party's point of view was a good start.
"Ensuring that you always leave something in it for the other party in a business deal is important," Sir Paul says.
"This doesn't mean you have to be soft in your negotiations, or dealings, rather, firm but fair."
Sir Paul studied to become a qualified civil engineer during the 1960s and early 1970s at a time when there were no electronic calculators, computers or mobile phones.
"Telephones were just landlines," Sir Paul says. "If you were not near a landline phone, you were simply not able to communicate, unless you wrote a letter or were in the same room."
Very few engineers learned or completed any level of commercial practice or business skills such as reading a set of financial accounts or preparing budgets and cash flows, he says.
Becoming known as an honest and fair business person opens many doors a lot easier.
But while working at a construction company after university, Sir Paul said his boss saw the potential in him to complete his institute of management papers.
Completing those papers gave him the basic skills needed to read a set of accounts and some fundamentals in financial management, he said.
"This gave me a new way of looking contemporaneously at the financial consequences, combined with the technical requirements, costing and design.
"I can remember when I first discovered the opportunity cost associated with not getting paid in a timely fashion."
Sir Paul also ensures his companies always pay accounts on time - "a fundamental requirement of creating good business relationships and developing trust and credibility in any industry".
The Tauranga philanthropist was also directly involved in bringing the new University of Waikato campus to Tauranga's CBD and donated money for the development of the Adams Centre for High Performance in Mount Maunganui.
Sir Paul and wife Cheryl are also known for their philanthropic support to many sporting organisations including Bay of Plenty Rugby, Tauranga Golf Club and the Tauranga Rowing Club.
Sir Paul Adams' top 10 tips for business success
Find and keep the right employees or team members to achieve business stability, security and business confidence from clients.
Sir Paul is not a fan of career changes every few years and he believes loyalty is a two-way street in business. Employees are the biggest asset in any business.
Focus on customer or client services.
Much of our business in land development is based around reciprocal trust and repeat business from builders, which has helped create the fundamental success of our business as one of the largest land developers over the last 30 years in Tauranga.
Always look at a business deal from the other party's point of view to ensure it is fair.
Always leave something in a deal for the other party even when you hold the upper hand in the negotiation. A win-win business deal is always the best outcome and likely to lead to repeat business.
If a deal looks too good to be true, then it probably is.
Be careful of scammers and fraudsters whether online, or someone trying to persuade you into a deal for a fee. Always complete sufficient due diligence to be 100 per cent confident that the deal is real.
Always prepare a business plan, including budgets, and review regularly.
Having sufficient contingency funding for any deal is imperative until a sustainable income at least matches total operating costs.
Never allow optimism to outweigh the risk in a business venture.
Plan for the best, but have a contingency plan ready if any aspect does not materialise.
Listen to what others say as you gather your thoughts in planning a business.
Get into the habit of writing notes at every meeting you attend – you will find how incredibly helpful reference notes are after a meeting, and follow that procedure at all business meetings.
Treat an oral contract or a handshake on a business deal as if it were in writing.
While it is best to have business agreements in written form, a handshake or oral contract should always be honoured as if binding.
Listen to experienced people – they can be an amazing source of knowledge.
I still reflect on the knowledge I gained in my association with senior bosses and mentors early in my career.
In essence, some things simply require repetition and mistakes to be made to hone some skills. Good judgement comes from experience and a lot of that comes from bad judgement.
Don't be afraid to be the first person to try something new.
If it doesn't work try something else.