Former lawyer Briony McKenzie, 26, founder of coaching firm Untapped, talks guiding people through change and starting up a coaching conference.

What does your business do?

Untapped is a coaching business. I primarily work with young corporates, helping them find a sense of direction. Lately I've been working with lots of entrepreneurs as well around the mind set of starting ventures and being in business. I enable people to move through the areas of their life that they are struggling with.

I started the business in August last year and took it fulltime three months later. Prior to that, I was a lawyer at Chapman Tripp.


What was the motivation for starting the business?

I went on my own personal development journey. In general, though, I see so much human potential and people that want to create change in the world but are stuck.

I've always been passionate about contributing to others and with coaching, if you empower one human being, it has ripple effects. I never thought I'd be a coach but when I realised coaching embodied all of my values, it sort of all just clicked.

How big is your team?

It's just me, I do the coaching and running of the business but I'm looking to expand. Before the end of the year I'd love to have someone supporting me, not necessarily with coaching at this point, more so liaising with people and back-end of the business, and social media, that's probably the part I struggle to find time for.

What's it like being your own boss?

Sometimes I think "wow, is this really my job". With law, I felt accomplished but really struggled to find fulfilment in what I was doing. It was hard at the start as things were uncertain; I had to go through that period of setting boundaries of when I was and wasn't to be working, and finding a community of young people doing similar was also tough because my network had been my corporate space.

I spend at least 50 hours on the business per week. It is one of those things that is always around, and as a business owner, there's less set boundaries compared to when I was working in a job.


What clients are you working with?

I have more than 40 clients, high achievers but maybe not high profile as such. A notable few include Lizzie Christmas, a Chapman Tripp lawyer who whilst working with me achieved a Fulbright Scholarship and is going to complete her Masters in Law and Entrepreneurship at Cornell Tech University in United States. Rez Gardi, Young New Zealander of the Year in 2017, a Fulbright Graduate going to complete her Masters at Harvard, Alice Marsh, founder of start-up The Good Portal and Nico Hutton, a Chapman Tripp Solicitor.

How much competition are you facing?

Not a huge amount but coaching is a really rapidly growing industry. There are definitely a lot of coaches around but most are a lot older and I think the difference with Untapped is it has quite a young focus. Also, there is a huge amount of people doing health coaching but not necessarily mindset coaching. The style of coaching I do is in a group format, and that's quite new. Typically coaching is one to one but I do group coaching and I think people enjoy it because it gives you an opportunity to connect with other people and be inspired by what other people are up to.

Briony McKenzie, founder of Untapped.
Briony McKenzie, founder of Untapped.

What are your long term plans for Untapped?

I'd love to have a team so that I'm able to do more of the coaching. I'd also like to run large-scale workshops and events, anywhere from 100 to 300 people, and to work with more with entrepreneurs as that's what I'm really passionate about.

What are you currently working on?

I don't know what it's exactly going to look like but at the moment I'm thinking about doing a conference for young entrepreneurs. A big barrier I faced when I started Untapped was being young. A lot of people said 'you're too young to coach' so I really want to help build New Zealand's community for entrepreneurs and coaches, so some kind of conference around that will happen at some point.

What advice do you give to others thinking about starting their own business?

Be really connected to why you are doing something. Starting a business is not easy, it's a challenge, but you need to have that purpose and reason why because when things get rocky and uncertain that's the path that keeps you going.