Peo­ple get ideas ‘off the ground’

How to save small towns

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS - By BAR­BARA WITHING­TON

Res­i­dents not bu­reau­crats will save small town New Zealand ac­cord­ing to a Dan­nevirkeMBA scholar.

An­nette Kendall spoke to about 40 peo­ple from across Cen­tral Otago last week, giv­ing them some ba­sic ideas to en­cour­age devel­op­ment.

‘‘Shut up and lis­ten to what some­one with a good idea has to say, find what it is they want to do, and ask how can I help you do it’’ Kendall said.

‘‘You don’t mo­ti­vate it or in­sti­gate it be­cause if you have to drive it, when you leave it falls over.’’

Af­ter a rough start in life, Kendall was mo­ti­vated to go to univer­sity at 30 as ‘‘I needed a piece of pa­per to prove I could do what I was do­ing any­way.’’

Tack­ling an MBA, she found that al­most all busi­ness stud­ies had been con­ducted in ei­ther Auck­land or Christchurch and noone was look­ing af­ter ru­ral New Zealand, so she chose to study her home town with its empty shops and fail­ing busi­nesses.

‘‘I likened it to look­ing in my pantry and strug­gling to find some­thing I could cook, when a masterchef comes along and takes that, that, and that and pro­duces a gourmet meal. They see what you don’t.’’ What she found was peo­ple who had good ideas but they had never shared them for fear of fail­ure or ridicule.

‘‘What ev­ery ba­sic busi­ness needs is at least three peo­ple, one who is good at ser­vice or mak­ing things, one who can mar­ket the prod­uct and one who can man­age the fi­nance. We need to stop per­pet­u­at­ing the myth that peo­ple can do ev­ery­thing them­selves.’’

Kendall also stressed the im­por­tance of each area sup­port­ing those who come up with the new ideas.

‘‘The cul­ture must be sup­port­ive of en­trepreneurs, peo­ple who want to put ev­ery­thing into mak­ing some­thing work, iden­ti­fy­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties other peo­ple can’t see, peo­ple whose heart and soul is in the district.’’

She sug­gested the best thing any coun­cil could do was fund a free con­fi­den­tial ser­vice for busi­ness peo­ple, with a pool of avail­able peo­ple to help get ideas off the ground.

‘‘The coun­cils need to get away from the top down ap­proach to economic devel­op­ment, stop try­ing to at­tract big busi­ness or purely fo­cus on tourism and work with the talented peo­ple you al­ready have here. Frankly this coun­cil [Cen­tral Otago District Coun­cil] has demon­strated an in­cred­i­bly in­no­va­tive ap­proach in be­ing at least open to have this con­ver­sa­tion.’’

She en­cour­aged any­one to ‘‘go find your tribe’’.

‘‘Tell your story, keep telling your story un­til you find some­one who looks at you, their eyes light up and they say I know what you mean. And look to the young peo­ple, they have won­der­ful ideas that just need some­one to be­lieve in them.’’

Photo: BAR­BARA WITHING­TON

Sharing ideas: Ru­ral New Zealand busi­ness pro­po­nent An­nette Kendall is flanked by Amy Scott, left, and Sharon Waples from the Alexan­dra Youth Forum who were ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the even­ing.

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