People get ideas ‘off the ground’
How to save small towns
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.’’
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.