Having a mentor supported Pure SEO founder Richard Conway while he captured a gap in the New Zealand market for search engine optimisation.
Richard Conway started Pure SEO in 2009 after moving to New Zealand from the UK with his wife. He saw a gap in the market, but he didn’t know anyone in New Zealand. He joined several networking groups to get connected which he said was “difficult at first but became easier”.
Six months later he decided to get a business mentor and contacted Kerry Carr at the Auckland Central office of Business Mentors New Zealand.
His first mentor focussed on making connections and marketing the business, but Richard got to the point where he needed some strategic and financial guidance.
“There have been points where I looked at acquisition or selling part of the business so having opinions on that is helpful,” he said.
His second and current mentor is Matthew Abel who is a consultant in public financial management and spends time working on aid projects in the Pacific and developing countries – projects related to small business development or financial management in government.
The relationship with his mentor has evolved from Matthew giving his opinion and advice – particularly speaking from his experience – to now a more level relationship where Matthew acts as a sounding board for ideas.
“I value his opinion. Having a mentor has definitely helped me. Often it doesn’t need to be anything more than clarifying something in my mind – crystallising it.
“Having a business mentor helps with personal times too. I would consider Matthew a friend now,” said Richard.
Matthew Abel became a mentor because of his interest in business. He said he enjoys learning about businesses – the successes they have and the challenges they face.
“As a mentor, I go and see the needs for the individual business and see how they can be addressed,” he said.
Pure SEO’s business has grown remarkably over the past few years. Mentor Matthew acknowledges that Richard Conway is one of the most successful business owners he has mentored. And he says that having someone to talk to outside the business is something that is really valued particularly in smaller businesses.
“With any business owner sometimes they have a big problem they can’t share with staff or they are worried about the future of the business but cannot talk to staff about it, so to have a mentor to bounce ideas off helps them clarify the solution.
“Richard gets on well with his accountant and other people. He seeks advice from other people, which is good. Often people don’t have someone they feel they can discuss the books with, or they don’t want to have to pay for the time of a professional.
“Mentoring helps you to link into a network, and along with joining the Chamber gives you an idea about the local environment, about business and exposure to new ideas. A bigger business might have its own board of directors or its own established network but it is more of a challenge for smaller businesses,” said Matthew.
Richard and Matthew meet every 3 months now, but initially it was more frequent.
“Once you know the business there is not much more you need to see. I am hoping to see the action plans for the Pure SEO business for the next 3-6 months next time we meet,” Matthew said.
When Richard Conway started the business there were just 12 or 13 employees. Now Pure SEO has 180 clients in a range of industries including Fletcher Building, Subaru, and The Heart Foundation. The business has grown largely through word of mouth and the success of the last couple of years has culminated in winning the New Zealand competition for the “Google All Stars” in July this year. And a visit to the GooglePlex in San Francisco – a career highlight for Richard.