Networking for firms

MARTA STEEMAN
Last updated 14:25 02/09/2012
Useful tips: Bryce Robb, far right, the leader/organiser of a new networking gorup called Fit4Business at their weekly meeting in the Old Vicarage in Halswell.
Stacy Squires
Useful tips: Bryce Robb, far right, the leader/organiser of a new networking gorup called Fit4Business at their weekly meeting in the Old Vicarage in Halswell.

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Arborist Bryce Robb has launched a new business networking group for small businesses in Christchurch which he believes will help small business owners overcome isolation.

His third group, based around businesses in Sydenham, is getting established. Two others operate in Riccarton and Halswell and he intends to start one in St Albans.

Fit4Business aims to link businesses regularly to share goals and knowledge and learn from each other, as well as outside specialists.

For Robb, this new networking business is not yet profitable but he believes it will be. The cost is $69 a month to join and a $50 administration fee.

The network had about 30 members so far and he thinks 10 to 12 in a group is probably a good number.

The members are a diverse bunch, with each group meeting once a week where they talk about business issues and have regular speakers.

Recently a debt collector who is a member talked to a group about those issues for small businesses and Robb says it is usually a member who drives the education slot each week. Outside speakers may come in once a month.

The members include an accountant, builder, hairdresser, financial planner, a graphic artist, business coach, lawyer, and an executive from a large local company.

Robb says there is an emphasis on being mentally and physically in shape and the aim is for each member to commit to some regular exercise.

The group looks for members with a positive attitude who want to share knowledge and add value to the group.

Small businesses in Christchurch have been through a rough patch and many are still struggling and stressed, he says. Many are looking at ways to strengthen their businesses and get into different areas as part of their recovery from the earthquakes.

Each member has a buddy who helps them meet the regular tasks and goals they set themselves. The tasks may be as simple as deciding to spend a set time with family, or doing some regular exercise, even just a walk around the block a few times a week. The more athletic types have committed to much more.

Robb's main job is an arborist and landscaper. He's a firm believer in having a business coach and has had one for seven years.

"It's not cheap," Robb says, but without one he would not be in business.

"I was a typical business owner who did everything. No one else could do it as well as me."

His coach taught him to delegate and he has been able to expand his tree-cutting business.

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