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kate de Lautour

 Massage therapist Amanda Bell moved from Auckland to Napier to start her own business, Napier City Massage Therapy, in 2010. Specialising in a diverse range of massage including pregnancy, therapeutic and oncology massage, it didn’t take long for the business to take off.

 When she made the decision to move premises last year, Amanda needed help with the tenancy negotiation process and so she called a mentor.

What was happening with your business when you needed advice?

I had made the move from Auckland, for lifestyle reasons, and was really happy, with an excellent and growing client base. However I needed to move from the premises I was in, in Emerson Street.

 I looked at great rooms in Station Street and really fell in love with them, but found I couldn’t afford the cost.

So, not knowing what to do, in the middle of the night I called the mentor service and left a message for them to call me back. The next morning I had a call from mentor Ron Massey and that’s when things started to look up.

 So, how did Ron help you?

 For starters, he brought me back to earth and made me realise my dreams were unrealistic. Then he guided me through the negotiation process – I didn’t even realise I could negotiate on leases! To tell you the truth, I had no experience with property and I just needed guidance.

 The result was, I found the perfect, welcoming and warm, premises in Tourism House in Dickens Street and was able to complete at a price that was perfect for my business.

 Since then, Ron has been there to bounce around ideas on pricing and marketing and always has titbits of business information to keep me on track.

 How is the business tracking now?

It’s going really well and I regret not being self-employed earlier! I wasn’t cut out for office politics.

 With very few worries about the financial side of the business, I am really enjoying my work. The pregnancy massage is so rewarding, especially because women can lie on their front on a special pillow and it gives them a great deal of relaxation. I also love the fact that I have the chance to work with cancer patients as a volunteer at the Cancer Society and that my business allows me to offer the service.

What is your advice to other business owners considering engaging a mentor?

 It keeps your feet on the ground with sound practical advice – I think every business owner should have a mentor, particularly if you are on your own.

Saying that, a friend of mine had a mentor in Auckland who played an important role in mediating between the husband and wife business partnership!


Napier City Council is the Hawke's Bay agent for Business Mentors New Zealand, which runs seventeen agencies throughout the country. It matches mentors to businesses and is a free service apart from a one-off registration fee of $150 + GST.

Around 20 mentors have been assigned to support Hawke's Bay businesses for up to two years and 50 businesses in the region apply to use the service each year. The mentors help develop business plans and provide on-going support to those businesses.

 Hawke’s Bay has been awarded top national Mentor Agency (as rated by the clients) for the last 2 years, and continues to be top in NZ for the first quarter of 2012 with 90% customer satisfaction.