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Connected Golden Spheres

Networks and Business Support 

Networks and Communities 

Throughout the Master's I have constantly been scanning for existing networks, communities and forums targeted and females, mothers and female business owners.  There is such a large range of these that I was never going to be able to understand and engage with them all. I joined a number of these different groups and forums to passively engage in them by seeing what sort of discussions were taking place. They were also a good source of recruitment for my survey and interviews. I chose to be more engaged with two of the networks; She Owns It and She Evolves. I selected these two based on recommendations from people that were involved in the network and my own perspective of the value they would provide for my project. I supplemented observations along with a range of user conversations I had with females I met throughout my project where I would discuss my project and get their thoughts. 

The two networks I got involved with were She Evolves and She Owns It. 

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She Evolves

She Evolves was established as a community for women who are at a point of evolution in their life and are looking for a group to learn from and engage with to help them on this journey. 

One  valuable thing about joining this community is that it was only just forming so I could see how a community can be built from the ground up 

My involvement in this group has been connecting via the group's Facebook page, I attended a retreat in Fiji with 60 other women from around the world that had a number of speakers and workshops, and I have been actively engaged with the group from the retreat via a What's App that sprung up organically post the retreat. 

She Owns It

She Owns It is a large New Zealand Network for female business owners as well as a directory of women-owned businesses. It was established as a way for female business owners to connect, reach out for help and support each other professionally. It was recommended by a number of friends who get great value out of the network.

 

There are free Facebook pages to join and connect with as well as a members group with over 800 members with a paywall. This also gives you access to a range of resources created by the community, and events such as virtual co-working and webinars etc. 

Key elements that I experienced being part of these networks reinforced much of my interview and survey data, as well as the literature I had reviewed. Being a small business owner is a lonely role, and these networks provide much-needed camaraderie for like-minded people to have human connection, a place to go for help and a place to share their successes. They often do not know where to start when looking for services or resources etc. and they value the recommendations of what has become a trusted network. I see people from both networks connect outside of the online platforms that they are on. 

I also noted that it is very reliant on having active curators of the networks to ensure that continuous value and connection are being delivered through the platform for people to stay engaged. Alexis Dean runs a community for female entrepreneurs in Canada and was a speaker at  She Evolves. I really liked her statement that "community isn't something that you get until it is something that you do".  This is something I have taken into my work recently as I have been forming a regional client strategy team and have really focused on actively building a community amongst the team and it is paying real dividends. 

I asked the networks themselves what value they got from being part of them. These word clouds are the words of the ladies themselves. 

She Evolves

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She Owns It  

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Small Business Support System  in New Zealand 

My ecosystem scanning revealed a large range of resources, businesses and agencies that can provide support for small businesses across the spectrum of their operations. The Small Business Council provides a framework through which these can be categorised. and identified

Industry Associations Represent and promote their particular industry and the interests of members. Typically provide members with a range of services eg training, information, resources, networking events etc. 

Chamber of Commerce and Employer Associations 

A national network of 30 chambers that supports the success of businesses.  Keep members well informed on important business and economy-related matters. They provide members with services such as training and advocacy as well as networking. 

Service Providers 

Companies that provide services to small businesses often provide additional support/services eg banks. 

Government Support Initiatives 

Wide range of various support initiatives across various government agencies 

Better for Business 

Focuses on supporting businesses to have a better experience with government across the 10 agencies that businesses engage with. 

Business.govt.nz

Free government online resource dedicated to supporting small businesses - tools and advice from across government and private sector 

Regional Business Partner Network 

Help small businesses to connect with the right resources and experts to develop and grow. https://www.regionalbusinesspartners.co.nz/ 

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE)

Customised services and support to NZ businesses wanting to grow overseas. 

Callaghan Innovation 

Supports hi-tech businesses to grow faster through the provision of a range of services including connections to the NZ ecosystem, workshops etc. 

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment 

This includes business.govt.nz, Business Connect, Small business collective - responsible for delivering the small business strategy. 

Private sector 

Organisations they deal with regularly. These are mostly located in the private sector

 

Throughout my interviews and survey, I found that there was a low level of awareness of the resources available. Even when there are amazing and targeted organisations such as Digital Boost that could provide specific help in digitising businesses, they are still not being utilised by many. 

This reinforces the ADKAR approach to change management that I have discussed in previous assignments. This is where the 5 ADKAR steps need to be followed in sequence to embed channel awareness, desire, knowledge, ability and reinforcement. The different businesses show that knowledge is available, but the awareness and desire to engage with them are not there for many. If I continue with my plan to build an engagement platform post the master's, I would like to be able to raise awareness and desire for the different resources that are available to support small businesses. 

There are already companies with a similar kaupapa that have curated and shared links to these for businesses to freely access. Here are a couple of examples. 

New Zealand Growth Capital Partners has shared links relating to female founders 

The founders Institute has created a platform to crowd-source this information 

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