Four years ago, Steven Allan’s life took a significant pivot. He injured his back and unable to work as a concrete pumper, enrolled in a business course at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa with a friend.
He thought the course, Certificate in Small Business and Project Management, would be a good way for him to upskill and get a management job, but it ended up being the catalyst for starting a successful business.
While managing immense physical pain and grieving for the life he thought he would lead, he attended classes with kaiako Ra Winiata at the Tauranga campus, learning about business plans, compliance, tax, and finances. He recalls being in so much pain once he had to lie down at the back of the classroom. But something Ra said in an early class stuck with him.
“He said we’d all be able to start a business by the end of the year. I found that so empowering. He didn’t know us, or anything about us, but he believed we could all start a business.”
This was where the spark started for Steven, and fortunately, his wife was already working on it. After observing her gaining respect with her cleaning skills, Steven decided to turn it into a proper business, providing a residential cleaning service. In November 2021, with the skills and knowledge learned from his studies, he did just that. Within four months, their revenue grew 700%, and they secured contracts with Fulton Hogan. They now employ three cleaners and have had to cap their client list to ensure they provide the same standard of care.
Steven continued his studies with Ra, completing the Diploma in Small Business and Project Management in 2022. It was a struggle sometimes – both the pain and the course requirements – but with Ra’s support, he was able to complete both courses. Steven feels very lucky to have had Ra as his kaiako and sees him as a mentor.
“The best thing was being able to ask Ra anything, anytime. He’s always there to talk or to help you.”
Steven values his time with Te Wānanga o Aotearoa for the inclusive and welcoming environment on campus. This experience has helped him approach managing staff within his business differently, playing to each person’s strengths and individuality. He now has a strong vision of what is good practice and what is important in business.
“It’s about the people, how you treat them. Business is the same; it is all about the people”.
Steven has big goals for 2023. He has 3, 5, and 10 year plans for the current business, and a new venture he is considering starting. He’s pleased he took his leap of faith, and encourages those considering studying to do the same.
“If you are considering doing something like this, you should go for it. Don’t keep waiting for the opportunity; you could be waiting forever. Just do it!”