Lyn Kutia – Operations Manager, Whenua Whanau

Lyn Kutia
Operations Manager, Whenua Whanau
Clothing, Gisborne

Kim: I feel honoured that Lyn and Shivonne (co-owner and director) choose to work with me. The passion behind this business is real and infectious, and they have achieved everything by jumping in with both feet, which is simply awesome. Lyn and Shivonne are simply a joy to work with.

Walking beside them to really grow the business and the brand, the business fundamentals, systems, processes, and people, has been great.

They now have a clear and actionable business plan in place that they can scale as they grow. They have a road map, something by which to measure all their hard work, and clear lanes on who is doing what in the business.

We have an action plan that we keep focused on each month and advisory monthly meetings ensure momentum, execution and implementation, so the rubber really hits the road. I also act as a sounding board when required, which is something I know the team appreciates. 

As Lyn says, thanks to making ‘forward planning’ second-nature, Whenua Whanau can manage the difference between having a business and growing a business. It’s an undervalued asset – having good business habits firmly in place to scale, plan for, and anticipate the curves that may come, gives businesses a huge advantage over their competitors.

One of the many things that’s so satisfying about Whenua Whanau is that I was able to draw on the wider Stratigi team to develop some strategies around marketing and sales. Even business coaches need a little assistance every now and then!

: In 2021, through Trust Tairāwhiti in Gisborne and the Māori Women's Development Fund, we selected Kim for some mentoring and coaching. We had no concept of a business mentor. We started the business without anyone's help, so we thought, ‘What would they do?’

From the first meeting, we just felt like we were Nike. That’s how big we were going to be. Kim immediately helped us with our business plan and all those basic things that we hadn't even looked at; how to improve your website, engage customers, and so on.

The business plan and forward planning made a huge difference. She helped us develop that for number one. Kim made us understand the difference between having a business and growing the business. We never really looked at it that way before. We just thought, ‘Oh, we're getting orders every day. We must be doing alright.’ 

We wanted to spend money to keep her services when our allotted time was coming to an end, and I am so glad we have. Kim helps us look at things differently, on a more professional level, and just makes us feel like we can conquer the world. 

We didn't realise what we needed until we had her, and then once we had her, we never wanted to lose it. We’ll have a list of tasks, and she makes sure that we've done this, this and that or need to look at this and maybe update it.

Now we set goals and make sure that people have specific tasks, so there are no blurred lines, and that means we can develop the areas that we need to work on in the whole business; logistics, marketing, growth, roles and responsibilities, website development, all those kinds of things.

A good example is how we struggled with our pricing. We would rather sell more for less than sell something that is priced more and sells less, but Kim made us realise our own self-worth.

We wouldn't have grown as much as we have, and we still aspire to grow more. Kim has shown us that there's so much more potential – that we don't just have to stop here, we can keep growing – and that's something we would never have looked at.

In our first year, we turned over $120,000. We thought if we could double that the following year, or even go to $250,000, that would be great, but we’ve smashed that. That’s all from her mentoring and telling us that we can do it.

Kim helps us stay on the straight and narrow, fine-tuning what we already had, but making sure we're always moving forward and that there's always another goal to hit. We couldn't do any of this without her, and that’s why we've kept her. We would have made sure that Kim was a normal cost of running our business. That’s how good she is to us.