By Iulia Leilua – (3 minute read)

I want to acknowledge everyone who’s supported me while I’ve been on my business journey.  It might look easy but it’s actually really really hard turning my hustle into business.  Every business owner knows this.

For me, it started because of something instinctive in me that said, “I can do something great.  There’s something I’m meant to do.”

But instinct’s not enough.  It requires courage because you will have fear, it requires tenacity because you won’t always have the money, and it requires focus because the people around you may not support you.

The other day my daughter got me to listen Bishop TD Jakes talking about entrepreneurship and his new book ‘Soar’.  He had a good analogy for going from a 9 to 5 job into a business.

“Like a lion in the cage looking through the bars at the wild I could’ve ran in, and stayed behind the cage because the food was free,” says Bishop Jakes.  “I’d rather chase down my dinner than to die in my cage.”

That’s me, a lioness running in the wild chasing my food, but I don’t want to end up a starving skeleton on the plains getting eaten by something else.  We are living in turbulent times and more people are trying to replace or subsidise their incomes.

“Entrepreneurship can help us survive the turbulence of these times—this is an opportunity to redirect our energies toward our God-given gifts and talents to provide for our families better,” says Bishop Jakes.

When I began I had a scatter gun approach – trying to connect to ‘corporates’ and ‘business organisations’ which was too broad.  After months of trying to refine my target audience for my cultural intelligence products, I realised my ideal clients are actually white middle-class men aged 30 and over.

The kind of people I really know nothing about.  I know Māori men.  I know Pacific men.  But not Pākehā middle class men.

If I was to be honest, I could go a whole week sometimes without having a meaningful conversation with one of my ideal clients.  How do I know they’re my ideal client?  Because they lead or own the businesses and organisations which employ or affect our Māori and Pacific peoples in central/local government, SMEs (manufacturing, transport, postal, warehousing and healthcare) and not for profits.

And why is it important for them to have more meaningful engagement with their Maori and Pacific stakeholders?

Because it helps build relationships and trust. It improves team proficiency and performance, helps them expand into new markets, retain and recruit staff and increase productivity.

It can also create a more inclusive workplace and help reduce poverty.  So today I’m starting a campaign to reach out to my ideal clients, going in with the attitude of serving so I can see what it takes to lead them.

There’s a famous Samoan proverb which says, “O le ala i le puleo le tautua – the pathway to leadership is through service.”

Which to me means that the deliberate extension of goodness, generosity and wisdom will have huge power in my challenging quest to chase my dinner, and turn hustle into business.

Special thanks to the following people who have supported my endeavours: Ngapeita, Dad and Sarah, Uncle Fred, Michelle Bristow, Stella Muller, Veronique Chiplin, Faumuina Maria Ifopo Tafuna’i, Paula Eason, Alex Donaghy, Kirsten Back Mueller, Ngahuia Wade and the ladies at my Legacy group.