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Despite having a graphic design portfolio spanning 13 years, Karen McEldowney wasn’t looking to make the leap from employee to business owner, until the opportunity fell into her lap. Since then, with help from a Venture Taranaki Business Start-Up clinic, she hasn’t looked back, and business is booming.

When the owner of the company Karen worked for – C7 Design – was looking to change direction he offered to sell the business to his lead designer.

“Opportunity knocked, and even though it wasn’t a real ambition of mine it was too good to pass up. Now I really love it!”

“This is definitely something that I just couldn’t have done in a bigger centre. In Wellington the costs are higher across all aspects, it’s far more competitive, and there just aren’t the same opportunities to network and collaborate,” Karen says.

“It’s just so much easier here.”

Karen was already aware of Venture Taranaki’s Start-Up clinics, and booked in as soon as she had the reins. 

“It was a fantastic opportunity to bounce my ideas for the company off an experienced advisor, and very reassuring to know that I was on the right track and had made a good move. It was also really valuable in putting together a plan for the business and to strengthen my ideas around where I wanted the company to go.”

Business has taken off, with a number of new clients, and steady growth from her existing clients.

“In Taranaki I’m finding that you can specialise – you don’t need to cover all bases to make ends meet. I’ve focused on print design and have built up a great network of
other local specialists that I can work with as needed, depending on the project.

“This results in full-service design without the overheads of a big agency, meaning Taranaki businesses can make the most of design to get their brand out there. It doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated to work well.”

When it comes to advice to others looking to take the leap into business ownership, Karen advises joining as many business networking groups as possible – again a reflection on how social business is in Taranaki – and getting a good group of business advisors behind you.

“Venture Taranaki is definitely on that list.”

 
  Growing Taranaki design - C7  
 

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