Episode 1

Saturday 10 January, 8.30pm on TV One

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of business start-up in the world – and one of the highest rates of failure. But to stop the rot, Peter Leitch and his trusty CEO Mike Morton are sharing their business advice on TV ONE’s local series A Mad Business (tonight at 8.30pm). Having built a sausage empire with more than 37 stores and a turnover of $200 million, this duo are straight-talking, don’t pull any punches, and know the rules of business.

Business is tough, especially for small and medium-sized businesses. People from all over New Zealand are lining up to be rescued from a variety of issues, and while everyone gets straight-talking advice, no one gets off lightly. Mike Morton is the business brains and Peter Leitch is the balls. They don’t sugar-coat their opinions and their business coaching approach is somewhat unusual but always effective. Episode one sees Nicki and Dan, young owners of an upmarket homeware store in Newmarket. In their late 20s when they opened their store, this duo had big plans and beautiful dreams for the business. But with little capital they borrowed heavily to stock the large store, and are struggling under the workload and the growing debt.

Before he’s even through the door, Peter Leitch has assassinated the signage and given Nicki his opinion of the poor location: “To be fair, we wouldn’t put a Mad Butcher store here.” Once in the store, he is even less impressed, spotting a couple of flaws instantly. He’s concerned by the size of the store for combating theft, and is appalled by the lack and size of any signs. But Nikki is equally unimpressed by his suggested improvements and says it all costs money.

“Don’t talk bloody bull to me,” says Leitch. “You can go to Whitcoulls, buy a bit of paper and a crayon, make a sign. You don’t have to have a designer bloody signs, you might be in a design area, but do you want to sell bloody stuff or not?”

He believes everyone loves a bargain. “Doctors, lawyers, politicians, they all love a bargain. I’ve been in retail near 40 years and one thing I can guarantee you – everyone loves a bargain.”

And while Nicki feels bogged down doing everything for business, Leitch thinks she needs to share the workload: “One of the arts of being successful in business is delegation. Hence I’ve got Michael. Michael does all the work now, and I just look over his shoulder.”

Financial analyst Mike Toon was just 27 when he grew sick of the daily grind. He threw in his well-paying job, convinced his parents to be guarantors and bought a mini-golf course in Onehunga. But mini-golf has not been the easy money Mike dreamed of.

Toon says, “I knew I liked mini-golf and from my financial analyst background, I thought if I get enough people in, I’ll be laughing all the way to the bank. I thought it would be tough. But usually, I always land on my feet and I thought I would be able to handle it. I was a little wrong. It’s a lot of effort and instead of running the business; the business seems to run me. At the moment my mini-golf course isn’t covering all costs I’m losing a couple of hundred a week.” He says being a financial analyst, he thought he’d be good at business plans, but things aren’t adding up.

Also on tonight’s episode, is Attic Tea, a company formed by five members of an MBA class. Wanting to put their business lessons into practice and enticed by the huge profit margins in tea, they’ve imported and packaged 75,000 units of Chinese green tea. But the reality of selling is not as easy as it looked in the books, and the limited shelf life of tea is compounding the company’s problems. Time is ticking away while the owners of Attic Tea fail to find a market.


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