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Napier-based entrepreneur studies business to prepare for next venture

Eastern Institute of Technology learner Bruce Graham, who has run a cafe in Napier for the past eight years, is by no means new to the business of business.

In 2012, Bruce decided to capitalize on his passion for food and experience as a food technologist by starting a new café with his wife.

While they didn’t have formal business training, they worked as a team and learned administration and accounting skills on the job, with the support of their accountant.

After a great run, last year, the couple decided that it was time to sell the café and start thinking about their next adventure.

“It just reached a point where we didn’t want to carry on in that field,” Bruce said.

Bruce acknowledges that the drop in tourists due to the Coivd-19 pandemic made it particularly difficult for business owners and workers in the hospitality industry.

“Here in Napier, a lot of cruise ships used to come in. When they don’t come in, turnover just drops,” he said.

Bruce sees himself embarking on a new business venture in the near future. However, after closing the café, he decided to take some time out to upskill to prepare himself for his next step.

Last year, Bruce enrolled in the New Zealand Certificate in Business (Account Support Services) with EIT. This programme helps learners gain skills in managing the accounts of small to medium-sized businesses, with topics that include tax, legislation, payroll and technical calculations.

Keen to study at his own pace and on his own schedule, Bruce decided to study online using eCampus NZ. Bruce quickly got into a study routine that worked for him, and he found the experience very rewarding.

“I thought the certificate was really interesting. It gave me a greater understanding of things I had superficial knowledge of through my experience in business, like payroll,” said Bruce.

“It also showed me where to look for information and resources, and helped me learn what to trust,” he says.

Bruce successfully completed the certificate last year, but this wasn’t the end of his learning journey. He enjoyed the certificate so much that he decided to enrol in the New Zealand Diploma of Business, which he began in January of this year. Again, Bruce chose the online option.

“Learning online was more enjoyable that I thought it would be, because it fits into your life,” he said.

Bruce admits that the Diploma programme is a “step up”.

“There’s a lot more research involved!” he said.

However, Bruce is keen to rise to the challenge, and he’s excited about the specialist knowledge he’ll gain through the qualification.

“I’m really looking forward to choosing an area of business to concentrate on once I’ve finished the core papers, like project management or accounting,” he said.

As to his next venture, Bruce already has some ideas about where he’ll go next, but he’s not quite ready to share them. We’ll be watching this space!

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