Business ambition is changing in NZ – we now want it all

15 August 2014 / Published in Business

ASB’s Executive General Manager Corporate, Commercial and Rural, Steve Jurkovich shares insights from a recent survey commissioned to better understand the ambitions of New Zealand businesses and how ASB plans to help businesses achieve their ambitions.

ASB has commissioned research* into how ambitious New Zealand businesses are, and the era of the “she’ll be right” approach to running a company is falling behind us.

I’m pleased to say more than 70 per cent of businesses surveyed said they wouldn’t be stopping at a “boat, a bach and a BMW” – quite a change of heart from 2009 when NZ Trade and Enterprise found Kiwi business owners preferred to sell once they’d created an amount of wealth that met their initial goals, instead of pushing on to build strong national or even international businesses.

It’s the ultimate dichotomy in New Zealand – we want global success and businesses that deliver tremendous results but at the same time we’re here for the lifestyle. No point working ourselves into an early grave and missing out on our beautiful country, time with family and friends and generally living life itself.

Our research bears this out. Next year business owners want to achieve double digit revenue growth (54 per cent of them) but also do more with their family outside work (60 per cent).

Finding that balance is what business is like for medium-sized companies in New Zealand.

In the survey, 54 per cent of respondents wanted to double revenue next year. Forty-one per cent plan on entering new markets in the next two years, whether that be Asia, Australia or elsewhere or a new vertical market here at home.

We know you can’t do it alone. Nearly half are looking for information and help around IT and innovation, around how to attract and retain top staff and how to market their business. Just under 40 per cent are seeking advice on how to enter new markets and one third would like support building a sales team and managing staff.

We asked how businesses define “ambition”. The answers range from the expected through to the aspirational. Words like “desire” and “goals” and “growth” crop up repeatedly, but also “vision”, “innovation” and “strive”. There’s a desire to balance time in the office with time at play, and a keenness not to sacrifice one for the other. Kiwis want to have it all, it would seem.

“Enough freedom to do what I want when I want, and to help who I want,” says one particularly Kiwi respondent and that idea of working hard but also giving back shines through.

“I have a goal to experience more and work with amazing businesses doing new things,” says another business owner, clearly with one eye on the future.

Here at ASB we want to help connect Kiwi businesses with their ambitions and we’re going to start by connecting you with resources, advice, knowledge and like-minded pioneers.

At ASB we want to help you build your business. We’re keen to partner with you on your journey, to help where we can and to connect you with the resources you need and with others who have done what you’re doing.

One quarter of businesses told us they want to be a global operator and another 41 per cent said they want a company with a national footprint. These are tremendous ambitions for your business – ASB wants to make those connections that will help you achieve your goals.

Rod Drury is one of those business leaders who have already achieved this level of success. Rod sold his first company in 1999, four years after setting it up. His second, he sold for US$15m in 2006 and with that funding he started Xero which today is worth around $3 billion.

Throughout all of that, Rod’s aim has been to “build a billion dollar business from the beach”, an ambition he’s clearly achieved.

We want you to achieve your goals and we want to do more than just mind your hard-earned cash. At ASB we want to help you achieve your ambition to succeed on.

*Perceptive Research, August 2014, nationwide email survey of n=450 businesses with revenues of $5m+


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