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SMEs have big business ambition, but lifestyle still important: survey

An ASB-commissioned survey shows significant proportions of owners of Kiwi businesses with revenues of between $5 million and $25 million want to enter new markets and hire more staff in the short term.

Perceptive Research’s poll of 450 companies nationally revealed 54 percnt wanted to achieve double digit revenue growth in the upcoming year, 41 percent wanted to enter new markets in the next two years, 56 percent wanted to create new products and services “in the short term” and 42 percent wanted to grow their staff numbers this year.

Another 15 percent said they wanted to raise capital in the next five years. Overall, 66 percent of respondents said they wanted to build a business with national or international ambitions.

However, when business owners were asked if they were more concerned with achieving a great lifestyle for their family than conquering the world, 79 percent said yes and 21 percent said no, while 60 percent wanted to do more with their family outside of work next year.

“There’s no doubt that New Zealand business owners have enormous ambition – but the nature of that ambition is incredibly varied,” says ASB’s executive general manager, corporate, commercial and rural, Steve Jurkovich.

ASB says it wants to connect business owners with funding, advice and knowledge.

“The challenge for business is how to grow beyond that $5 million revenue mark, and how to keep early momentum going,” says Jurkovich.

“New Zealand has a strong culture around helping start-ups, but what happens to a company once it starts to really grow? Owners said that they get little support, little guidance and all too often the opportunity is squandered. The risk is that the company can stagnate and productivity declines.”

When it asked how businesses defined ambition, answers included the words desire, goals, growth, vision, innovation and strive, along with balancing time in the office with leisure time.

One respondent wanted, “Enough freedom to do what I want when I want, and to help who I want,” while another owner wanted to “work with amazing businesses doing new things”.

ASB has also launched a TV campaign, The Ambition to Succeed On. It features the logos of several Kiwi exporters, including Xero, with whom it has a technology innovation partnership, tourism company Jucy, cloud tech firm GeoOp and Greenlea Meats.


Amanda Sachtleben is an Auckland writer and social media type, who's also Idealog's former tech editor and business journalist.

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