At each stage of the business lifecycle the entrepreneur must bring a distinct set of skills and attitudes to the task.
We know that New Zealand is a nation of small-to-midsized enterprises. Some 97 percent of all business have less than 20 employees. But not many grow into mid-sized businesses. Yet we know how important mid-sized and large businesses are for creating wealth, employment, exports and IP.
The question that we must answer is ‘why?’ Why do so few small businesses kick on to become genuine, sustainable businesses that are independent of their founders? No doubt there are a host of reasons, including access to capital and markets, training and talent. There may be industry-specific reasons. For example, there’s growing evidence that the technology sector is growing companies of genuine scale, but other industries haven’t been able to replicate that model.
We chose to focus on the importance of leadership and ambition.
Research undertaken by KPMG partnering with Colmar Brunton shows measurable differences in the attitudes and leadership styles of small and medium-sized enterprises.
If we’re to grow our enterprises then cultivating those attitudes and styles is critical. So what are those attributes of the medium-sized businesses and how did they develop them? Consistent themes emerged about what kind of people lead medium-sized enterprises, their leadership styles and ambitions and how these changed as their businesses evolved over time.
We have characterised these people as ‘entrepreneurial leaders’ as opposed to ‘managers’.
The entrepreneurial leader
Over the course of many discussions with successful medium-sized firms, the character traits of the entrepreneurial leader emerged.
These are often inherent traits, but they can also be learned, and in being learned, can be cemented into the company culture by entrepreneurial leaders. Both the learning of the traits, and the process by which they are handed down within a business to ensure its survival, are keys to growing a small business into an entity capable of handing growth.
Putting together entrepreneurial traits, where the business is at the lifecycle, and talking to those that show these traits at different stages in their own journeys has given us a clear picture for the kinds of factors that affect leaders and their people at each vital stage.
Download the full KPMG Enterprise Report to find out more.