Canterbury-based Pivot & Pace releases groundbreaking research on growth barriers
A recent survey conducted by Canterbury-based company Pivot & Pace reveals that the primary obstacle hindering the growth of medium-sized businesses in New Zealand is the struggle to forecast future workloads and establish systems to find or develop staff with the necessary skill sets.
The findings, which were based on anonymised and desensitised data collected over the past eight years and generated through an in-depth examination of 75 medium-sized Kiwi businesses, shed light on the challenges faced by companies with 20 to 150+ employees and revenue ranging from $5 million to $30 million. The research utilised a generative AI tool (ChatGPT 3.5) to identify six common barriers across various sectors.
“The most common barrier across all sectors was a lack of a three-year strategy for identifying key capabilities, including leadership, they’ll need in the future,” said Greg Allnut, Pivot & Pace partner and strategic advisor. “This includes businesses not having a global view for identifying and finding talent as they enter a period of growth.”
Allnutt notes that 46% of businesses cited a lack of in-house expertise and staff capacity as their primary hurdle during growth periods, with challenges in recruiting skilled staff and providing adequate training or growth opportunities also ranking high.
Communication and collaboration emerged as a key barrier for 42% of businesses, followed closely by marketing focus and branding (39%), leadership and accountability (38%), operational efficiency and process improvement (33%), and strategy execution and alignment (30%).
Dr. Elsamari Botha, MBA director at the University of Canterbury, emphasises the challenges businesses face in upskilling and training staff.
“In a world that is changing at an accelerating rate, the need for constant upskilling and training becomes increasingly important. Education solutions need to be flexible and accessible to working individuals,” Dr Botha says.
Success in growth strategy
Highlighting success in overcoming growth challenges is former Pivot & Pace client Seequent, a global leader in earth-modelling and collaboration software.
Seequent's growth trajectory from one employee in 2004 to 700 employees across 20 offices worldwide showcases effective strategies in attracting talent and managing expertise. Graham Grant, CEO of Seequent, underscores the importance of developing HR systems to attract talent both onshore and offshore.
“Seequent grew from one employee in 2004 to 700 employees, working across 20 offices worldwide today,” Grant said. “Attracting good staff and ensuring we had the expertise we needed inhouse was definitely our biggest hurdle in our early days. It’s something most business owners struggle with.”
“It wasn’t until we developed HR systems that enabled us to attract good talent offshore as well as onshore that we were able to grow efficiently,” he said, highlighting that the insights derived from the research provide valuable guidance for business leaders navigating the complexities of fast-growing enterprises.
Supporting the growth of medium-sized businesses vital for the economy
According to Allnutt, supporting the growth of medium-sized businesses is vital for New Zealand's economy.
“Supporting our medium-sized businesses to grow into larger, global players is one of the most important things New Zealand can do to create jobs, grow export earnings and develop a high wage economy.”
In another survey conducted by Pivot & Pace, of the 800 Kiwi business leaders surveyed, a staggering 61% lacked a clear strategy for business growth.