24 Nov 2009

Delegating 'essential' for overseas success

7:10 am on 24 November 2009

Icebreaker founder Jeremy Moon agrees with a report that says New Zealand managers need to let go of the need to be completely self-reliant if they want to develop their businesses to their full international potential.

The report, from Trade and Enterprise, lists self-reliance and the No 8 wire attitude as one of several cultural traits that can stifle business growth.

Mr Moon says delegating is essential, especially when entering other markets like the United States.

When tackling that market himself, he says, he sought out local experts who understood the environment, and appointed one to head Icebreaker's US arm.

Such an approach can also help to overcome cultural differences between supplier and customer, Mr Moon says.

Can do, but often won't

The report says New Zealanders are good at initiating business ventures, thanks to qualities such as resourcefulness and adaptability.

However, the can-do No 8 wire mentality is not enough to translate good ideas into wealth and New Zealanders rate poorly when it comes to following through and expanding businesses.

Their management style - the report says - is affected by a number of factors, including the tall poppy syndrome and the tendency to value leisure pursuits over creating wealth.

The report says international studies rank New Zealand as the most entrepreneurial in the world after Thailand, but 26th out of 36 countries when it comes to producing high-growth businesses.

Trade and Enterprise chief economist Gareth Chaplin says that is partly because of the importance New Zealanders place on some lifestyle goals - the "bach, boat and BMW" attitude - which means they stop developing their businesses once they have enough to be comfortable, rather than achieving the income possible.