Under (less) Pressure: 2010 Business Barometer

I continue to be impressed with the annual ANZ privately owned Business Barometer survey. If you’re a NZ business owner I’d strongly encourage you to take 15 minutes out to read their key insights summary.

Twelve months ago I shared my thoughts on the 2009 Barometer – has anything changed? Well…

2009: 60% of companies believed reducing costs would contribute to performance
2010: this has fallen to 39% with a strong return to focusing on growth by sales (72%)

As noted last year, you can only cut so much cost – it’s revenue generation based on solid client relationships that ensures true business viability.

The return to a sales focus is consistent with an increase in demand for advisers and directors with sales and marketing expertise (2010:20% – 2009:13%). I’m also seeing this in the market and predict the trend will continue over coming years.

2009: 73% of owners with a long term strategic plan had documented it
2010: this has increased to 90%

Great news – as they say: “the difference between a goal and a dream is the written word”

2009: desired attributes of a trusted advisor were strategy, independence/different thinking and trustworthiness
2010: strategy and independence still dominate with industry expertise coming in third (2010:31% – 2009:23%)

If independent thinking is so important how come 45% of those with boards have no independent directors? And only 17% have two independent directors?

2009: 25% of businesses had no succession plan
2010: now only 15% have no succession plan

There’s also been a big increase in business owners considering a staggered exit (44% to 65%). As you know, exit needn’t equate to ‘sale’ and many are considering precession before succession.

Here are my pick of other insights from the report:

On advisors….

“Your advisor should be a mentor and a tormentor – they can’t be part of the mutual admiration society.”

On cash…

“…while it might feel like the worst is behind us there is some evidence of business failures increasing on the way out of a recession. The reason is liquidity. Businesses need cash to fund growth.”

On international growth…

“Understanding the market is key – research the market, recognise that there are markets within markets and understand your niche thoroughly.”

On consumer attitudes…

“A trend towards what is often referred to as ‘authenticity’ was emerging; that is, a shift in spending towards the local, natural and personal.”

Happy reading.

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