July 11th, 2016

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Originally posted on stuff.co.nz written by Tao Lin

Last year, Wellington business owner Samantha Gadd made the toughest decision in her business career so far.

Lying in bed with the flu, the founder of HR Shop realised her firm’s strategy, brand and proposition to the market had changed over the past four years and the “nice cosy club” she had created no longer cut it.

The company, which was named in last year’s Deloitte’s list of the country’s fastest growing companies, was still growing but it lacked the right roles and expertise at the right levels for a high performing business.

So, she led a restructure that ultimately meant some staff had to go.

“It was really hard on the team because we’re quite a small business.”

“I had a significant amount of feedback. Everyone had strong opinions and of course, I took it all incredibly personally. I took on-board the feedback, amended the proposal and at the end of the day made some changes. It wasn’t easy.”

Gadd also rebranded her company, from HR Shop to Humankind, a decision that was met with some negativity.

Ultimately, she said it was about trusting her gut and doing what was best to take the company forward.

Who Ate All The Pies founder Steven Turner said one of his biggest challenges has been managing cashflow.

A problem with manufacturing was that the supply often had to be there before approaching stockists, creating the big risk of: what if nobody wants to sell the product?

Turner said because of this, he started his business in the weak position of having to scale without an order book.

But, things were looking up now. His accounts were growing every month and he can accurately forecast who will buy what from him each week.

Another challenge Turner came up against was funding and he said he was “staggered” at how hard it was for small businesses to get funding from investment companies.

Turner is fully automating his production line and he has a goal of increasing production by 400 per cent.

With that in mind, he said the only thing to do in the face of impossible challenges was to just keep going.

“You’ve got a plan, you know what you want to do, just keep pushing towards that plan.”

Deloitte private partner Mike Horne said a lack of the right resources, skills and funding were common challenges faced by fast-growing businesses.

Something that could help, and something Kiwis were not always great at, was collaborating with others, Horne said.

Business owners often did not want to share information with others out of fear of losing their competitive advantage.

“Actually, sharing information and understanding how others are doing things can be really important,” Horne said.


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