It is hoped that a new public-private partnership aimed at giving more Kiwi business owners the opportunity to develop their companies will be the start of things to come.
New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) and the Bank of New Zealand have joined forces to offer $1.5 million in funding for the long-standing Owner Manager Programme, run by University of Auckland business incubator The Icehouse.
The course is offered to owners of companies with a turnover of at least $2 million.
BNZ has committed $750,000, which will reduce the cost of the course from $20,000 to $15,000. Eligible businesses working with an NZTE regional business partner can also access the agency's new Management Capability Vouchers to reduce the cost by a further $5000.
The programme runs three days a week for five months. Participants say they have seen an average 38 per cent increase in their earnings since doing the course.
BNZ director Anthony Healy said the bank hoped to support another 140 business owners on to the programme over the next two years.
The course played a key role in enabling a high-performing business community.
NZTE's general manager of products and services, Hans Frauenlob, said the business community was often talking about what was needed to build a stronger economy and the private sector was "putting its money where its mouth is".
He hoped the deal would be the start of a trend. "It falls to interested parties to figure out a sensible place to focus," Frauenlob said.
The Icehouse programme was a good example of managing skill but was not the only one. "It is comprehensive and involves group-based learning.
"We like situations where businesses can learn from each other as well as experts."
The course allowed participants to understand the critical underpinnings of a successful business.
Icehouse CEO Andy Hamilton said his organisation was looking to make a five-fold increase in its impact over the next 10 years.
Four fold growth
Richard Krebs, owner of East Tamaki hydraulics company Hyspecs, completed the Owner Manager Programme in 2001 and has watched his business grow four-fold.
He was initially worried about the cost and the fact that "smart guys" might show him up.
"I was apprehensive that teachers at university would know anything about my business," he said.
Krebs' fears were soon put to rest. He discovered those on the course were experiencing similar issues.
"I learned a lot about my business and myself. Most of my time was spent putting out fires and I wasn't spending enough time thinking about how my business ticked."
The course encouraged him to delegate responsibility and eliminate needless tasks.
"I learned how to tear the company apart and look at each department. and thought about how we could do it better."
It has resulted in salespeople having more time for selling and for their customers.
"Staff used to hate me coming in on a Monday morning pumped up with ideas, but now the company runs itself."