Starting a business used to be a big deal. The launch costs were high, survival rates were low, and financial resources were scarce. Those days are fading into history as more and more startups discover low-cost tech, mobile operations, and original funding sources that allow them to launch faster with less runway.
On this side of the world, New Zealand and Australian tech investments have increased eightfold since 2011, making a major impact on how business is done across the region. Startups will give the Australian economy a $170 billion dollar boost by 2020 according the StartupAUS Crossroads report.
Meanwhile, New Zealand’s high-tech exports have doubled over the past six years and have surpassed $6 billion. In New Zealand, the spirit of innovation is alive and well, and its entrepreneurial community is well supported by an active and engaged investment pipeline.
Both countries are becoming significant players in high-growth sectors from customized manufacturing to FinTech. New Zealand ranks fourth and Australia fifth for biotech innovation. Australia’s 5G network will be rolling out in its capital cities as soon as 2019, setting the stage for IoT innovation and cloud-enabled tech.
The Perfect Testing Ground
New Zealand’s relatively small size makes it the ideal incubator for big ideas with the potential for scale, and its burgeoning tech-savy consumer base makes a perfect test market for future-forward ideas. A good example is up in the air right now. Auckland is slated to become the test ground for Uber's electric aircraft, Uber Air, which will lift off with trial flights in 2020.
With change comes conflict, though. As innovation and the disruption that so inevitably attends it sweeps the region, it brings with it a sea change in culture. The digital world is highly mobile, connecting companies to a growing global economy with its own values and standards.
In both Australia and New Zealand, the millennial generation is overtaking the baby boomers in both population size and economic might. This generation also holds the reins of many of the young new start-ups and tech-focused companies. At the same time, Deloittte’s 2018 millennial report in Australia and New Zealand shows a growing unease with business and politics as usual. Preparedness for the digital economy tops the list of concerns, and a strong desire for a positive culture and flexible work conditions crowds out even financial considerations for this activist generation.
Laying out the future of work
The future of work and the rise of the independent worker are radically reshaping the workforce and cultural landscape. Developing this generation of talent and creating an optimal culture for innovation is a number one priority for businesses as they seek growth opportunities in a dynamic and changing world.
Creating the conditions for innovation to flourish requires the new set of leadership skills, the right technology and a strong culture to support a more independent workforce. The rising freelance economy is a great benefit for companies who need to talent to fill critical gaps, and for workers with a more entrepreneurial bent.
Fostering an entrepreneurial environment
Empowering people with the skills needed to create economic opportunity mean creating an environment where learning and problem solving are prioritized. Resourcefulness and creativity are the hallmarks of an entrepreneurial mindset, and they thrive in conditions where both structure and freedom work in tandem. The problem has to be well-defined enough to create a structured process, but people need freedom to find unique solutions.
Creating collaborative spaces
In the digital economy, no one goes it alone. Collaboration is essential for most successful new ventures, and competition and cooperation often go hand in hand. From digital ecosystems that span industries and regions, to informal local networks of independent workers, working together can open up new opportunities, pool valuable resources and add value. Technology can open up new dialogues, bring in diverse views, and allow creativity to flourish.
Provide channels for communication and support
Communication is becoming even more important as remote work becomes the norm. The flexibility that comes with working from home or the road can be isolating if communication channels don’t provide a lifeline. For millennials, communication and transparency are core values and integral to successful collaboration. While technology can open up new lines of communication, culture has to play a role in determining how these tools are used, and in making sure everyone has a voice. Independent workers need to know that they can reach out when they need support and find the answers they need them.
Provide strong, effective leadership and mentorship
Leadership is less authoritarian and more inspirational in the digital age. A deeply compelling vision is the greatest asset a leader can offer and is at the center of any strong culture. Having an impact and making a difference are incredible motivators, and millennials in particular need to understand the ‘why’ of what they do. Strong leadership is perhaps more hands off than before, but mentorship and development are even more highly valued.
Foster a growth mindset
A growth mindset requires both experimentation and critique in equal degrees. Learning quickly and adjusting course requires agility and speed, and a culture of rigorous honesty about what is working and what isn’t. Focusing on learning and outcomes rather than mistakes and the actions of individuals can help ease the way when it comes to acknowledging mistakes quickly and learning from them.
Articulate values and impact
Changing the world might have become something of a cliché in the startup community, but his doesn’t mean people don’t yearn to be part of something bigger and impactful. Don’t waste time building things that don’t solve problems. Creating real change means challenging the status quo and also solving important problems.
The zero infrastructure phone system
Speed and agility are essential to the zero infrastructure modern startup. In the old world of physical stores, location meant everything. In the digital world, timing is the new location. The accelerating speed of business is driven both by volatile supply dynamics and rapidly changing consumer tastes.
Acting quickly and exiting fast when conditions change means agile companies come out ahead. Agility is both a mindset and a technological framework, requiring a culture that isn’t bogged down by top-heavy command chains as well as one that works in real time. Agile businesses scale up quickly to meet a need and equip workers with the information they need to act decisively and smartly.