Business tool seeks out entrepreneurs

IN NEW ZEALAND: Entrepreneurial expert Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic.
IN NEW ZEALAND: Entrepreneurial expert Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic.

Booming immigration is good news for New Zealand's business world according to visiting entrepreneurial expert Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic.

"There is a strong positive correlation between immigration and GDP, productivity, economic output and innovation.

"The simple reason for that is ambitious, curious, creative, hungry, hardworking people go to where there are opportunities. It is a self-fulfilling thing," he said.

While we tend to think we live in a globalised world, only 3 per cent of adults work outside the country they were born, Chamorro-Premuzic said.

"New Zealand has had over 20 per cent immigrants for some time now. It is always good, always beneficial. The economic argument is very, very compelling."

Chamorro-Premuzic is the founder of online profiling company Meta, which measures entrepreneurial talents and abilities.

The business launched a couple of years ago and has giant corporations such as The Walt Disney Company and London's Royal Opera House as clients.

The Meta profiling tool is touted as the only one designed to assess or promote individual or team level innovation.

"We are benefiting from the universal interest that people seem to have today on creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship."

Meta allows organisations to assess the entrepreneurial abilities of current and prospective employees.

While a lot of companies are happy to try the assessment stage, about half follow through to "a serious intervention to create change," Chamorro-Premuzic said.

Wellington company Winsborough has secured the licence to run the profiling tool in New Zealand.

Managing director David Winsborough said many Kiwi business people were inward looking, happy to do "just OK" domestically, but not prepared to think about how to grow their enterprise.

"I am on a mission to try and transform that."

Chamorro-Premuzic said the more isolated a country, the more inward looking its people were.

"One of the reasons that people are good at starting businesses here but not very good at scaling them up is the size and distance of the economy."

While there are entrepreneurial traits, Chamorro-Premuzic said ‘entrepreneur' was a category rather than a job title.

"Most people in the category are there because they don't want to work for other people.

"So in a majority of cases, they are necessity entrepreneurs.

"Either there are no jobs or they've had really [bad] bosses and managers and they don't work for them anymore.

"The term we use is more-or-less-entrepreneurial."

Chamorro-Premuzic said Meta was focused on helping organisations become more innovative by changing the mindset of business managers who "maybe haven't been trained properly to recognise and reward innovation".

And those who are most likely to be innovators are younger people, he said.

"The prime age for being against the system and wanting to change or defy the old school is when people are young.

"If you have to comply, conform, and follow the rules . . . it's not an environment that promotes innovation. It's quite the opposite."

There is also an established school of thought that you have to be a serial risk-taker to be a successful entrepreneur.

But Chamorro-Premuzic said often the riskiest part is starting the venture.

"To scale it and do well, you actually have to be quite cautious.

"If you are a reckless risk-taker you will go bust."

He said only 10 per cent of those who start a venture will still be running it in 10 years, and only three per cent who launch a start-up company will grow it to more than five or six staff.

Chamorro-Premuzic is Professor of Business Psychology at University College London, and a visiting professor at New York University.



Creative, come up with ideas all the time

Opportunistic, ability to network, identify gaps in the market or organisation

Proactive, ambitious, follow through

Have a goal, mission, purpose

Chamorro-Premuzic said it is not often that somebody has all these traits, so working in collaboration is often what happens.

Fairfax Media