Despite the uncertain global economic environment and at a time of high levels of unemployment, many of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs continue to grow their business and are expanding their workforce.
According to new research from Ernst & Young, Global Jobs Creation, more than half of the 600 plus major entrepreneurs across the world surveyed say they expect to increase their work force in 2013 – with the numbers showing remarkable similarity around the world.
Nearly three quarters of the entrepreneurs, who are all former Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year winners and had a collective 18% revenue growth rate in the past two years as well as employing over 304,000 people in 51 countries, reported they had raised headcount in 2012.
Innovation is key
Innovation plays an essential role in helping entrepreneurs create new jobs and beat the competition. Nearly 90% of respondents across a wide numbers of industries agreed that innovation was the one genuine differentiator and advantage they have over the competition.
In addition, more than half of those surveyed (54%) said they expect growth to continue in 2013 and nearly half(44%) say they have a structured process in place to drive innovation, while 41% said innovation is an unstructured spontaneous process.
“Clearly entrepreneurs are not taking a wait-and-see attitude to growing their businesses, but moving right ahead,” says Maria Pinelli, Global Vice Chair, Strategic Growth Markets for Ernst & Young. “It’s fascinating to see this type of success across the board at a time when just about every leading global economic indicator reports modest or no growth.”
New market drivers
Forty-three percent of the respondents say that a passion for their product or service was the driving force behind their entry into a given market.
Improving an existing product or service came second at (36%), while tapping into niche markets was third at 33%.
Not surprisingly, since The Next Big Thing is around every corner in the IT and technology sectors, this group registered highest when it came to zeal for its products.
“Entrepreneurs in the manufacturing sector said they were more focused on improving an existing product or service, while pharmaceutical and biotech executives said they’re searching for new, niche markets,” says Pinelli.
Filling the unemployment gap
Despite all the bullish news, entrepreneurs said they are in desperate need of attracting individuals with the right skills and talent to fill their needs.
Specific skills in greatest demand are: industry knowledge (57%), sales and marketing (25%), and management/leadership (22%).
Interestingly, there is less interest in candidates with the narrow functional backgrounds such as engineering, finance, and human resources. This trend was most obvious in Ireland where 68% of the respondents confirmed that they hired specific industry skills, followed by Australia, (61%), Canada (61%), the US (56%) and the UK (43%).
Ironically, Pinelli says that given youth unemployment problems in the Middle East, North Africa and parts of Southern Europe there is a huge gap between what rapidly-expanding emerging growth companies need and the skills of the current worker pool.
“The business world is crying out for specific talent. Technical expertise is essential, but what really matters is the capacity of the candidate to transform ideas into actions that will keep their industry well ahead of the pace of market change,” said Pinelli, who is also Board Chairman of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship.