They may sound like two pieces of jargon some consultant is bandying about, but we can assure you many New Zealand exporters have been burnt trying to grow their businesses without understanding or planning for the extra capability and capacity required. They winged it, and it cost them.

Quite simply, the capability of a business is what capital is required, what technology and what knowledge and people skills are in the company now, and what skills you need to scale up your production and tackle the complexities of exporting in each jurisdiction you enter.

And capacity is about whether your systems, supply chain and your production can keep up. You’ve got the orders coming in, now delivering a quality product, on time and budget, every single time is critical.

Exporting places many additional pressures on you, your business, finances, your people, and your processes. Honesty is key when assessing your capability. If you identify limitations early, you will know precisely where to strengthen your business to put you in the best position to succeed.

“Growth can be a scary place because it can be very capital hungry – so that is probably a good place to start.”
Mike Devonshire NZTE Beachhead Advisor

Understanding your capability and capacity

This Export Essentials guide takes you through key considerations to ensure you plan for the right people skills and production capacity to meet increased demand and growth.

You’ll find information on:

  • What sort of things you need to think about when you consider the capability and capacity of your organisation
  • Key signs that your business is export-ready
  • Tips on growing your capability
  • What to consider to ensure you have the capacity to succeed – will you need to finance new machinery to meet increasing demand? Will this impact pricing?
  • Important questions service based exporters should ask themselves.

Download our free guide on this page, ask yourself some tough questions and start strengthening your business.

Watch this three-minute video of Steve Boyd, Managing Director, Deadly Ponies, share some lessons and challenges they faced when they ventured into Australia, their first foray offshore, and the resulting changes they made.

For more help on strengthening your organisation’s capability and capacity, and how to build this into your winning export strategy then join us at the next Export Essentials workshop in your region.

Mike Devonshire: When it comes down to capability I like to think of financial ability, financial resources, our people resources, so human resources, and most importantly knowledge. And for an exporter, or a budding exporter, you know honest is the key; I think there’s no doubt about that. And when you’re honest with yourself you open yourselves up to, not criticism, but to positive opportunities. And the three consistent themes that I see is governance, a decent plan, and thirdly, people.

Steve Boyd: So, the challenges we face with scaling up production is almost a daily challenge; I don’t think that ever goes away. As we’ve kind of expanded, first, obviously into Australia, then into Japan, then further afield, we’ve been facing more and more challenges about how we hit the kind of demand and volume that’s required. Picking up three stores in Australia, which was our initial uptake, had a massive impact on the volume that we were having to produce.

Mike Devonshire: Well, the three top challenges of scaling an export business will be capability, so capability of the people involved, capability of the business to cope with expanding volumes, so that could be capital, working capital, and also capability of the people in market.

Steve Boyd: The most practical solution initially was bringing on more staff. We had to resource the team adequately to increase production. The key drivers in scaling up our production business have been taking some componentry offshore, and we just became more sophisticated about how we were producing our product rather than saying, “Every single part of it has to be done in New Zealand.” Probably the key pieces of advice, or the key people that we’ve talked to over the years, has really been about bringing on skillsets that Liam and I don’t have, which is multiple, but as you learn you pick up more skills and you’re like “Oh, I feel like I know how to do this now.” But in actual fact, when you talk to someone that has done it for 30 years, you’re like “Oh, that’s right, I don’t know anything.”

Mike Devonshire: Growth can be a scary place because it can be very capital-hungry, so that’s probably the key area to focus on at the start.

Steve Boyd: Asking for advice was the key component to being successful internationally or being an exporter anyway.

Exporter guide

  • Download our guide to understanding your capability and capacity
    5.06 MB

Identify gaps in your strategy using the Export Plan template
  • I’m looking for help to start a new business in New Zealand

    If you’re new to business, or looking to start a new business, Business.govt.nz provides a great base of information and advice, including key compliance and regulatory information for running a business in New Zealand. 

    Check out their Getting Started section which includes guides to starting a business, how to research your market and competitors, choosing the right structure, creating a business plan, funding your business and much more. You can also contact the Business.govt.nz team via their freephone number - 0800 424 946.

    Business Mentors New Zealand provides a start-up mentoring service for people with a new business idea or looking to start a new business. This gives you six months of mentoring from an experienced businessperson, for a one-off registration fee. You can find out more about the Start-Up Business Mentoring Programme on their website.

    NZTE and Callaghan Innovation also work with economic development agencies around the country, which make up the Regional Business Partner (RBP) network. These agencies provide local support for businesses looking to grow, including the following: 

    • assessing your business and working with you to identify key needs 
    • helping you to write an action plan to help your business develop, grow and innovate 
    • identifying relevant training courses, advisors, information, and other services to help meet your specific needs. 
    • connect you with the local business community, industry networks and clusters
    • provide access to Capability Development vouchers
    • help you navigate the support you can get from Government agencies

    The RBP network is made up of these local Economic Development Agencies and Chambers of Commerce:

  • Who can I talk to in my region about business training, advice and connections?

    The Regional Business Partner (RBP) network has specialist business advisors available to provide you with advice, information and connections to support your business. They can help you:

    • identify the next steps for your business
    • connect you with the local business community, industry networks and clusters
    • match you with a mentor from Business Mentors NZ
    • provide access to Capability Development vouchers
    • provide access to research and development (R&D) funding
    • help you navigate the support you can get from Government agencies.

    The RBP network is made up of these local Economic Development Agencies and Chamber of Commerce: 

  • I have a great innovation that I want to make a reality. Who can help me?
    Callaghan Innovation have advisors, scientists and engineers that can help you work through the steps required to make your idea a commercial reality.

Export Essentials workshops

Develop your export plan in our practical two-day workshop