New Research by the Enterprise Research Centre for BIS finds that a business owner’s ‘growth disposition’ can drive business performance and actual business growth.

Drawing on social theory, this innovative study looked at whether small business owners exhibit different dispositions regarding growth and, if so, whether and how these affect their mind-sets, business behaviours (i.e. management practices) and subsequently the performance of their businesses.  One hundred in-depth personal interviews were undertaken with small business owners in early 2015. The findings show that there is a spectrum of dispositions towards growth among small business owners and these are influenced by demographics (gender, socio-economic status, etc.), family background, education, cultural norms and the scale and nature of international links.  Dispositions shape the ‘mind-sets’ of business owners (i.e. how they think about growth) and these are associated with different levels of ambition and different business behaviours. Within the spectrum, there are 3 broad identifiable categories of business owners: the growth-inclinedgrowth-ambivalent  and  growth-resistant. Businesses run by growth-inclined owners tend to perform better than those run by growth-ambivalent, and these in turn perform better than businesses run by growth-resistant owners.  Dispositions influence whether, and how, business owners use the capital (resources) available to them and in turn how this affects their business behaviour. For example, business owners disposed to growth are more likely to think and act strategically and more likely than others to engage in growth related behaviours such as innovation. Growth dispositions, therefore, affect actual business performance.