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Dunedin businesses are being urged to ''think differently'' when it comes to how they do business.
Lisa McCarthy, who has founded Optimal Agility International Ltd, said businesses were struggling to cope with the effects of dramatic and disruptive changes in technology, consumer spending, and a perceived lack of central government support for regional growth.
That had resulted in a string of job losses, placing pressure on the city's residents and the local economy.
While it was human nature, in the face of a contracting environment, to undergo fiscal tightening and to ''run lean'', that was often counterproductive, Ms McCarthy said.
''In fact, it has been demonstrated to stifle the innovation and nimbleness required for an organisation to differentiate themselves and stand out in a crowded market, stay relevant, and thrive,'' she said.
Dunedin was ''superbly positioned'' to take advantage of the creative economy, but taking full economic advantage of the city's strengths and creating jobs and opportunity in the city required thinking differently about how business was done.
Business leaders needed to focus at least as much on how to be adaptive and agile as on how to be efficient and lean, she said.
Ms McCarthy, whose business combined both her corporate and start-up background, has organised a half-day programme in Dunedin on July 29.
It was designed for ''progressive and forward-thinking'' business people to learn how to adapt to and benefit from the new business environment, she said.
Speakers include Otago-Southland Cancer Society chief executive Mike Kernaghan, Free Spirit Training and Development co-director Kim Charteris-Wright, executive coach and psychotherapist Anne Bond, Anderson Lloyd partner Lesley Brook, and Ms McCarthy..
Entries are being sought from Otago for the ANZ Flying Start business plan competition.
The competition, which is run by Business.govt.nz, part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, is now in its fourth year.
Applicants have to submit a business plan showing an original idea geared for growth and sustainable revenue.
Stage one is open now at www.business.govt.nz/business-plan-competition, with entries closing on August 12.