Generating Profits out of Passion: A Study of New Zealand Wineries
Lifestyle entrepreneurship is associated with entrepreneurs who operate businesses primarily for reasons associated with non-economic motives such as pursuit of passion, work-life balance, quality of life, and/or achieving other personal goals and objectives. Although non-economic motives are usually assumed to take precedence in such businesses, economic objectives are also important to lifestyle entrepreneurs, as they provide the means to sustain the business and support the lifestyle sought by the entrepreneur. This study aims to examine two key aspects of lifestyle entrepreneurship. Firstly, it investigates the challenges encountered by lifestyle entrepreneurs in their pursuit of economic and non-economic motivations simultaneously. And secondly, it looks at the strategies employed by lifestyle entrepreneurs to cope with those challenges. Data for this study were collected qualitatively, through in-depth, semi-structured interviews. A set of open ended questions were used to explore the perceptions and experiences of entrepreneurs. All interviews were conducted face-to-face and were averaged 60 minutes in duration. The sample comprised of 14 lifestyle entrepreneurs from the wine industry of New Zealand, a sector which has been associated with lifestyle entrepreneurship in previous literature. The participants were purposefully selected from three wine regions, namely Nelson, Martinborough and Waiheke Island, to add to the generalizability of the findings depending on whether regional differences were apparent. This study indicates that the main challenges encountered by the selected sample were issues pertaining to simultaneously growing the business, as well as their ability to achieve or maintain desired work-life balance. The strategies adopted by the respondents to cope with these challenges included maintaining their business small-scale, diversification of the business operations, addressing seasonality in business operations, personal engagement with the customers, delegating responsibility and re-prioritizing economic over non-economic objectives. More specifically, the respondents’ activities covered a range of business operations including grape growing, winemaking, domestic wine sales, international wine exports, cellar-door sales, providing accommodation on the vineyard (holiday house), and restaurant/cafe facilities. All wineries had achieved some form of growth over time, but most of them still remained small-scale. This was mainly due to reasons such as the desire to retain control and hands-on involvement. For a few wineries, the lifestyle orientation had changed over the course of time. Even though maintaining lifestyle objectives were still important to them, economic motivations now took precedence in their business. This was mainly due to factors such as having stimulated significant growth, changing market environment, increase in competition, or the need to ensure the viability of the business.