Government support for small and medium businesses
The Level team were interested to attend an evening hosted by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and it was a great reminder of the “can do” entrepreneurial attitude demonstrated by so many New Zealand businesses.

With a population of just 4.47 million, there are over 500,000 small and medium businesses on record in this country – a staggering number per head of population. In Whangarei alone, we boast almost 9,000 businesses – including 24 boat building and boat repair companies, 54 grocers and supermarkets, 105 cafes and restaurants, 69 takeaway companies, 18 pubs and bars, 57 hairdressers and beauty service providers, 15 vet practices, 48 legal practices, 96 accounting practices and so many more. As a small business ourselves, at Level we understand the challenge in finding the balance between working in, and on, the business. We also understand our clients are critical to our success, so we do our very best to look after them. One way we do this is to share advice and information – like this article.

Here’s our summary notes from the MBIE presentation (including speakers from Northland Inc, Northland Chamber of Commerce, Statistics New Zealand, ACC, WorkSafe, IRD, MFAT, NZTE, Business.Govt – we hope you find them useful.

 

REGIONAL PARTNERSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

The Regional Business Partner Network (RBPN) has representation throughout the country to assist businesses who are looking to grow and innovate. Supported by NZTE and Callaghan Innovation, the RBPN has some key services, including business mentoring and a wide range of support services with everything from business planning, capital raising and exporting to finance, governance, and you guessed it – marketing. In fact, at Level, we’re a registered service provider, which means if you seek the support of NZTE through the RBPN, you may find yourself being referred to us (complete with an NZTE subsidy!) Find out more at: http://www.regionalbusinesspartners.co.nz

GREAT MARKETING. SAY NO MORE.

Even without our biased opinion, great marketing came up time and time again as critical to the successful development of all businesses, with a particular focus on digital.

Key questions to ask yourself:

  • Is your brand strong, unique and professional?
  • Do you have a clear strategy for your marketing activity and spend?
  • Is your website up-to-date, easy to navigate and mobile responsive?
  • Do you know who your target audience is, and do you market to them in a meaningful way (using the right message, in the right marketing channel)?

If you answered a resounding yes to the above questions, you probably don’t need us. If you didn’t we’d love to chat about how we can help, including offering ongoing advice and support through the NZTE training scheme, which not only gives you a great discount, but also helps upskill you along the way so you can become more independent with your marketing.

TAILORED ACC FOR SELF-EMPLOYED AND NON-PAYE SHAREHOLDER/EMPLOYEES

ACC is there to help. As much as we love to hate them, they’re the country’s cheapest insurance company by a mile, there to protect you against accidents. If you’re self-employed, we strongly encourage you to contact them to double-check you’re listed under the right code, as this has a huge impact on the levies you pay and if you don’t identify this upfront, you are given a default code (manufacturing). Second tip: look into Cover Plus Extra. It’s a tailored programme for self-employed and non-PAYE shareholder-employees and allows you to negotiate your level of lost earnings cover – it could make the world of difference for you. Find out more: http://www.acc.co.nz/for-business/self-employed/cover-products-for-self-employed/bus00019

WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER?

There was a bit of talk about the growing importance of your Business Number or NZBN – the number you were assigned when you registered your company, and which is now your universal identifier for all government agencies. There was some very positive talk about this number becoming your main identifier over time with all government agencies, to help streamline all your business activity and make it easier to communicate and share information about your business to avoid duplication and red-tape headaches (imagine a world where ACC and NZTE and MSD and MBIE and IRD all worked from the same system). Watch this space (and try and find out your number!) Find your number at www.nzbn.govt.nz.

IS TAX EVER FUN?

IRD think so, especially when it’s online. IRD is working really hard to take all their tax returns online to make it simpler and easier to complete their painful but essential paperwork. This includes annual tax returns as well as GST returns, and in early 2017 there will be changes to how you can manage your GST through myIR (the IRD’s online service). Over time this will mean that data entered into your accounting software will be used to directly populate and help calculate tax records, which the IRD reckon will save the average business 18-26 hours a year – maybe tax can be fun! Check out the latest here: www.makingtaxsimpler.ird.govt.nz

ONE STOP BUSINESS ADVICE SHOP

For a one-stop shop to help with most of your business-related questions and issues, MBIE has developed Business.govt.nz, where there is a huge range of information available. Learn more about starting and stopping businesses, staff and HR, tax and finance and business laws and regulations. The volume of content is huge – as an example here are just a few topics from the HR section: becoming an employer, making job offers and trial periods, employment processes and contracts, managing staff payments and flexible working arrangements, performance appraisals, training and development, performance development and resignations, plus much more.

And in business planning: starting a business, entering an existing business, researching your target market, business planning, business structures, intellectual property, selling a business and much, much more. You might want to make a cup of tea first: www.business.govt.nz  

EVEN MORE FREE RESOURCES

One message that came across really strongly from MBIE is that the Government has poured lots of taxpayers’ money (yours and ours) into developing resources to help New Zealand businesses, so we’d all be mugs if we didn’t at least check them out. Aside from those listed above, here’s a few links to get you started:

Need a business mentor? www.businessmentors.org.nz

Want to know more about your market? Statistics New Zealand has a wealth of knowledge available: www.stats.govt.nz/businesstoolbox

Want to get off the benefit to start a business? www.workandincome.govt.nz/move-into-work/start-your-own-business

Want access to high quality New Zealand imagery for exporting? www.nzstory.govt.nz

Want support for Maori business? www.tpk.govt.nz/en/whakamahia/maori-business-facilitation-service

Are you in a primary industry wanting help to export or improve productivity? www.mpi.govt.nz/funding-and-programmes