What do small businesses need?
In New Zealand we have a Small Business Advisory Group (SBAG) that reports periodically to government on what are the issues for small businesses.
It’s interesting how localized some of these issues are across countries.
In New Zealand the main themes of concern to small businesses are
- remaining competitive with Australia, our closest economic neighbour
- minimizing government bureaucracy, including local Government
- balanced employee policies
- work/life balance
- getting our small businesses to export
We were interested, of course, to see the comments on locating commercial business software to assist run their business. It ties in with our experience that it is hard for small business to know where to find out business solutions. We think the Government can be much more proactive in this regard.The recommendations of the 2008 Small Business Advisory Group Report are:
- That the government establish a policy goal of making the environment for business in New Zealand competitive with Australia’s.
- That the government develop, and publish in a high profile way, a set of benchmarks comparing
the key components of our business environment to those in competitor countries (and especially in Australia).
- That local government consents processes be simplified by removing the need for minor building works to get a prior resource management or building consent.
- That information on good practice in employment relationships tailored to small business owners and managers, preferably endorsed by employer organisations, be made more readily available and be better promoted. This should include easier access to educational material and to support mechanisms (for example, free access to knowledgeable people who can provide practical and balanced advice to employers or employees on handling employment disputes).
- That, in relation to personal grievances, decision-makers be required to place greater emphasis on the substance of a dispute over the process developed by the Employment Court, and on the contributing behaviour of the employee as provided for in s124 of the Employment Relations Act.
- That employers be compensated (either tax credit or grant) for the costs of every employee they have in formal training.
- That the expense limits for tax deductions for childcare and housekeeping be increased to 50 per cent of the actual costs as a means to encourage people into the workforce and to give SME owners
a greater opportunity to balance work and family pressures.
- That fringe benefit tax (FBT) be abolished
- That all business advisors and staff in government-funded and government-assisted economic agencies receive on-going training in sensitivity to cultural difference and in culturally appropriate behaviours, and that they use this training and closer relationships with the relevant communities to measurably improve Maori, Asian and Pacific business peoples’ access to, and benefit from, business support programmes.
- That the government develop a web-based business centre that provides: access to commercial business systems software for the better management and running of a small business a seamless interface with the government agencies that require information from businesses, making communications and information collection easier between government and small business.
- That persons offering services as business brokers be required to have specific training and qualification/licensing.
- That the financial and non-financial support offered to SMEs by other economic development agencies in a representative selection of overseas market places be compared with the support offered by NZTE and consideration be given to where the NZTE services can be improved in
order to maintain New Zealand’s competitiveness.
- That easy-to-use online checklists/guides/case studies be developed that alert New Zealand businesses to the risks of internationalisation and ways to mitigate those risks.
- That the government consider broadening the range of products and services offered by the New Zealand Export Credit Office in order to achieve more sustainable international market participation by SMEs.
- That publications be produced that give practical and implementable advice and support for SMEs to improve their environmental performance and to derive business benefit from the recognised or certified environmental sustainability of their products and processes.
- That all foodstuffs sold in New Zealand be required to be labelled with the country of origin of the “defining component” or the most significant component of the foodstuff.
Do you agree with these? What are your main issues with running a small business?