Despite small and medium sized businesses making up the majority of New Zealand’s business community, half of them still do not have a website.
According to the survey of SME Digital Readiness by Yellow, 50 per cent of Kiwi small businesses did not have a website and nearly 20 per cent were not utilising any online tools for marketing and sales.
Despite social media sites such as facebook and twitter long acknowledged to have a significant impact on the success and presence of a business both in the real and digital world, small businesses were not embracing this business strategy. This is seen as a particular concern as consumer behaviour skews heavily towards online engagement with businesses and their products, and not capitalising on this digital space means many small businesses are not reaching their consumers.
More than half of Kiwis use the web to search for businesses, products and services, with 17 per cent of those using the internet exclusively.
Posted on 8 May '13, under Firm journal.
New Zealand small businesses are less confident about their prospects than they were a year ago, with 28% of Kiwi firms expecting the economy to slow down in 2013. However, despite this 68% are hopeful that there will be some growth in their own businesses.
To help get through the year, there are a few basic steps businesses can take to survive the ups and downs of this volatile economy.
- Reduce reliance on external debt
If a business is not expected to grow in 2013, reducing the reliance on debt may be appropriate. Businesses should focus on increasing their productivity using existing assets and staff and improving cash flow. Improving cash flow will also fund necessary purchases or investments without the need to resort to external financing.
- Evaluate productivity by collecting data on business performance and comparing that to similar businesses, industry benchmarks and the strategic goals of the business.
- Identify key drivers of the business and set goals for the drivers.
- Review cost structure for savings
If a business cannot bring costs under control or pass these on to customers, this will have serious implications on cash flow and future viability of the business.
- Review costs that are variables in the business and can be controlled. Be strategic and aggressive about these cost cuts. They can always be reversed later.
- Re-negotiate with suppliers about receiving discounts or change stock delivery.
- Review business plan for the current economic climate
It is good practice for business owners to review their business strategy as the market forces change. It is better being prepared for a sudden change in circumstances than to be caught off guard and suffer the financial consequences.
Posted on 17 January '13, under Firm journal.
New Zealand commodity prices rose for a second month in September, in the strongest monthly gain in a year-and-a-half, led by skim milk powder and aluminium.
The largest increase was shared by skim milk powder and aluminium, both up 11 per cent, followed by butter and whole milk powder up 8 per cent, wool and apple prices gaining 6 per cent, cheese climbing 5 per cent, venison up 2 per cent and logs and beef rising 0.5 per cent.
The price of pelts bucked the trend falling 10 per cent, with casein and kiwifruit prices down 2 per cent. Lamb prices eased 1 per cent.
In New Zealand dollar terms, the commodity price index rose for the first month in nine, up 3 per cent.
The strong kiwi dollar has damped the potential returns for local exporters, recently trading near its recent six month high of 82.81 US cents.
Posted on 2 October '12, under Firm journal.
Invest in a fast Internet connection if you’re working from home full-time. Once you get used to fast service and being constantly connected to the Internet, it makes email communication and finding information much easier.
When you work from home, area you’ll quickly deal with is which expenses are deductible as business expenses and which are not.
Most normal business expenses that you would incur whether or not you were working from home: postage, office supplies, advertising, wages are all treated the same way as any other business. You can deduct those expenses as part of your regular deductions for the cost of doing business.
However, you have an additional tax savings option on your home office if you qualify, the home office deduction, enabling you to deduct a portion of the cost of your house or apartment used exclusively for business. Be careful! There are many things to consider before taking a home office deduction, including the fact that it is closely examined by the tax office.
Posted on 12 September '12, under Firm journal.
For those who have a home office, the flexibility and extra time spent with the family are the most rewarding aspect. It is also much more cost effective than renting or owning a business premises. There are a few potential issues that come with operating out of your house; here are key points to a few main ones.
Now days much communication with customers is done electronically, but what about those times where a face to face meeting is necessary? If you cannot arrange a meeting at the customer’s place of business, you must arrange your space to look professional and efficient.
Ideally, your office needs to be separately from your family surroundings. If possible, have a separate entrance or at least a path to your office that doesn’t go through the kids’ playroom or the kitchen. If this is unavoidable always make sure your home is as clean and tidy as possible, a dirty house is a real turn off for potential clients.
If you need to, meet customers somewhere else, look for “neutral” locations, such as meeting them in a cafe. If you have an ongoing need, see if you can “sublet” or “rent” a meeting space or conference room on an hourly basis. “Executive suite” services — short-term office rentals — often offer hourly rentals as well secretarial services.
A separate business line or mobile is essential if you’re doing business from your home on an ongoing basis. Once your toddler answers a call from your most important client, you’ll see the necessity of a separate line for incoming business calls. If you want to be listed in the Yellow Pages or “business” section of the phone book, many local phone companies require you to have a “business” line.
Posted on 12 September '12, under Firm journal.
1. Establish a company blog
Having a corporate blog is a definite plus for companies of all sizes. A blog is an effective tool for small companies because it gives them a global stage from which to tell their brand story, add value and connect with customers and partners; large companies can benefit from a blog for the same reasons but more importantly because it can help an organisation to appear more ‘human’ with posts written by employees and, preferably, senior executives including the CEO.
2. Be open
People appreciate openness and a sense of transparency from company leaders. Earlier this year PR firm Edelman * released its annual Trust Barometer, a global survey that gauges the public’s trust in government, business and the media. One damning statistic from the survey was that only 35 per cent of New Zealanders and Australians found CEOs credible as a company spokesperson. Being open and transparent at all times in your communications is one way to win back the trust of people – if you personally have made a mistake or the company has mis-stepped along the way, say so. Be open to your foibles as much as your strengths when the situation requires it and people will respect you (and your brand) all the more for it.
3. Tell stories
Stories. We humans love ‘em. We’re hardwired to tell (and listen to) stories, it’s in our DNA. If companies in Australia and NZ want to improve their levels of communication and engagement with stakeholders, they could do worse than to develop and tell authentic stories that move people to action rather than bore them to tears.
4. Use your own voice
Too many senior company executives rely on the crutch of jargon’. Their words – whether spoken or written – are impenetrable to the point that people – customers, employees, journalists – switch off.
Use your own voice, speak to people as you would at a barbecue rather than how you would to your executive board. Don’t try and emulate other CEOs who baffle people with impenetrable language designed not to communicate but to impress. You won’t get your message across and you will lose standing as a leader.
Posted on 10 September '12, under Firm journal.
A new report has predicted that New Zealand fund managers will encourage overseas investment as the growth in KiwiSaver funds outpaces the capacity of the local sharemarket to absorb them.
Many New Zealanders are vulnerable to the economy through their jobs and houses. If the economy fails, many peoples’ earnings and property will plummet.
In times of economic hardship the local sharemarket is no haven for local investors. Over time it is dependent on the performance of the domestic economy, particularly domestic consumption
In the future it is possible that many emerging country financial exchanges will become better regulated and more transparent, reducing the risks involved in investing in these markets and allowing greater opportunities for investors from developed countries.
Investing overseas won’t be for everyone. Some investors will prefer investing in local companies and securities they know and trust. There will be local success stories and some investors will be confident they can pick the winners.
Fluctuations in the New Zealand dollar can lead to volatile domestic currency returns on overseas investments, which can be off-putting. It can also be expensive to directly invest in overseas securities because of brokerage and custody fees. However, these issues can be mitigated by investing through diversified investment funds incorporating New Zealand dollar hedging.
Posted on 27 August '12, under Firm journal.
Close to it’s five year anniversary, KiwiSaver has announced that there will be some changes made to the product.
The announcement was made after several sections of KiwiSaver were merged together, in order to streamline some processes and simplify certain aspects of the scheme. Members will be kept fully informed about how the changes will effect them throughout the next few months.
The changes are said to provide Kiwibank customers with benefits such as improved transparency, customer service, in-house investment and detailed reporting while retaining access via Kiwibank Internet Banking and a simple, competitive fee structure.
Posted on 13 August '12, under Firm journal.
In honour of The Dark Knight Rises, here is part 2 of our ‘Lessons from Batman’ article….. After all, Bruce Wayne is the wealthiest guy in (fictional) Gotham!
Last Week we looked at the importance of research and development. This week we focus on branding and networking:
Branding – be recognisable
A cohesive brand is crucial to a successful enterprise, and that’s something Wayne understands better than most. All of Batman’s gadgets contain the symbol of a bat – even the famous police signal lights up the sky with his brand.
Creating an interesting logo and tagline, and putting it on everything you produce will re-enforce your brand in consumers memory.
Research shows younger shoppers aren’t able to identify advertising as clearly as they could in the past because of mixed branding messages across different media channels. A cohesive brand isn’t just to look cool – it’s to make sure you can maintain a consistent voice as a company.
A great support network
Bruce Wayne may work alone, but he has a full support network of allies giving him advice when he needs it, including butler and mentor, Alfred.
No business is an island, creating a strong network of suppliers and professional service firms will help you manage all tasks, especially the really difficult ones. Even Batman can’t fight crime alone, and neither can an entrepreneur do everything by themselves. A good support network is crucial to good business.
Posted on 24 July '12, under Firm journal.
Last week “The Dark Knight Rises”, the third and final instalment of the most recent Batman franchise opened around the world. Taking in an estimated $US195 million in it’s opening weekend, the caped crusader proved extremely profitable, and small businesses could stand to learn a thing or two from fictional multi-millionaire Bruce Wayne.
Over the next 2 weeks, in honour of the Bat breaking more box-office records, we will look at three lessons you could stand to learn from the iconic superhero:
Gadgets – the importance of research and development
Bruce Wayne spends a large amount of his time investing in gadgets and research and development. Wayne’s lair is filled with sophisticated computer systems and databases, all of which require state-of-the-art technology. But he’s also a keen proponent of corporate research and development.
All business owners should spend a considerable amount of time researching and developing more effective ways of doing business. This can mean looking into an upgrade of machinery, developing new methods or even downloading business related Apps such (such as project management apps) to help organise daily business functions.
Posted on 23 July '12, under Firm journal.