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Red-tape slasher gets sharper edge

Red-tape slasher gets sharper edge

21 October

The Government has sharpened the scissors it uses to cut business red tape. It’s revamped and relaunched biz.org (www.biz.org.nz), a web site set up last year to help businesses cut compliance costs. The site’s also been expanded so it provides more free information and resources to help businesses grow.

Biz.org now focuses more sharply on the two big questions businesses have about compliance – what do I have to do and how do I do it, says New Zealand Trade and Enterprise Project Manager Dr Terry Marks.

“The site now features a step-by-step summary of key compliance obligations, and provides online tools, links and resources to help business deal with those obligations efficiently,” Dr Marks says.

It also features extensive new content aimed at helping businesses improve their skills and capacity. New topics covered include training, mentoring, industry organisations, how to grow a business and managing business finances. The information provided is practical, covering things like how to do a marketing plan or make sure your invoices are paid.

The online site complements other services provided by Biz (Business Information Zone), which include a call centre and walk-in centres where prospective and existing business owners can get personalised advice. Those wanting specific questions answered can contact a Biz advisor by calling an 0800 number or using the need a business question answered email link on the biz.org homepage.

The relaunch of biz.org follows an independent review of the site that included consultation with users, Dr Marks says. “We’ve listened to the feedback and incorporated the requests for additional information.” Following the revamp about 90% of material on the site is new. The navigation and layout have also been streamlined, and many more links and online tools were added.

“Biz.org is now even better tailored to the needs of small and medium-sized businesses, which make up the majority of New Zealand’s business owners”, Dr Marks says. It provides a single “front door” for business owners dealing with Government. “For example, if someone was hiring a new employer they could use biz.org to find out what to do about employee taxes, ACC, employment agreements and workplace safety. The site also provides links to online tools that enable employers fulfil these obligations, such as an online employment agreement builder.”

“The revamp has turned biz.org into more of an online business adviser”, Dr Marks says. “Previously the site was largely a “library” of reference information. Now it identifies the key issues for businesses and gives them direct access to the tools and resources they need.” Biz.org will continue to expand to meet the needs of small and medium-sized businesses, with further developments already planned, he says.

Biz.org is a whole-of-government initiative spearheaded by NZ Trade and Enterprise, the Government’s trade and economic development agency, in conjunction with the Ministry of Economic Development.

More

What’s biz.org? The biz (Business Information Zone) portal – www.biz.org.nz – helps business owners cut compliance costs and build better businesses. The portal pulls together a huge range of business-related information and resources from across government, and provides a one-stop-shop for dealing with compliance issues. It offers comprehensive information on government initiatives aimed at improving the skills of New Zealand businesses, and information on business training and industry organisations. The site has been tailored to the needs of small and medium-sized businesses, which make up the majority of New Zealand’s business owners.

Biz is a whole-of-government initiative, and provides a single “front door” for business owners dealing with government departments and agencies. The portal provides extensive information and practical tools that help businesses reduce the time and money spent dealing with compliance obligations. For example, it summarises the tax, ACC, employment and workplace safety obligations involved in taking on a new employee, then provides employers with forms, links and tools to fulfil these obligations.

There is information on how to start, grow and wind-up a business, and tips on running a business from home. There is also information for those wanting to expand their business or improve their management skills. This includes material on government initiatives and support. Detailed information and resources are also provided on topics such as mentoring, venture capital, exporting and managing business finances.

Biz.org is an initiative spearheaded by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, the government’s trade and economic development agency, in conjunction with the Ministry of Economic Development. It is part of NZ Trade and Enterprises’ Biz service, which provides specialist business information to small and medium-sized businesses. The Biz service also includes a call centre and walk-in centres based around the country, where prospective or existing business owners can get personalised advice. Those wanting specific questions answered can call an 0800 number to talk to a business advisor, or email questions to a business advisor using the need a business question answered link on the biz.org homepage.

Why biz.org was launched Biz.org was launched in July 2003, following the recommendations of the Ministerial Panel on Business Compliance Costs. The panel recommended in 2001 that a one-stop-shop portal be developed to provide better access to compliance information, and to help reduce compliance costs.

Previous research showed that the best way to reduce compliance costs was through good business practice. Biz.org adopted this approach, providing information on how businesses can set up good business systems that will help take care of their compliance obligations.

Phase 2 – Biz.org expands into an online business advisor After an independent review of biz.org, a decision was taken to expand the original scope of the portal, making it more of an online business advisor. The original site provided comprehensive information under a range of headings. But it was up to users to identify the topics and issues most relevant to their circumstances.

The review team sought to make the site more user focused by summarising the key compliance obligations, then providing links and tools so business owners could more easily fulfil these obligations. The site now provides a step-by-step guide for dealing with things like tax, ACC, employing staff and workplace safety. These guides were drawn up in conjunction with the relevant government departments and agencies. The review transformed the compliance section of the site, meaning that about 90% of the material is now new.

Step-by-step guides were also incorporated into parts of the site dealing with starting a business and building capacity. Users can now work through practical guides on getting ready to export or using e-commerce. The content in this part of the site was also expanded to cover topics such as training, mentoring, industry organisations, growing a business and managing business finances. Other changes include a simplified navigation, streamlined layout, and more links to relevant organisations.

The site revamp took into account feedback gathered from site users during the review. This feedback confirmed that biz.org has been successful in expanding the knowledge of business owners and helping them cut compliance costs. The site was highly thought-of by visitors and had increasing visitor numbers.

The future Biz.org will continue to develop to meet the needs of small and medium-sized businesses. Further developments are already planned to increase the portal’s usefulness and effectiveness as an online business advisor. This will include information on government initiatives to help build the capability of businesses.

ENDS

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