New small business export programme launched
Creating a higher value economy depends on getting more entrepreneurial Kiwi businesses into export mode.
A new Certificate in Entrepreneurship (Export) offered by The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand aims to provide small business owners and managers with the tools and skills they need to make the big leap offshore.
The distance learning programme uses a unique approach to helping small business owners get export ready.
Before enrolling prospective learners assess their knowledge, skills and experience in key areas using a special online tool. This means they only enrol in what is relevant to them.
Once underway they work with practical learning materials and a course mentor to develop their business and network with other business owners and practitioners online.
Upskilling small business owners in e-commerce is another key feature of the programme and students can learn how to develop an export oriented website for their business as part of their study.
The certificate is part of the Centralised Online Management of Export and Trade (COMET) initiative. COMET supports businesses in overcoming the usual constraints of money, time, staffing, and distance from export markets to bring their products in to the global arena.
“We are really excited about this new offering,” says Open Polytechnic programme leader Chris Matthews.
“It’s unique because of its upfront business assessment and flexibility and because it’s integrated with the larger COMET package.”
Matthews is part of The Open Polytechnic’s Centre for Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development that has regularly featured in the Vero Awards for excellence in supporting New Zealand’s small and wider business sectors.
He was also an individual finalist in this year’s Vero awards for his work in small business education.
“The certificate will help small business owners establish processes, set goals and hopefully work smarter rather than harder,” he says.
“There is also a huge online support system using a ‘business club’ approach. This will enable small businesses to establish relationships with each other as well as road test their ideas with real practitioners.”
Fellow Open Polytechnic tutor Tom Laing sees the education programme as a big boon for small business owners who have a great product but face barriers in entering the export market. “Not many people realise that when you put up a website over 30% of your visitors are located overseas. If you sell and deliver to them you’re into exporting. This is a course that will help the little guy into exporting through e-commerce,” says Laing.
For Wendy Forman, owner of Uncommonly Good Ltd, the programme has come at the right time. She’s planning an online export pipeline to sell selected New Zealand produce and commodities offshore.
She’s already undertaken the online diagnostic, and says to get the most from the tool you have to be very honest in your self-evaluation. “Based on my weaknesses from the online diagnostic I am hoping that what I learn will improve my ability to concretely plan business ventures as well as my company structure, and enhance my knowledge of the online environment and the tools that are available”, says Ms Forman.
She says the flexibility of distance study, and being able to select how many modules you need to undertake based on your previous business experience is another reason she was attracted to the certificate. “I like the fact that going through the courses assists with knowledge while you grow your business to the next level, or if starting a new venture or company, the programme helps you with establishing the necessary structure to start with assurance and support.”