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What we can do to help our small business sector

What we can do to help our small business sector

New Zealand’s small businesses are struggling to survive in a tough environment, but a few simple measures could transform the sector into a powerhouse of economic growth.

Reduce the regulatory and fiscal burden on small business. Sometimes it seems like a large part of Government is devoted to finding obstacles to put in the way of business succeeding. We all accept the need for regulation but there has to be a balance. For many councils, regulation is a thinly veiled excuse to levy additional costs and use small businesses as cash cows. This abuse of monopoly power is something we see far too often and it needs to stop.

Level the playing field. For a country that prides itself in giving everyone a fair go we have some sectors that are definitely viewed as favourites. Many councils seem beholden to the powerful primary sector lobby groups, giving those businesses and easier run. There are plenty of examples of bias and yet all this does is shift the burden on to the businesses that can afford it least.

Invest in business support. It seems as though we’re content to label ourselves a ‘developed economy’ and leave it at that. The truth is that we are still developing and we need a better framework to support and grow small business. Regional business development should be a key priority and not an afterthought, particularly in the light of the housing pressures in Auckland. A small investment in our regional tourism organisations would pay big dividends in terms of both domestic and international visitor markets.

Small businesses make up 97 per cent of all our companies and contribute to one third of our GDP. It’s time that we stopped treating the sector as an afterthought and put it in to the spotlight, giving it the tools to grow and thrive. This is the best way to create an economy that will benefit all New Zealanders.

Michael Baines is the Chief Executive of the Motel Association of New Zealand. Mike has extensive experience working on behalf of small business through his work with trade associations, economic development and in the retail sector.


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