Launch of NZ Business Performance Panel

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Stout Street, Wellington

Check against delivery, 4.45pm

Introduction and Acknowledgements

Hello and welcome to members of our small business community, industry associations, and the experts from the business.govt.nz team.

Thank you Matt Kennedy-Good for inviting me to officially launch the New Zealand Business Performance Panel.

It is a real pleasure to be here today to talk about the importance of small businesses to New Zealand, and how as a Government we are committed to creating an environment which supports success.

I am going to discuss where we are now, but more importantly, where we want to be, and highlight the role the panel will play in overcoming the shared challenges our small businesses face – including taking on the productivity gap.

Importance of small business to New Zealand

As many in this room will acknowledge, small businesses are the backbone of our economy. Small businesses employ almost a third of our workers, and contribute over a quarter to our GDP.

We know that with the right mix of ambition, innovation, and support, that Kiwi businesses can be the best in the world across all spheres of business from the primary sections to the most advanced computer design and augmented reality through to rockets.

But no matter what the ambition of our small businesses are, as a Government we want to give every small business in New Zealand the tools and the confidence to meet their potential, and realise their goals as a business.

When small businesses succeed, everyone in New Zealand benefits.

One of the ways government can assist is by creating platforms and technologies for New Zealand businesses to connect, both with each other, and with others overseas.

Government initiatives for small business

There is great work being done by government to support small businesses, including a lot right here at MBIE.

The New Zealand Business Number (NZBN) is one such example, as it looks to provide a globally unique identifier available to all Kiwi businesses.

This will help create a transactional environment where there can be greater certainty of identity, more reliable information, less duplication and much-needed efficiencies. 

Businesses will be able to see supply chains, build trusted networks, find and assess providers, improve customer service and a whole lot more. Used to its full potential, the NZBN will not be just a number, but a business asset.

The true potential of the NZBN lies in its power to connect, and I expect many businesses will find clever ways to use this information.

Business.govt.nz

MBIE is also the home of business.govt.nz, the primary channel between government and small business in New Zealand

With 2.4 million visits to the website in 2017, a monthly newsletter with close to 220,000 subscribers, and a following of nearly 28,000 across their social media channels, business.govt.nz is well placed to listen to the needs of small business and make an impact.

These tools help simplify compliance, and let people get on with their business. This is government listening to businesses, and moving to meet their needs.

Internationally, business.govt.nz is a relatively unique channel -and it presents an opportunity to reach our small businesses with the right advice, at the right time in their business journey.

This is important because if our small businesses perform better, they can be more productive, and have greater opportunity to succeed, grow, and achieve their goals.

Overcoming our shared challenges

It is worth acknowledging that there are a lot of things New Zealand does well.  In the 2018 World Bank ‘Ease of Doing Business’ rankings, we ranked first out of 190 economies. They gave us the top spot for starting a business, registering property, and getting credit.

New Zealand was also ranked as one of three “Stand Outs” among digital nations in the Digital Planet analysis by academics from Tuft University in the US.  We placed towards the top of 100 indicators about our digital capabilities.

Since becoming the Minister for Small Business I have been able to meet many people who are like-minded about the importance of small businesses, who have contributed to these successes, and are driven to help them overcome the shared challenges we face together from our little corner of the Pacific.

One of the challenges I would like to help New Zealand businesses rise to meet is our lower productivity than comparable overseas countries.

Addressing this productivity gap is a priority of this Government.

It has been suggested by the OECD that improving New Zealand’s management practices could help bridge this gap, and this was supported by the research of the Productivity Commission and business.govt.nz.

This is why business.govt.nz has brought together this panel, with the aim of connecting New Zealand’s small businesses to thought leaders from around the world. Matt will be introducing them to you shortly.

I understand that the Panel’s first suite of resources, focused on management and leadership, is now available on business.govt.nz. 

Also launching this week is advice and tools on finance. I’m looking forward to this next instalment, and I support business.govt.nz’s push on productivity.

The challenges faced by New Zealand’s small business community, such as our distance from markets, payment terms and tax settings will not be solved overnight.  

However through new technologies, and the determination and goodwill of all of us in and around our small businesses, we can begin to make a difference.

Concluding remarks

As a Government we are committed to building a strong economy, and ensuring that the wider business environment supports business growth and performance.

I appreciate the time to speak to you today, and thank the members of the New Zealand Business Performance Panel for their attendance and the expertise they offer to kiwi businesses.