As business confidence slides, and the World Bank predicts a slowdown in the global economy, could up to 97 per cent of Kiwi businesses be financially exposed?
Small to Medium sized Enterprises (SME) are big business in New Zealand. Defined by employing 20 or fewer people, these firms account for around $80.6 billion, or 28 per cent, of our gross domestic product. But, their size and structure could leave them susceptible to any downturn or volatility in the market.
The importance of SME to our economy is well documented but behind the statistics and headlines are business owners who need backing. Even a ripple in the economy can be hard to navigate for some small businesses if they are not adequately prepared or supported.
Canstar general manager Jose George sums it up: “An SME needs to be flexible and responsive. The business owner needs to know what’s coming in and what’s going out, what interest rates they’re paying, what trends the business goes through, what trends the market is experiencing, what’s the outlook, and more. All of this knowledge can help keep a business financially fit and put it in a much stronger position if the economy does slow down.
“But, strengthening a business is often something an owner cannot achieve in isolation. To adopt good practices, and obtain this depth of knowledge, SME needs agile support services to guide them and help them learn.”
According to BNZ, the winner of this year’s Canstar Bank of the Year – Small Business, there are a number of measures SME can take to underpin their position and cushion the pressure of an economic downturn. Assessing debt levels, keeping a weekly, or sometimes daily, track of finances and looking for opportunities to improve productivity and reduce the volume of slow moving stock, enable’s an owner to analyse what’s happening in their business and make necessary adjustments. Just as important is to make sure the quality or service being provided delivers a great customer experience. In an economic downturn customer loyalty counts.
Speed, agility and support
In today’s world, the speed at which a business needs to operate can be breath taking and, using the continuing innovations of financial technology, banks are not only responding, they’re setting the pace in how to support our nation of SME.
The role of funders – banks – has transformed in recent years as they have recognised SME needs go beyond access to funding. They have recognised the need for wider business advice, support and insights, and they are responding. Ranging from technology specially designed for SME to offering work space and networking opportunities, banks have realised that as a regular touch point for small business owners, they are also a gateway to support.”
What is on offer to SMEs?
Canstar conducts an annual research and review exercise to establish the level of information, financial support and banking services that are available to SME from banks in New Zealand. Research is based, and institutions are judged, on the following factors:
- Business loan products
- Additional products
- Business banking facilities
- Relationship managers and support services
- Other business services and advice
- Business insights and education
Canstar Bank of the Year – Small Business
With a range of products designed to fit the nature of every business, BNZ has been named Canstar Bank of the Year, Small Business, 2018.
BNZ general manager small business, Harry Ferreira, says the company is proud to have won the award for the seventh time in eight years, and puts it down to offering more than great banking products.
“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, and we want to be more than just their bank. We want to help them run their businesses better, give them the advice and resource they need to grow and scale, and even help them take on the world and access new markets overseas.
“Cashflow is essential, so with PayClip they can get paid on the spot. Our Community 101 initiative is a business co-working space available to customers free of charge, with facilities like Wi-Fi, meeting rooms, and even free coffee. It lets owners get work done and helps them connect with other small business owners to learn and grow together.
“We’ve also been long supporters of the Kiwi Landing Pad in San Francisco, which helps New Zealand high-growth companies expand into the US market. Over the last seven years, we’ve helped 3000 New Zealand companies access this amazing resource for free, and supported their Sales and Marketing Jam which brings lessons and experiences back to New Zealand to help those thinking about making the leap.”