Cautious sense of relief, optimism from businesses


A quick nosey through business reports and predictions tells me that New Zealand small businesses are doing pretty well in the global shape of things.

Xero’s new Small Business Index showed the small business sector was performing better than average for the second month in a row across all four measures – sales, jobs, wages and the time it takes to be paid.

Looking more closely at the numbers, it’s good news, but we’re not there yet.

Small-business sales increased by 14.3% compared with last year, but we have to remember that we went into lockdown in the last week of March 2020.

Jobs numbers increased 3.7% year on the year, with the exception of hospitality which experienced a 7.8% decrease.

Small-business wages (average hourly earnings) were up 3.2% year on the year but the 2019 average monthly increase was 3.8%.

Time to be paid has decreased to 21.2 days which is good for small-business cashflow, but more than double the 10 days prompt payment goal that the Government self-imposed in June 2020 and widely recommended.

In chatting with local business owners, I’m hearing a sense of cautious relief and optimism. Many businesses have been doing at least as well as their owners had hoped and, in some cases, better than ever.

A key element locally is that those who are doing online sales are seeing uptake across the board. So, yes, we are shopping online as well as buying local, but some of our local small businesses are taking advantage of that trend by selling into other local, national and international markets.

At The Business Hive, we’re seeing a steady increase in the number of businesses getting in touch for contacts and connections – including newcomer businesses.

We’re seeing outstanding collaboration between traditionally competitive business, including in our own building project.

We’ve also noticed an increase in partnered-business promotions, where local businesses are working together to cross promote their products and/or services.

Right now, local businesses are also being asked for their input for the Waitaki District Council’s long-term, destination management and spatial plans. Make time to look ahead – your input now could help shore up many longer term benefits for our region.

Keep being engaged.

Follow the Oamaru Business Collective if you haven’t already.

Winter is coming and opportunities will keep coming too. Let’s get on and make the most of them.

  • Cara Tipping Smith is a director of The Business Hive and the Oamaru Business Collective chairwoman.