Make more ‘good old ordinary’ connections


A year ago, we were in lockdown.

I can’t remember whether we had just ordered a box of River-T wine or had just finished drinking it? Whichever – thank you River-T!

Since then, I’ve lost count (and it’s not the wine’s fault . . . it could be the wine’s fault) of the number of business support initiatives I’ve seen.

There’s been a lot going on.

There’s been long-standing subsidised resources like Regional Business Partners Network and Mentors NZ.

There’s been new funding support like wage subsidies, Covid-19 relief funds and flexi-wage programmes (employee and self-employment).

There’s been inspired (and inspiring) new initiatives like Manaaki, Digital Boost and Small Business Day NZ and a multitude of Facebook groups sharing and promoting products and services with outstanding results. Yes, on digital, and if we’re not participating – we are losing out!

CPA Australia tells us that over 11 years of surveying, NZ small businesses have consistently lagged in the Asia-Pacific region for investment in innovation and participation in the digital economy.

Most recently, a quarter of all NZ businesses surveyed made no major changes as a result of the pandemic and only 9.3% reported an increase in focus on online sales!

That’s NZ as a whole.

Last year, Waitaki received about 2% of the Covid-19 Advisory Support funding for Otago. We have about 10% of Otago’s businesses.

That was a fully funded, targeted support programme for any business affected by Covid-19. Most of the funding went to Queenstown Lakes (57%) and Dunedin (26%).

Most of us didn’t apply or applied too late. Missed out.

Right now, support is out there for whatever challenges a business may face; mental, financial, interpersonal, logistics, health & safety, staffing, foreign exchange, sustainability, start-up funding, sales skills, supplier sourcing, marketing . . . It’s all on offer – paid for, subsidised and free!

So how do we find out? How do we know which of it is good?

We ask around.

That means turning up to some business events. It means joining some of those groups. Not just to sell our stuff (so 1990) but to chew the fat, make connections and be in the loop.

How did I find out about River-T doing wine deliveries during lockdown?

Yep, connections.

Not the elite kind. Just the good old ordinary, catch up and share kind. Then I bought it online.

It’s that simple and it’s time to join in.

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