Starting a business

According to the World Bank, New Zealand is the third easiest country in the world to do business (2013 ‘Doing Business’ report).

In the same report, they also rated us the easiest place in the world to set up a business and the third easiest for getting credit. Not a bad start.

Where to begin

A helpful place to start is the New Zealand Government’s website, set up specifically to assist start-up companies: 

Their website outlines a more detailed structure of starting and investing in a Kiwi business. In the meantime, here is an overview: 

Business structures: 

There are few restrictions on establishing, owning and operating a business in New Zealand.

The process of registering is almost instant. However, you will need to decide on the structure of your business first. Some SME’s (‘small to medium enterprises’) begin as a person set up as a Sole Trader, and then develop into a larger Limited Liability Company. Another common structure is a Partnership.

Sole trader: 

From the IRD website:

'A sole trader operates a business as an individual. The trader manages and owns the business and is entitled to all profits, but is also personally liable for all business taxes and debts. 

Usually a sole trader can establish the business without following any formal or legal processes and can employ other people to help run the business'. 


In a partnership two or more people run a business together. This type of structure can be an effective way to share business operation costs.

The partnership does not pay income tax itself. Instead the income is distributed to the partners. The partners themselves then pay tax on their individual income share.

No registration is required to start a partnership. However a well laid-out partnership agreement is recommend up front, covering any conflicts that may arise. 

Limited liability company: 

The limited liability company is the most popular type of business in New Zealand. Essentially a ‘company’ is a legal entity in its own right -  separate from its shareholders or owners. 

You can register (‘incorporate’) a company online through the Companies Office. 

Other business structures 

There are other structures available such as a Trading Trust and a Co-operative. They can be more complicated, so it’s best to read the fine print on the Companies website, and consult a specialist. 

Other start-up considerations

As well as establishing the structure of your business, there are several other issues you may want to consider, for example: 

  • Research your market thoroughly
  • Check local authority regulations
  • Get tax registered
  • Find an accountant
  • Find a bank (for funding or transfer international funds etc)
  • You may require a lawyer
  • You may also want independent financial advice
  • Check the availability of your business name 

Once again the Government’s Business and Companies Office websites could assist you through this process.

Buying a business or franchise

Buying a business instead of starting one yourself could be a great option if you want to hit the ground running, having just moved to New Zealand.

The main advantages are that systems, processes and staff are in place, you can access an established customer base, and an existing cash flow may be available.

Seems easy, however it’s important you do research before leaping into an investment. It’s key to research your market and competitors, as well as undertaking due diligence on the business.

Franchise options 

If you buy into a franchise business, it means you’re buying a new branch or taking over an existing one, which is part of an established brand. The franchisor typically charges the franchisee a fee to buy into the franchise, plus a share of the on-going profits.

Franchising can be a great option to buying a new business as you’re leveraging off an established brand name.

Basically, the company that owns the brand sells you a licence. The rules of using this licence are usually very strict around operations, branding and processes, but it means you often receive guidance and support from ‘head office’. 

How we can help

Our business advisors are extremely experienced. 

When you call to speak with a Migrant Banking specialist, they will put you in contact with the most appropriate industry specialist to assist your business investment decisions.