Business leaders who are young, female or Māori are among the most optimistic in the country, a new survey of business confidence shows.
The Grow NZ report, commissioned by Westpac, was released today.
Westpac NZ chief executive David McLean said there were marked variations in the responses of different groups.
Forty per cent of women reported business growth in recent years, compared to 32% of men. And, looking to the future, 55% of under-35s expected business conditions to improve, compared to 41% of 35-59 year olds and 34% of those over 60.
Māori, Indian and Asian respondents were more confident about the future than those identifying as European.
The survey also revealed a contrast in the expansion plans of different sized businesses.
“Twice as many large businesses are planning to expand than Small and Medium Enterprises. We delved into why that is and found that more SME business leaders than ever before regard maintaining work-life balance as their chief stumbling block,” said Mr McLean.
“47% of SMEs said work-life balance was a barrier to expansion and 22% of them said it was their main barrier.”
Other obstacles to growth, for businesses of all sizes, included a lack of skilled staff, access to funds and increased competition.
Mr McLean said as a nation, New Zealand needed to up its game when it came to supporting businesses that wanted to grow and Westpac was committed to playing a part.
“It would be great to have more small businesses feeling equipped to expand, as we know large businesses employ more people, earn more income and have more consistent growth aspirations.
“We want to help fledgling enterprises spread their wings through our Westpac Business Growth Grants programme, which we launched this month. It offers mentoring, cash and a chance to go on a business retreat in Hawaii, as part of a push to help upcoming Kiwi businesses reach their full potential.”
The survey also showed there was a significant difference in the way automation is perceived, depending on business size.
“More than half of large businesses expect they’ll automate parts of their operation in the next five years, compared to less than a quarter of smaller enterprises,” Mr McLean said.