4 things to consider when investing in your small business

It’s safe to say that small businesses are the lifeblood of New Zealand’s economy. They account for 97% of all companies, employ 29% of workers and generate an estimated 26% of the country’s gross domestic product.

For the people behind these enterprises, success usually means long hours, hard work and a commitment to the future of your businesses and staff.

And, for most small business owners, that relentless dedication is being rewarded.

New Zealand small business growth: A pulse check

The latest CPA Australia Asia-Pacific Small Business Survey shows a positive trend in the growth of small businesses. Nearly 60% of Kiwi small businesses have grown over the past year, with 63% expecting further growth over the next 12 months.

This comes despite headwinds at home and abroad. Faced with a cooling global economy and cost pressures, the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research recorded that local business confidence dipped slightly in recent months with business owners now showing signs of caution around further expansion.

However, this pessimism may be unwarranted. Export demand remains strong and key domestic indicators are ticking along nicely. BusinessNZ’s recent economic summary points to “solid economic growth”, and the spectre of a capital gains tax has also been laid to rest.

Business groups – including Retail NZ and BusinessNZ – have welcomed the news, which would have curtailed small businesses’ ability to invest in their growth.

For a small business owner with a growth mindset, it’s never been easier to access capital via a small business loan. But growing a business also demands a solid strategy on your people and products, day-to-day functionality and physical location.

These are four of the key considerations for any small business owner thinking about growth:

1. Your people

For the vast majority of businesses, having the right people in place is critical. And, if you don’t have a talented team that’s invested in the business, your growth plans may fall at the first hurdle.

Investment isn’t a one-way street, though, and investment in your employees should be a top priority for you, as a business owner who’s looking to grow. Without a focus on the career development of your key workers, wider expansion may not succeed.

According to the Human Resources Institute of NZ, the loss of a staff member who has been with a company for over a year can cost the business three times that worker’s salary.

Begin by setting goals for your employees and aim to consistently give them a clear purpose and direction, aligned with your growth plans.

Once this is in place, review your training, remuneration and working benefits (such as working from home and flexible hours) on a continued basis.

2. Your products and services

Having a strong product offering, that has potential to grow, evolve and expand, is as critical as having the right people in place. While services that are either embedded into or sold alongside goods also play an important role in trade.

Ensure you have the right technology and processes in place to help you identify cross-sell and new product opportunities.

3. Your functionality

How well are your business processes and functionality set up for growth? Are they well established, tried and tested, and scalable? Or do they need creating and refining?

Many New Zealand business owners are turning to technology to achieve business efficiencies.

In the past two years alone, 28% of businesses have introduced automation technology to help process data, increase productivity, reduce human error and improve the quality of products and services they offer, according to Stats NZ. What have you implemented?

4. Your location

For all businesses, expansion usually involves relocating to larger premises or moving into new territories.

Aside from the physical structure of any new building, it’s essential to consider its wider geographical location. Direct concerns include access to transport hubs, road networks and public transport.

Also, does the location profit from proximity to related businesses? By clustering in one area, similar businesses – and those along supply chains – can increase productivity and profitability through economies of scale.

The tech clusters in Wellington and Canterbury are examples of the positive impacts of similar businesses locating and working together.

Building a small business is as challenging as it is rewarding. But with careful planning and access to the right finance, small businesses in New Zealand can best ensure that any investment – financially and emotionally – will provide healthy returns over the long term.

The information on this website is provided for general information only and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from financial, legal and taxation advisers. Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of the information, Prospa, its officers, employees and agents disclaim all liability (except for any liability which by law cannot be excluded), for any error, inaccuracy, or omission from the information or any loss or damage suffered by any person directly or indirectly through relying on this information.

4 different types of finance to help your business grow

A new wave of lending is revolutionising the way small businesses in New Zealand access finance. Here are some of the game changers you need to know about.

Cash flow lending

Cash flow loans are usually short-term loans to help you maximise a business opportunity or manage a lumpy cash flow.

Alternative lenders like Prospa offer small business loans up to $100,000 with no security required, so you don’t have to put your family home on the line. Other positives include faster applications and less paperwork, cash-flow friendly repayments and transparency around the total amount to be repaid.

Keep in mind that not all lenders are created equal: some don’t offer a fixed upfront price, leaving owners susceptible to interest rate rises, while others may include hidden fees and charges. Look for a lender with specific expertise in small business, a reputable track record and great customer feedback.

Invoice finance

Invoice finance helps small businesses and tradies maintain cash flow when waiting for customers to pay. There are two types of invoice financing:

  • Invoice factoring: Where you sell your invoices to a third party at a reduced cost in exchange for instant payment.
  • Invoice finance: Where you use an invoice you have issued as security to get a loan.

Some invoice finance providers offer 100% of the invoice value in exchange for a small drawdown fee and an ongoing weekly interest rate. Invoice financing is a good tool to have in your kit if you often have to wait for payment after completing projects and purchasing materials. To use invoice finance you need to be the kind of business that issues invoices – like a professional services firm, rather than a cash-based business like a café.

Crowdfunding

Popular in the social and charitable space, crowdfunding has recently matured in the business arena, with platforms like Snowball Effect facilitating substantial amounts of private investment in New Zealand.

The most common crowdfunding model is based on rewards and incentives. A ‘backer’ pledges money to support your business or product idea in exchange for a discount on the new product or another reward. Rewards can be anything from a percentage of revenue to free products or the opportunity to help in the design process.

On the upside, business owners keep full ownership and clients are investors – providing direct access to market feedback. For investors, there is low risk for small amounts.

On the downside, some platforms are all or nothing, with no access to funds if the overall goal isn’t reached. Business owners need to commit time to promoting the campaign and dealing with backers, and still need to deliver on their promises if things don’t go to plan.

Crowdfunding is a form of equity funding – meaning you usually have to give up equity in the business, and is best suited to a start-up rather than an established business. It’s not a viable solution if you need help managing cash flow.

Venture capitalists and angel investors

If you need a large cash injection to start up or take your business to the next level, angel investors or venture capitalists could be good people to meet.

Angel investors

Angel investors are often business owners or high net worth individuals who see the potential in your business and want some involvement. They usually invest in industry sectors they’re familiar with and will want a targeted return on their investment. They may structure their involvement as a loan, or as equity, or a combination of both. Angel investors often come on board in the early stages of a business and contribute their experience and knowledge in addition to funding. It’s important to choose an investor who can add value and has the same vision for your business that you do.

In the technology sector, angel investment is having a big impact, particularly in Wellington.

Figures from this year show record levels of early-stage investment, with combined funding from New Zealand-based angel investors and domestic crowdfunding increasing by 35% to $112 million. Angel and crowdfunding investments into the tech sector have risen at an annual growth rate of 18% over the past four years.

Angel Association New Zealand is a great place to start if you’re looking for this type of investment in your small business.

Venture capitalists

Venture capitalists are investment companies or fund managers who provide cash in return for part-ownership of your business. They tend to look at larger businesses and differ from angel investors in that they typically want to invest larger amounts and have more comprehensive requirements.

VCs may not want to play an active role in the management of your business, instead taking a seat on your board. To find out more about venture capital opportunities in NZ, check out the NZVCA.

When opportunity knocks for small businesses, there’s a range of new choices for raising funds. Prospa can help you access the funds to manage cash flow or take advantage of opportunities when they arise. Talk to our team on 0800 005 797.

What fintech means for your business

New Zealand’s financial services sector is alive with unprecedented disruption that’s changing the business landscape. If that sounds a little dramatic (and exciting), it is.

Driven by a wave of tech finance startups offering endlessly smart solutions, mixed with rapidly emerging technologies such as AI and a hungry consumer appetite for intuitive online services, it’s more a case of what isn’t fintech.

Fintech has been around for a while, and you’re probably already using it – like Xero and PayPal taking the hassle out of paying, receiving and tracking money. Is anyone still using a spreadsheet?!

Fintech is so popular because it’s displacing old ways of doing things with easier – and more productive – solutions. According to Forbes, US$27.4 billion worldwide poured into fintech startups in 2017, up 18% from 2016.

So how are we going in New Zealand? NZ’s FinTech Survey 2017, published by PwC, noted that 15% of global annual turnover in financial services is devoted to fintech, but in New Zealand, that figure sits at just 6%.

Local businesses and consumers are being readied for the digital finance revolution, with the survey also finding that 91% of the financial services respondents expect that they will partner with a fintech in the next three to five years.

The local fintech industry is represented by FinTechNZ, with representatives from the tech and finance industries, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, banks and government. Everyone is in  and for good reason.

It’s all pointing to the rapid adoption of a new norm, where people expect to be able to manage all their business  and their finances  online.

And it’s not just about managing money, but sourcing and securing funds. Fintech’s alternative banking options are making it easier for anyone with a good idea and a sound starting point to grow much faster than with the constraints of traditional lending.

How fintech is changing the landscape for small businesses

Here are some of the main ways fintech is helping Kiwi businesses grow.

1. Cloud accounting

Cloud-based software like Xero has quickly become the norm for SMEs, accountants and advisors.

Log on anytime and see exactly what’s going on in your business. And when you need a cash injection for a growth spurt, it’s easier to show lenders or investors what’s happening within your accounts.

2. Global payments

It used to be a pain to accept payments from someone in another country, but thanks to services like PayPal small businesses can sell worldwide with fewer hassles and a much bigger market.

3. Easier and faster access to money

It’s not uncommon for business owners here in New Zealand to borrow from family and friends to avoid the often-arduous process of traditional loan applications via the banks. As a result, the lines between personal and business finance can often become blurred.

Traditional lenders also usually look for security to borrow against, along with years’ worth of financial data, which of course you may not have from the early days.

We understand that small businesses need finance to run and have made accessing money far easier with funding available in 24 hours.

4. Online lending for small businesses

Prospa shares the principles that Kiwis value in their banks – such as building personal relationships, clear vision and honesty – and applied them to products and services that the small business community has told us they need. And we’ve done this all online so our customers can spend less time on paperwork and more time working on their business.

Prospa has funded over $540m (AUD$500m) in loans and helped over 12,000 small business owners. Find out how your business could thrive with a cash flow boost from Prospa.