A YouGov* study commissioned by Prospa showed that 49% of small businesses are most likely to invest in new products and services in the next 6 to 12 months, 30% have plans to hire employees, and another 30% have plans to renovate or upgrade their business. While the pandemic was a challenging period for some businesses, these figures point to some welcome optimism around how small businesses are planning to grow over the coming months. 

Here, three of Prospa’s Local Business Hero finalists share the investments they’re making to encourage new growth and make their businesses more resilient. 

Building and renovation

Richard Smith, Auto Super ShoppeRanfurly:

“We’ve just built a new reception and customer waiting room onto the workshop which not only makes our work environment 100% better, but gives our customers somewhere to wait with a coffee and keep warm. The other advantage is that it has stopped customers walking straight into the workshop area as the first point of call. 

“We took over the Husqvarana sales and servicing for our area about 18 months ago and are investing in establishing display and workshop areas to promote the products. It was slow-moving at the start thanks to COVID, but things are looking really positive and the community has been very supportive. They love being able to buy the product then get it serviced and looked after in the same place – that’s a big advantage. 

“We also bought a motorbike trailer so we can drive ride-on mowers onto it and then pick up and deliver as needed.  

“The new office space has allowed us to display products that customers can easily buy on the spot – like files and chains. Then they can also get some hands-on experience with bigger ticket items like chainsaws and mowers so they can decide which one is best for them. 

“We took over from a business that had closed down and so the community is really happy to have the products still available. We’ve always had the philosophy that if we purchase and supply quality products, they are always a great investment.”

Recruitment and staffing

Mary Jane Bailey, Lemon Tree Lane Gift Shop, Nelson:

“There is always so much you want to do and I often find myself thinking about the ‘what if’ for my business. 

“The easiest way to grow would be to open a second store, and I have plenty of customers suggesting I do this. But opening in a new area can involve a new demographic, so what works for me with my largely retired customer base who are time rich but often a little cash poor and don’t shop online, is not going to work if I opened in Nelson city, for example, where the customers are the opposite – workers who are cash rich, time poor and online savvy. 

“So I have decided to stay put for the time being, although if a larger shop in my area became available I would be tempted to move. 

“I have, however, decided to invest in myself – getting a better work/life balance, taking time to meet with friends, exercising every day and delegating more. 

“I know that small business owners are notoriously bad at taking care of themselves, but I’m committed to making myself a better manager and life partner by meeting my social needs and keeping healthy, so I can be the most productive in the hours I do spend at work and not feel tired and run down. 

“In the past I haven’t expected much more from my staff than serving the customers and keeping the place clean and tidy. But now I involve them in the buying, pricing and merchandising of stock, so I have more time to spend looking for new products and opportunities to grow and improve the store. As a result, we’ve taken on another part-time staff member and the place now runs like a well-oiled machine.” 

New equipment and programs

Matthew Newman & Lynnae PaluF45, Takapuna:

“Ultimately everything we do is centred on our members – their goals and circumstances. So the investments we make are always about improving the experience we can offer them – from exciting new workout programs to top-of-the-range new equipment. 

“We have invested in new F45 Ski Ergs and bikes, and can’t wait for them to arrive in time for a fresh program built around an Olympics theme to get everyone inspired. 

“In August we commence our ‘Spring into Summer’ campaign which encapsulates a range of incentives to encourage and reward members for committing to and delivering on their goals.  

“We are also introducing Challenge 34 in October and November which is a new program designed to help members be in tip top shape for the festive season.  

“With these investments we not only keep our current members motivated and engaged but expand what’s on offer so we can attract more members.”

*YouGov Research Report commissioned by Prospa was conducted online between 19 April and 3 May 2021 on a sample of 203 New Zealand Small Business Owners/Managers of 1 to 50 employees.