Small business

We represent the voice of New Zealand’s small and micro businesses, provide advice to the Minister for Small Business and deliver and coordinate services that support small businesses to thrive.

Small business in New Zealand

New Zealand is a nation of small and micro business – including self-employed. Defined as those with fewer than 20 employees, there are approximately 530,000 small businesses in New Zealand representing 97% of all firms. They account for 28 per cent of employment and contribute over a quarter of New Zealand’s gross domestic product (GDP). (Data source: Stats NZ.)

New Zealand has a higher percentage of small and micro businesses than other countries, noting that most countries define small businesses as having fewer than 50 employees. By comparison, our large enterprises are generally smaller than those overseas. 

The recovery of New Zealand’s small businesses post COVID-19 is vital to the sustainability and growth of the economy and to the wellbeing of thousands of small business owners and the people they employ. They provide jobs and incomes across all parts of the country; provide the goods and services that keep our communities thriving; and help showcase New Zealand as a world-class place to live and do business. 

Small businesses are represented in every industry, have many different operating models and interact with government and the economy in a range of ways. The role of government is to:

  • Understand the unique needs and characteristics of New Zealand’s small businesses and the issues they face,
  • Create an enabling regulatory environment that supports small businesses to thrive,
  • Deliver initiatives that make it easier for small businesses to deal with government, and
  • Ensure that small business owners are aware of and have access to the broad range of support available to them.

MBIE's Small Business Collective

MBIE’s Small Business Collective is a dedicated function focused on small business, with a dedicated Minister for Small Business. The Small Business Collective brings together strategy, policy and service delivery and is focused on representing the voice of New Zealand’s small and micro businesses in the design and delivery of policies and services, within MBIE and across government.

The Collective is responsible for a broad programme of work that includes overseeing the implementation of the Small Business Strategy which was established by the former Small Business Council.

The Collective works closely with small businesses, the private sector and with the government departments that small businesses most often deal with, including Inland Revenue, ACC, NZTE, Customs, MPI, WorkSafe, NZTA and the Treasury.

Small Business Council

The Small Business Council (SBC) was formed in 2018 for 12 months to provide advice to the Minister for Small Business and to develop a New Zealand small business strategy.

In July 2019 the SBC presented the Government with their ‘New Zealand Small Business Strategy: Empowering small businesses to aspire, succeed and thrive’.

New Zealand Small Business Strategy: Empowering small businesses to aspire, succeed and thrive [PDF, 1.2 MB]

Defining Small Business [PDF, 485 KB]

Support Structures for the Small Business Sector [PDF, 472 KB]

Read the media statement on the Beehive website(external link)

Small Business Strategy

The New Zealand Small Business Strategy contains 20 recommendations across 4 strategic themes, which the Collective oversees as part of their work programme. These themes are:

  • Understanding the needs of small businesses – creating an environment that empowers and enables small businesses to succeed by understanding business needs.
  • Easier access to finance – recognising finance is one of the essential fuels that gets businesses started, drives them forward and enables them to grow.
  • Building capability and skills – building skills and capability for small businesses to reach their full potential.
  • Shifting from compliance to enablement – designing an enabling regulatory environment.

Small Business Digital Boost

Supporting the digital enablement of New Zealand’s small and micro businesses is instrumental to achieving some of the outcomes set out in the Small Business Strategy, and to support the long term resilience and well-being of small business owners.

In the current economic environment, innovation is critical and many businesses are quickly adapting the ways they operate, trade and engage with their customers and other businesses. Digital adoption is no longer a ‘nice to have' – digital skills need to be a cornerstone of our recovery efforts.

To support more business owners to realise the benefits of digitalisation, including greater use of digital tools and adopting digital business processes. 

Small business digital package: Digital BoostTM

Small Business factsheet

This factsheet brings together previously released data from a range of Statistics New Zealand business surveys and summarises the results relating to small businesses.

Small Business Factsheet 2021 [PDF, 822 KB]

Small Business Factsheet 2019 [PDF, 1.1 MB]

Small Business Factsheet 2017 [PDF, 1022 KB]

Small Business Factsheet 2016 [PDF, 1019 KB]

More information

New Zealand's Support for Small Business has more information on government agencies' support for small businesses:

New Zealand's Support for Small Business [PDF 5.1MB](external link)

The Small Business Development Group was dis-established in 2017. Read their report and the Government response:

Small Business Development Group 2016 report [PDF, 689 KB] 

Government's response to the Small Business Development Group's 2016 report [PDF, 472 KB]

Last updated: 28 September 2020