"Small business is set to start growing"

Bank of New Zealand is the 2013 winner of CANSTAR’s Best Value New Zealand Small Business Banking award. Harry Ferreira, BNZ’s Head of Small Business, Retail, shared his views on some of the main challenges, opportunities and requirements faced by New Zealand small business owners today.

The main challenges and opportunities

“The number one pain point for small businesses is cashflow, though an emerging barrier is a lack of understanding of how to successfully market their business,” says Harry. “The advertising and media landscape is so diverse that business owners either lack the skill or the knowledge to effectively utilise media to drive their business forward.

In today’s fast changing business environment business owners need to ensure their products and services remain relevant. Customer needs continue to change and staying relevant will help with future trade.”

Harry also cites as an emerging challenge the pending RBNZ Loan to valuation ratio changes. “Many businesses use their home as security and have traditionally drawn against their home loan when funding is required,” he says.

On the positive side, Harry is bullish on the economy. “The economy is looking set to start growing, especially with the huge rebuild efforts beginning to take shape in Christchurch,” he says. “This is a clear opportunity for the small business sector to grow rapidly. Industries such as the Technology, Health, Migrant and Food and Beverage are all areas we have identified to have strong future growth opportunities which will in turn help stimulate better GDP performance per capita.”

The key financial products

“Our Business Managers have in depth discussions with business owner to understand their business and personal needs, their plans for today, tomorrow and the future,” says Harry. “Often these discussions will result in solutions for short term Cash Flow assistance, Long Term lending to purchase Assets, as well as merchant payment solutions or transactional banking solutions. It’s important to tailor solutions for each customer and add value at both a business and a personal level – banking is about more than numbers.

Another essential part of financial wellbeing is to ensure both personal and business needs are protected. Given the key person risk many small businesses operate under, it is important that we ensure our customers are aware of the need to separate business and personal insurance. Given the links between the individual and their business any impacts on one has a direct consequences for the other.”

Bank of New Zealand also offer an impressive array of online educational resources and tools ““ a potential boon for time-poor small business owners. Harry nominates the online Business Start-up Health Check tool as one of his favourites.

“It takes just ten minutes to complete, and is designed to assess how well positioned a person may be to succeed in their new business,” he says. “At the end of the health check, we prepare a downloadable list of recommended actions to take. It provides a wealth of information and templates to help get their businesses heading in the right direction. It’s vital to have a plan and to have tested your idea before going to market – this is one of the most invaluable tools we have.”

What makes it enjoyable

“Business owners get into business for reasons as diverse as their business,” Harry observes. “I find the drive, passion and care people have for their small businesses to be inspiring and motivating.

Owning a business is a fast flowing, rapidly changing thing, exciting, frustrating and nerve wracking at the same time. We enjoy not just hearing about, but also helping our customers to tell their stories to the world. We love being a part of their journey.”

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