Kiwis are entrepreneurs

The entrepreneurial spirit in New Zealand is alive and well: according to figures released by Statistics New Zealand earlier this year, there were approximately 469,120 enterprises in New Zealand in February 2012, employing approximately 1.92 million workers. The real figure in relation to business numbers is likely to be higher than quoted as the statistics are limited to all employing units and those enterprises with GST turnover greater than $30,000 per year.

Their location

In terms of location, Statistics NZ advises that most of our businesses are broken down as follows:

Location No. of businesses Location No. of businesses
Northland 19,822 Auckland 161,154
Waikato 50,764 Bay of Plenty 32,838
Gisborne 4,889 Hawke’s Bay 17,946
Taranaki 14,488 Manawatu-Wanganui 25,029
Wellington 51,864 Tasman 6,390
Nelson 5,592 Marlborough 6,830
West Coast 3,837 Canterbury 63,471
Otago 25,732 Southland 13,550
Source: Statistics New Zealand


Their employment

There are many sole traders out there: almost 70% of the surveyed enterprises in New Zealand do not employ other staff. The employment composition of New Zealand businesses is:

Do not employ others: 322,887
1–5 employees: 97,320
10 – 50 employees: 24,506
50 – 99 employees: 2,547
100+ employees: 2,145


Their industry

New Zealand businesses are spread over a wide and diverse range of industries. In terms of business numbers, the ten most populous industry divisions by number of businesses are as follows:

Rental, hiring & real estate 96,821 Retail trade 25,740
Agriculture, forestry & fishing 70,570 Other services 21,096
Professional, scientific & technical 49,996 Manufacturing 20,581
Construction 49,099 Accommodation & food services 18,141
Financial & insurance services 29,178 Health care & social assistance 16,898
Source: Statistics New Zealand


Their longevity

Perhaps most sobering for would-be entrepreneurs is the sometimes high attrition rate of business lives. Approximately 17% of businesses started in New Zealand survive for less than one year and only 28% survive for a decade. The smaller the business, the less likely the ongoing survival rate. To an extent this may represent convenience, with a small non-employing business outliving its usefulness as the life stage of the owner changes over time.

For the 2012 calendar year, the births, deaths and operation figures were as follows:

Number of enterprises


Enterprise births


Enterprise deaths


Enterprise birth rate


Enterprise death rate


Turnover rate


Source: Statistics New Zealand

While there are plenty of challenges associated with running a business, there are also many rewards. And most certainly for those with the desire to do so, the ability to start and run a business in New Zealand is on offer.

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