The Tauranga Chamber of Commerce's Small Business Tauranga initiative received a boost this week when Minister of Small Business Craig Foss addressed local business people on challenges and opportunities in the sector.

Small businesses dominate in the New Zealand economy, with chamber chief executive Stan Gregec estimating the sector accounted for 70-to-80 per cent of businesses in the region and within the chamber membership.

The chamber launched its new focus for the year on the sector in February with an event that drew more than 100 people, and about 50 invitees turned up on Tuesday to hear Mr Foss.

The minister emphasised the importance of small businesses being aware of the changes being forced on industries by technology, but also of the opportunities offered by developments in ICT. "Bookkeeping and accounting hasn't changed a bit, but companies like Xero and MYOB have come along and turned it on its head," he said.


"That's going to keep on happening. Whatever business you're in, in some part or in whole there will be another model coming. It doesn't mean it's a threat, but you need to be aware things are changing quicker than ever before."

Mr Foss urged the businessmen to take advantage of the potential productivity gains that new technology offered, including the data and analytics tools available on the government's

"Maybe it's time to outsource and have someone else do the HR, the accounting, the sourcing and allow you to do your plumbing, your building or your advisory service, and allow you to concentrate on what you know best - your own unique point of difference."

The minister also warned of heightened cyber risk in the current environment.

As well as securing physical assets, small businesses needed to step up their online security, he said.

Mr Gregec said having the minister in town was a good opportunity to hear the Government's thinking on supporting the small business sector, and his visit reinforced the aims of the chamber's initiative.

"A lot of companies start up, but don't grow beyond a certain size. We know that being in a small business is tough even with support."