Small business owners rate safety and lifestyle benefits as the main advantages to being based in New Zealand, according to a new study.

The latest MYOB Business Monitor, a national survey of 1000 small and medium-sized companies, asked New Zealand business owners to rate the key advantages of running a business here rather than overseas.

New Zealand's safety as place to work came out on top, with 83 per cent of SMEs rating this as the country's strongest attribute.

That was closely followed by lifestyle advantages offered in New Zealand, ticked as a key factor by 82 per cent of business owners.


The results were a reminder that New Zealand is a safe, secure place to invest, and this is an economic advantage for the country, said MYOB general manager Julian Smith.

"If you look around and see all the unrest and uncertainty around the globe, you can understand why New Zealand stands out as such an appealing place to own a business."

Smith said SMEs appear to consider a wide range of factors, such as lifestyle and safety, when choosing to start a business in New Zealand.

"Unfortunately, when we look at New Zealand's economic performance - particularly in comparison with our trading partners - many of these intangible factors aren't measured.

"But they do have an impact on New Zealand's prosperity - they make us a safe place to invest, a country with a recognised international brand, and a culture that respects education and celebrates innovation."

Other key advantages to running a small to medium-sized business here were the education system (77 per cent), stable economy (75 per cent), and proximity to family and friends (73 per cent).

The survey also found that 71 per cent believe New Zealand's number eight-wire mentality and culture of innovation offer benefits for companies working here.

Bottom of the list was New Zealand's high value dollar, which attracted only 32 per cent agreement, and lower wage costs, which attracted 36 per cent agreement.


"Clearly business owners are making some trade-offs to work here," Smith said.

"They might enjoy the lifestyle and the ability to be close to friends and family, but the costs of competing in export markets and the continual struggle to attract staff who can get higher wages offshore make it harder to run a business in New Zealand."

Views on benefits differed from sector to sector, Smith said

Businesses in the hospitality and retail sector rated New Zealand's education system above safety. Positive tourist perceptions was also rated higher by this sector than New Zealand business owners as a whole.

New Zealand exporters valued the country's culture of innovation far more highly than the overall view, with 81 per cent of exporters compared to 71 per cent for the rest of the country.

"The experiences of different business owners have a real impact on whether a sector is likely to consider these areas an advantage for the economy or not," Smith said.

"In industries like construction, for example, where business owners often have to deal with a lot of red tape, regulation and resource consents, New Zealand's regulatory framework is far less likely to be seen as an advantage than in other sectors."

The MYOB survey was conducted by Colmar Brunton between May and June this year this year.