A growing number of young kiwis now see entrepreneurship as a viable career choice which places New Zealand on the "cusp of a wave" it cannot afford to miss, says the author of guide for budding business leaders.

Dr Ian Hunter said interest in entrepreneurship and innovation had increased massively among young New Zealanders in the last decade.

This was largely because of the success of people like Trade Me founder Sam Morgan and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, he said.

"We have seen some great high profile cases of hugely successfully young entrepreneurs.


"I think what's happened through the media is that it's been increasingly legitimised as a career choice."

Hunter, who spent 20 years as an academic at the University of Auckland Business School, said New Zealand's economy would ultimately lose out if young innovators were not supported.

"We're on the cusp of a wave and we either support that or miss it. Anything we can do to support young people is going to be great for this country."

Innovation and entrepreneurship were "a key ingredient" in economies being able to pull themselves out of recession, he said.

While big companies added "a few jobs here and there", it was the smaller, fast-growing businesses which contributed high job numbers, he said.

The government needed to be pouring more money into the regions, where grants could be allocated to promising entrepreneurs. Investing in start-ups would yield "good bang for their buck", he said.

Hunter's lifelong passion for supporting young business leaders eventually led to him writing The Young New Zealander's Guide to Entrepreneurship.

"The book teaches readers how to come up with new ideas, manage projects, run a team and be more alert to the commercial reality of their business decisions."

It was a handbook for young Kiwis who had the desire to turn a good idea into a successful business, he said.

Endorsed by the Young Enterprise Trust, the book includes advice from business leaders such as Sir Peter Leitch, Sir Stephen Tindall and Anne Norman.

The Young Enterprise Trust is an independent charitable trust which now has around 30,000 participants.

It has played a huge role in fostering interest in innovation and entrepreneurship in New Zealand, Hunter said.

Three people who buy the book get the chance to spend the day with and get personal advice on a business idea from one of the experts featured.