Katie Wellington, Manager, Business.govt.nz, a website originally launched in 2007 and funded and operated by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE)

Business.govt.nz is primarily geared to New Zealand's small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs), 97 per cent of New Zealand businesses.

The Business.govt.nz offering includes the website, a mobile business toolbox app, social media channels, and the 0800BizInfo support phone line. It has a number of interactive tools such as business healthchecks, quizzes, online training, templates and calculators.

Late last year, it released ONECheck - company name, domain name and trade mark search in one search - and this month the website will go fully mobile-friendly, reflecting the increasing use of that channel. Last year, over a million people visited the website.

Where do you believe small businesses need help?


Small businesses have told us they can feel overwhelmed with government "stuff", that it can be a minefield, that they don't know where to start, let alone where to go next. They often don't want to spend their time trawling through different agency websites trying to find out what they need to do. They want the basics so they can figure things out, not all the fineprint. They want to be led to that when they're ready.

Businesses have also given us the three things that keep them up at night; cash flow, compliance and employees.

Why did you want to create an app for small businesses?

We know that entrepreneurs and business owners are busy and need to get the most out of their time, no matter where they are. They don't always operate in an office like we do. We wanted our most popular supporting tools to be available wherever and whenever they are.

A business owner may want to sit in a café and work through some business planning with their accountant, mentor or advisor. Or they could be at home on the sofa with their partner doing a Healthcheck to see how well they are protecting their intellectual property. The app was built with this in mind, catering to a channel that is increasingly important to our audience and the way they operate.

What does it do?

The Mobile Business Toolbox is an all-encompassing iPad application that provides SMEs with some handy exercises and templates to help them start, manage and grow their business. The app is split into four sections: Healthchecks, Templates, Videos and News.

Healthchecks are quizzes which allow a business owner to quickly run through a topic to find out where they are with different areas of their business. On completion of the healthcheck, an action plan detailing what needs to be done is produced. This can be emailed or printed directly from the app.

There are eight templates included in the app. These range from a simple business plan, through to templates for competitor research and personal development plans. Once the template has been completed, the user is able to print or download their information.

There are a range of video case studies and a section with the latest news from across government, detailing any changes which will affect small businesses.

What sort of feedback have you had?

The app has now been downloaded over 3,500 times. It has been featured as "app of the day" on an online Florida news channel and ranked in the top 5 iPad apps for business in NZ in its first month.

Whenever we or others run a feature on the app, one of the most consistent pieces of feedback we get is: "When are you doing an Android version?" At the moment we have some important projects prioritised to deliver in the next six months that tackle those key pain points around compliance and employment, both of which are potential candidates for also being included in the app.

How big a project was it, time wise, to put together?

This was Business.govt.nz's first toe in the water, in terms of starting to service the needs of our customers in the mobile channel and we believe the first mobile app of the Ministry of Economic Development (now MBIE) at the time. We spent a little bit of time initially figuring out how things should come together, for example, although all the resources to be included were already on the website, we knew we needed to think about our approach to suit the iPad environment so they were fit for purpose.

Next week: New Zealand has a vast number of one man/woman bands - people happiest working on their own, doing what they do best - piano tuners, software developers, electricians, plumbers, artists. They don't have staff to hand over to during the year so they tend to soldier on for the greater part of it without a break. Most of them at this time are counting down the days to the summer holiday when they get to relax for a change. Tell me your stories, how do you cope with up to a month of no invoices coming in?