Wanting to be their own boss is the main reason Kiwis quit their day jobs and start their own business, according to a new survey.

More than half of the New Zealand business owners surveyed by accounting software maker Xero said wanting to be in charge was why they started their own company.

The hope for a better lifestyle and more freedom was why 48 per cent of Kiwis in the survey started a new venture, while 33 per cent wanted to earn more money.

The study, which surveyed 340 small firms across New Zealand and Australia, also revealed 6 per cent of respondents started their own business because of problems finding full-time work due to language, age, disability, and skill barriers.

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"It's great to see that entrepreneurial spirit alive in New Zealanders, especially when it helps to overcome employment obstacles and barriers," said Xero's NZ managing director Anna Curzon.

Curzon said it was easier than ever to start a business with the tools, software, and support readily available.

"Small businesses are so important to the New Zealand economy, making up more than 97 per cent of all businesses," she said.

Government statistics from last year recorded a total of 502,170 small businesses operating. They contribute around a quarter of the country's total gross domestic product.

Xero said the study highlights the hardworking nature of NZ small business owners, with more than 80 per cent of revealing that they go above and beyond for customers.

Sixty-three per cent of those surveyed said they actively had meetings outside of business hours, 57 per cent said they threw in freebies or add-ons to win customer loyalty and 61 per cent said they often worked on the business in their own time.

Small businesses are so important to the New Zealand economy, making up more than 97 per cent of all businesses.

"Going that extra mile for customers is a key part of why New Zealand small businesses are thriving," said Curzon.

"The traits of all successful small businesses are persistence, hard-work, and commitment, which these New Zealand small business owners clearly know a thing or two about."

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The study found one-third of small businesses believed they were successful from day one of operating, and a further 41 per cent thought they had achieved success within the first year.

On the other hand, 28 per cent of Australian small businesses said they were successful from day one, and 38 per cent within the first year.

Why people started or bought a business

• 57% wanted to be their own boss
• 48% hoped for more freedom and a better lifestyle
• 33% wanted to make more money
• 6% said they were having trouble finding full-time work