Kiwi entrepreneurs are feeling optimistic for the future despite being aware of the headwinds and operating challenges in store for the rest of the year, according to a new report.
The latest edition of the Entrepreneur Organisation (EO)'s State of Kiwi Entrepreneurship Report found that confidence for growth and trading prospects were largely mixed, with just 18 per cent of business owners "very confident" about opportunities for the rest of the year, and 27 per cent "somewhat confident".
A further 18 per cent said they were "very under confident", 24 per cent "somewhat under confident" and 12 per cent neutral in two minds about earning prospects.
Sentiment in the report outlined that there was widespread realisation that some sectors would thrive in the short to medium term while others would continue to struggle.
In December, New Zealand moved away from alert levels to the Covid-19 Protection Framework, which the Government said aimed to bring more flexibility for businesses.
The report, however, found that 72 per cent of entrepreneurs said they believed the Covid Protection Framework had a negative impact on their business, while 91 per cent said they felt that the framework has had a negative impact on Kiwi business since its introduction.
Of entrepreneurs surveyed, 53 per cent of operators reported no drop in revenue since the introduction of the framework, while almost 47 per cent reported a drop in revenue.
The report found that entrepreneurs were optimistic about opportunities even despite challenging times. Most were feeling positive, with 56 per cent of respondents rating their wellbeing at the upper end of the scale, between 7 and 10 - 10 being the ideal.
The report outlined that "numerous respondents were grateful for the continued health of their businesses, despite the lack of future planning and loss of growth".
As hospitality veteran Shawn Pope, founder and co-owner of Melba Group - the owner of Auckland cafe chain Melba, puts it, the past two years have been "extremely challenging, stressful, but there have been pockets of positivity."
Pope and his wife Michelle set up Melba 16 years ago. Despite the past two years being "tough", the hospitality business is in expansion mode.
Pope purchased a coffee roastery during lockdown and will later this year launch his direct to consumer brand Bullet Espresso, an online coffee subscription service. Melba will also open its ninth store, in Karaka, next month.
The Popes are like thousands of Kiwi businesses that have survived through the worst of pandemic disruption in the past two years and now face inflationary pressures and supply chain issues as their biggest barriers to trade.
Pope said while restrictions had eased and the health threat of Covid had somewhat subsided, economic knock-on effects of the pandemic were soon to be realised.
"I'm not blind to the current trading conditions that we're looking at. We've still got people that are worried about Covid, we've still got inflationary pressures, supply chain issues, we've had two years of living a certain way and now to come back to some new normal can be challenging," Pope told the Herald.
"We're under no illusions that the next 12 months are [not] going to be challenging."
Pope said he believed New Zealanders were good at putting their heads down and working through challenges, which is why he believed so many businesses had been able to survive the initial disruptions through lockdowns and alert level changes.
"We have a can-do attitude in New Zealand that because we are distant [geographically], a beautiful island in the South Pacific, that has its challenges but that actually breeds opportunity. If you want to be successful in New Zealand you can do it."
Kimberley Ramsey, founder of video tech start-up Vidzing, which launched during lockdown, said Covid-19 had presented businesses with opportunities to be innovative, think outside of the box and utilise online and virtual ways of operating.
"A lot of opportunities have come out of Covid with the way we've shifted to more of a hybrid working environment," said Ramsey.
Pivoting and adopting digital tools was about survival at first, and without Covid, the present rate of adoption would likely have been five to 10 years away, she said.
"It is inspiring to see all the different technologies that are happening and the way people are pivoting in their businesses. I think that is motivating and it gives opportunities - there's enough business out there for everybody and if someone else is doing something in a different way it just shows you that it is possible."
Ramsey too believes the rest of the year will be difficult for most businesses, but she said she still believed there was lots of opportunity to tap into in hard times and economic downturns.
She believed findings from the latest EO report were more optimistic than expected, and she was surprised at how well businesses had performed in the past two years.
NZ ranks second place among world for women entrepreneurs
A report by Mastercard has found New Zealand to be a leader in the world for its support available for women entrepreneurs and business owners.
According to the Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs, which looks at socioeconomic factors that nurture or hinder the ability of women to progress and thrive in the business world, New Zealand ranks second to the United States only, and ahead of Canada by one spot. Sixty-five economies were analysed.
The index ranks and scores each economy according to its performance over the past year to provide an overall assessment of how women are faring in business, financial, education, and workplace settings compared to their male counterparts and their peers globally.
According to the index, women in New Zealand "continue to make firm strides in business", propelled by "supporting entrepreneurial conditions" and "quality of governance".
New Zealand also ranks in seventh place among global peers for the amount of women's business ownership.