It feels almost counterintuitive to set up a business right after a global pandemic and looming recession but some experts say now is actually a great time. Journalist Stephanie Arthur-Worsop finds out why and talks to a local business that has taken that leap of faith.
Low interest rates, abundant commercial space and landlords willing to negotiate are just some of the factors that could play in the favour of those looking to establish their business now.
Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bryce Heard said there were some good reasons to set up a business now.
"At the cost-end, there are certainly reasons why it's a good idea; there's plenty of space available, plenty of low interest money around. The risk is at the market-end and making sure you have a product that is in demand.
"When you're starting out you need to have that market-end tied up. Knowing what you're selling, for how much and where it fits in. Business planning is always important and it's one of the things the chamber can help with."
Heard said he suspected the current economic climate would continue for a while.
"If you are clever enough to spot the opportunities, they will be there. There is always a silver lining in the black cloud."
Professionals commercial leasing and sales agent Nadia Christensen has been fielding a lot more inquiries since lockdown.
"There have not a lot of people racing to set up retail but there are businesses such as salons, galleries, cafes looking for space.
"People are looking to create jobs for themselves and are thinking outside the box as to how to do that."
Christensen said she believed there would be a resurgence in CBD business.
"There is still buoyancy out there and people are looking at their options. Landlords are also likely to be more flexible and willing to negotiate."
Vishal Sharma is one local who took a bad situation and turned it into a new business venture.
When Sharma was made redundant from his tourism-based job due to Covid-19, he decided to establish a small business of his own which would allow him to continue promoting Rotorua as a tourist destination, while still putting food on the table for his family.
Primarily, Sharma will be producing and distributing mini brochures within and outside the region but he will also be running a social media campaign with his I Love Rotorua sign to gain exposure.
Sharma is also working on the third edition of his coffee table book which will contain new information about the city and what it offers.
"I am so passionate about Māori culture and New Zealand culture and I want Rotorua to become the number one destination in the world.
"I also want people to see what I've done and realise there are still opportunities within the tourism industry. I have planned this small business which doesn't require a big investment and it keeps me in the same industry.
"This will not last forever so if you have lost your job, don't lose hope."
"Now was the time"
After 45 years of working, Rotorua's Pam Vincent is ready for a little adventure.
That's why she's taken the "leap into the dark" by setting up an art gallery and studio in the CBD.
"My job was coming to a natural end and I had been toying with the idea of doing this for a year so it's been carefully thought out.
"In January my son-in-law Sarj (Art by Sarj) and myself (Pam Vincent Photography) leased a store for three weeks for a pop-up shop and we got so much positive feedback, people saying it was a pity we weren't here all the time and artists wanting us to sell on their behalf, so that was really the catalyst for us looking for something more permanent."
Vincent said a week after the lease was signed, the country went into lockdown.
"It turned out to be a blessing because what lockdown gave us was time to be able to plan everything out more thoroughly."
The other benefit of setting up now was landlords were more willing to negotiate, she said.
"We had negotiating power all the way. Most people take on retail leases for a minimum of three years but we weren't comfortable doing that and the landlord was happy to be flexible.
"I am happy with the amount we paid for the lease and we were able to include a clause due to the uncertainty of Covid that we wouldn't be charged until our doors opened."
The gallery, called Art United - Te Paihere Mahi Toi, is scheduled to open in the next couple of weeks and will offer a constant display of Art by Sarj and a permanently set up photo studio for portraits and pets, as well as space for young, local artists to get exposure.
"Sarj had an exhibition in April last year and it was a booming success but it can be hard for artists to secure those exhibitions, with often a long waiting period.
"What we want to do with this gallery is sell on the artists' behalf and turn it over all the time to keep it fresh and interesting."
Vincent has offered space on set days to a man who plays African drums and has even considered refurbishing an old piano to go outside the gallery.
"I have lots of ideas, it will be a gallery with a difference."