Survey reveals four out of five owners feel isolated.

New Zealand's small and medium-sized companies are lacking the support they need to grow, according to a survey of 700 business owners.

Not-for-profit organisation Business Mentors is calling for more to be done to bolster the 515,000 SMEs in New Zealand.

Researched outlined in "The State of SME" report reveals four out of five owners of small businesses feel isolated, and a third lack the knowledge and support needed to grow.

Sixty-one per cent of business owners had not yet contemplated retirement, 38 per cent were concerned they would never be in a position to do so and 34 per cent said planning was an area they would like to improve on.


Business Mentors general manager Lisa Ford said the findings suggested small business owners needed support and advice.

"By providing the relevant support, and upskilling business owners, we will provide them with the tools to grow their business and in turn grow the economy."

Lack of retirement planning was an area of concern, she said.

"Exit plans, or retirement strategies, are a crucial part of a business plan. As the baby-boomer generation heads towards retirement, we are expecting to see an uptake in the number of SME owners looking for guidance on how to exit their business."

Social media was a topic of interest, with 91 per cent of business mentors saying more should be done to help business owners benefit from this.

Lisa Ford says a retirement strategy is a crucial part of a business plan. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Lisa Ford says a retirement strategy is a crucial part of a business plan. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Forty per cent of business owners said not knowing how to use social media was their biggest digital issue and 30 per cent of baby-boomer owners said they lacked sufficient knowledge to implement a social media strategy.

Business mentor and co-owner of Queenstown-based Revolution Tours Kate Belcher said social media marketing was crucial to her business.

"Spending time developing a sound social media plan has allowed us to do this and reach people never before possible."

In ASB's quarterly economic forecast, chief economist Nick Tuffley said small businesses needed to focus on productivity gains following the recent change in Government.

"Change brings a little bit of uncertainty so we may see that some businesses are a little bit cautious in the near term and put off making decisions until they get a little bit more certainty about the environment that they are facing."

SMEs could expect to see changes to migration, wages and housing in the near future, with the potential for skill shortages, he said.

"On the wage front, we are going to see the minimum wage increase a little bit faster than it has in recent years," Tuffley said.

"Businesses may find that their wage bill is going up a bit faster than it otherwise would have, particularly if they're employing a relatively high share of low-skilled labour."

Tuffley said that it was important for small companies to focus on the things they could control.