Entrepreneurs in New Zealand

I read an interesting article last weekend in Inc. Magazine. The article is called The Trouble With Lifestyle Entrepreneurs and it talks about how the New Zealand government is trying to encourage people to start and grow their businesses.

From the article:

According to a recent study, 14.7% of New Zealand’s adult population is involved in launching a business, a level that exceeds even that of the U.S., where the measure is 11.3%.

Despite its many businesses, however, New Zealand has been falling far behind other developed countries in terms of its standard of living. The problem is that many of these lifestyle entrepreneurs work just enough to buy a second home and a boat and to send their kids to school; for the lucky ones that achieve those things, the incentive to keep enhancing their personal fortune seems to vanish. Experts say that an annual income that is the equivalent of just $70,000 in the U.S. is considered the pinnacle of economic achievement in New Zealand. As a result, few businesses have American-style expansion plans. By one count, the entire country, with a population of four million, has just 240 businesses that employ more than 500 workers.

The writer points out that the entire country is talking about this in the same way Social Security is a national topic here in the U.S. Can you imagine?

Since 1999, Prime Minister Helen Clark has been trying to push entrepreneurs in her country to expand. Her efforts are nearly as much a part of the national discussion in New Zealand as the efforts to fix Social Security and cut health care costs are in the U.S.

It’s an interesting topic and something I didn’t know about New Zealand.

5 responses to “Entrepreneurs in New Zealand”

  1. Thanks for the article.

    We’ve got a similiar issue in South Africa, in that the Gov. is trying to get more and more people to start businesses. I’m not sure what the stats are, but it would be interesting to find them out…

  2. That’s really interesting. Definately something going on. I think I heard a statistic once that said a large proportion of the US workforce works for or in small businesses. Of course, the US Govt. probably defines a small business as under 500 people.

  3. I can reassure you guys,

    that with a general election coming up in 7 weeks (the closest race in years), the entire country isn’t talking about this topic.

    Good points though. Kiwis do have different goals both culturally and economically for their business. Of course they wish to be successful, but many choose to live in parts of the country where lifestyle is more important than the pursuit of the dollar. For instance I run my small design business from Dunedin (pop 125.000), not the main city Auckland (pop 1.5m), nor the capital Wellington (pop 350.000). The reasons are purely and simply lifestyle, the cost of living in this beautiful harbour city are less than half that of the main centres, with all of the trappings of the big smoke.

    I know this isn’t a purely Kiwi thing, but in this day in age of ecommerce and ecommunication, this lifestyle while running a business option has been made more accessible.

    But Kiwis being a land of small businesses (average length of new business lifespan is 3 years), we are innovative and driven, if not willing / ready / or wanting to take on the world.

  4. Hi Paul – Wow! I don’t follow politics in NZ but I can relate. When we have an election down here I always wonder about the news that we didn’t even hear because of all of the noise.

    There’s a lot to be said for keeping your life simple, and even your business simple, as long as you make an income you’re happy with. Sometimes it’s easier and less stressful to keep it small.

    Thanks for commenting.

  5. Hey that article cause quite a stir in the office, so thanks for that.

    Phoenix, AZ eh, sorry we only got as far as Palm Springs in our Kiwi quest for desert (we don’t have such cool things here in NZ).

    But I have Phoenix on my wish list for our next US trip, after all I have gotta see the Suns play.

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