This pic is courtesy of Xero, and is appropriately captioned ‘the money shot’.

The harsh reality of being a small business owner in New Zealand.

There’s a harsh reality to living in New Zealand as a business owner.

No, it’s not that we’re surrounded by sheep, or that we can’t say deck or six in a presentation without everyone laughing.

The problem us small business owners face, is that despite the fact that 97% of enterprises in New Zealand are small businesses, we are constrained by the size of our country and population when it comes to domestic growth.

The New Zealand Small Business Sector report of 2014 states that despite the fact there are ambitious goals in place to increase the number of companies exporting internationally before 2025, over 75% of firms within NZ have never generated international income.

Now, let’s think about this for a second. If I am the owner and founder of a small fashion label, I am a carpenter or I am a real estate agent, where do I even begin to raise awareness of my brand internationally? What’s my strategy? Who do I talk to?

I have no knowledge of international media, I am not sure whether people in other countries are remotely interested in my business and I don’t know anyone in my local industry who has tried to raise their profile internationally before, because no one has (75% remember?).

I’m poor on time, I don’t have the money to commission an international media agency to manage my international advertising and my resources are limited. So what do I do?

I start to build my brand online.

Building a successful online presence for your brand is future-proofing your business and your marketing strategy. Social media is giving Kiwis access to a global marketplace, and this is becoming an increasingly important space for the small business owner to play in. Not just in New Zealand but all over the world.

It’s one thing to pop a couple of Facebook posts up each month trying to get people to buy your stuff, or half-heartedly tweeting because you think you have to. It’s another thing altogether to work out where your audience is, how they use social media and then fit into their experience instead of taking away from it.

Social media is not expensive if you do it properly. It’s highly effective, highly targeted and gives you the ability to test products and get customer feedback organically. And once you know where to focus your efforts and you’ve got a plan in place, it’s not time consuming either.

If I can give you any piece of advice, from someone who works with small business owners on a daily basis and is one herself, it’s that the ROI of using social media is that your business will still exist in 5 years.

Don’t know where to begin? Let us help. If you do, then make sure you’ve begun. I honestly believe that social media and small business in New Zealand are the perfect fit. Like kiwis and sheep. Like decks and sunshine. Like six and eggs.

It’s the best way to ensure that your brand doesn’t hit the New Zealand ceiling, but you need to start now. Because it won’t be long before Australia or the USA gets too small too, and that’s when we want our Kiwi business owners to be ahead of the pack.

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