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What are small business owners experiencing at the moment?

Xero New Zealand Country Manager

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Due to inflation, we’ve seen the rising cost of living impact small business sales as households tighten the purse strings on discretionary spending.

Simultaneously, there are growing expectations for salaries as the local labour market tightens and wages growth reaches record levels.

For Bay of Plenty small business owners feeling the pressure, you’re not alone, and there are really clear steps you can take to navigate the current economic climate.

New findings in the Changing world of work report released at Xerocon in September shone a light on the plight of small business owners in Aotearoa, with a third (36%) saying that managing employee processes is negatively impacting their mental health.

The impact of inflation on costs and services was front of mind with 65 percent of employers saying the current climate was a major cause of stress – especially with Aotearoa’s inflation hitting a 30 year high of 7.3 percent in July this year.

This is compounding with labour shortages as 43 percent of small business employers see talent shortages as the biggest challenge facing them.

Employers are expecting to pay top dollar to attract employees, with the research showing a third of employers believe a rise in salary expectations (37%) and staffing costs (34%) will be among their biggest challenges.

So what can small business owners do to navigate the future without experiencing burnout themselves?

Findings from the report show that small business employers in Aotearoa are planning to hire three staff members on average over the next 12 months.

In order to attract and retain talent, almost a quarter of employers have recently invested or are planning to invest in higher pay across all staff (23%) and empower employees by improving the overall workplace technology experience (23%).

Businesses that continue to ignore digital tools risk being left behind.

We all must find ways to work smarter, not harder – using technology to automate and make admin tasks more efficient.

We need to ensure every hour spent working is doing something only a human can do, especially considering the ongoing labour shortage.

With the numerous challenges around us at the moment, this is something small businesses can do right now to make things a little easier.

This doesn’t have to revolutionise how you do business – rather pick one or two pain points and talk to your accountant / bookkeeper to see if there are digital tools or apps out there to make things a little easier.

Together we can help small businesses recover and thrive long-term, as well as build more resilience, diversity and depth into the economy.

And if you need support now?

The Xero Assistance Programme provides free and confidential wellbeing support to more than one million New Zealand small business owners, their employees and families.

If you’re a Xero subscriber, you and your employees have access to face-to-face, telephone, live chat and online counselling to address specific problems.

To get started, email the Xero team at xap@xero.com for next steps.

Related: What’s the key to improving SME productivity?

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Bridget Snelling
Bridget Snelling
Xero New Zealand Country Manager

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