Statistics and Surveys

by Simon Lord

last updated 15/10/2016

Number of businesses owned by women skyrockets

by Simon Lord

last updated 15/10/2016

October 2016 - More women than ever are owning and operating businesses in New Zealand, with strong performance results across the country
CLICK TO ENLARGE Here at Franchise New Zealand we celebrate everyone's success. Recently, though, we came across a remarkable poster in a private collection showing that this wasn't always the case... we thought this was a joke at first but no, Te Papa co

The latest MYOB Women in Business Survey reveals that women now make up 44 percent of small-to-medium business (SME) owners, up from 30 percent in 2012.

‘It is really positive to see so many great women-owned businesses doing such great things in our economy,’ says Ingrid Cronin-Knight, MYOB Head of SME.

‘The number of women in business is really starting to climb. We’re seeing a lot more women bringing dynamic and innovative new products and services to market.

The findings of the report were released to mark the Women of Influence Forum and Awards, which both celebrate the successes of women in New Zealand.

When asked what the main reasons were for starting their business, respondents said:

To control their own destiny                                       34%
Because they are passionate about what they do     33%
Flexibility                                                                     30%
Lifestyle change                                                         18%
Investment strategy                                                    16%
Hobby                                                                         12%

Growing confidence

Women business owners reported significant gains in revenue growth in the last year, with 38 percent reporting an increase in revenue in the year to date, up eight percentage points on the September 2015 Monitor.

While currently performing strongly, women have even higher expectations for future short-term economic improvement. The monitor shows 40 percent of women at the helm of local businesses expect the domestic economy to improve within the 12 months to September 2017, just below the SME average of 42 percent.

Ms Cronin-Knight says the economic confidence of women, reported in the survey, is a crucial measure.

‘It has become apparent over the five years of the survey that the projections we get from women, both in terms of revenue growth and the overall economy, have tracked more closely to the actual results we can expect to see,’ she says.

‘So, based on the bellwether judgment of local women in business, we can be confident that SMEs will see solid growth in the next 12 months.’

Women in franchising

Although the MYOB survey didn’t look at franchsing in particular, it’s worth noting that the 2010 Franchising New Zealand survey found that almost half of all franchise units are owned together with a spouse or partner, rather than by a male sole owner (29%) or a female sole owner (13%).  Franchises are often well-suited to joint ownership, but there are also significant examples of women running franchised businesses solo – such as Ivy Joe, the record-holding three-times Supreme Franchisee of the Year (Ivy shares her lesson in this article)  In fact, women have won the top franchisee title in the New Zealand Franchise Awards 7 times in 21 years, and husband-and-wife teams a further 11 times.

For a glimpse into the life of a new solo woman franchisee, read Mary Lambie’s frank and funny account of her first Subway franchise from a few years ago.

Women are also strongly represented among the ranks of franchisors, with sKids being perhaps the most notable example of a locally-developed franchise that has now gone international, led by the dynamic Dawn Engelbrecht.

Some of the women who have found success in franchising: Ivy Joe, Mary Lambie, Karleen Hennessey, Angela Ferguson

Women motivated by work/life balance

As Mary’s story shows, finding a healthy work/life balance while running a business can be a challenge. However,the MYOB survey suggests this appears to be improving across the board, with women marginally more satisfied than men (72 percent compared to 71 percent).

‘Women do have added pressures including managing their personal, family and work priorities which can be stressful,’ Ms Cronin-Knight says.

‘However, women are clearly taking the initiative to create a positive work/life balance, which is heartening to see. The percentage of female business owners satisfied with the balance between their personal and professional life has increased 8 percent in the past 12 months, from 64 percent in November 2015 to 72 percent today.

‘Based on this data, we’re seeing an increased level of participation from women in business ownership. Not only is this great news for the economy, it’s also something that New Zealand should be proud of. We can only hope these numbers continue to increase over years to come and to do so we need to ensure women feel supported by the Government and the business sector.’

Christchurch women lead the way

When it comes to revenue performance, Christchurch-based businesses lead the way with 39 percent reporting an increase in annual revenue, followed by Auckland at 37 percent and Wellington at 34 percent.

This is well ahead of the SME average in Christchurch, where 31 percent reported growth over the last year and a substantial increase from this time last year, when only 21 percent of Christchurch-based female-led businesses reported an increase in revenue from the previous 12 months.

‘This is such a contrast from our last report, but likely due to the sustained effect of the Canterbury rebuild,’ says Ms Cronin-Knight.

‘Things are really looking up in Christchurch with 40 percent of businesses predicting revenue will increase yet again over the next 12 months. The same can also be said for Auckland and Wellington, with well over a third (44 percent and 39 percent respectively) optimistic about the year ahead.

‘It’s great to see women achieving so much for the New Zealand economy and it’s exciting that they’re positioning themselves in such a way that they can take advantage of future opportunities and growth in the local market.’

Key pressures on business

Overall, cashflow appears to be the primary concern for female business operators in New Zealand. Twenty-three percent of women highlighted it was an extreme concern, compared to an average of 20 percent. Key pressures women see affecting their businesses in the next 12 months also include late payments from customers and competitive activity (both 20 percent) as well as fuel prices, price margins and profit and interest rate (all 18 percent).

New Zealand women in business are taking a more conservative approach to hiring in the year ahead. Twelve percent of female business owners plan to increase the number of staff they employ, on par with the SME average. They also look to remain careful when it comes to increasing pay rates of staff, with 19 percent planning to increase the amount they pay their employees, compared to 22 percent of all businesses.

The cost of introducing new technology (24 percent) and not having enough time (18 percent) are the two key barriers when it comes to innovating their business, according to the women surveyed in the Monitor.

On average, 23 percent of all businesses surveyed felt that innovation was not necessary at this point in time; however Auckland-based business owner Sharon Davies says it’s something all business owners should be thinking about.

Founding director of Talent Propeller, a recruitment solutions business, Sharon says thinking ahead is crucial.

‘Innovation is important for many reasons, but above all it’s imperative in order to evolve. You must be adapting and evolving your business, whether it’s innovating processes or thinking about what product offerings you can take to market.’

About the MYOB Business Monitor

The MYOB Business Monitor is a national survey of 1,000+ New Zealand small and medium business owners and managers, from sole traders to mid-sized companies, representing the major industry sectors. It has run since 2009, commissioned to independent market research firm Colmar Brunton.

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