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Diving into digital, the challenge our entrepreneurs should be choosing this International Women’s Day

By Helen Lea, MYOB chief employee experience officer

After a year of overcoming and navigating challenges, it seems apt that this year for International Women’s Day, challenging the status quo and driving change is taking centre stage. 

Entrepreneurs and small business owners have been challenging norms and breaking the mould for centuries, and one of the joys of working at MYOB is that we get to see this in action – celebrating the highs and supporting them through the lows. Helping more businesses start, survive and succeed is why we exist and never before has this purpose been more important. 

It’s well-known that small businesses are the heart of the New Zealand economy. There are more than 500,000 small businesses operating in Aotearoa, and more than a third of these are female-led. 

Alongside purpose, passion is a powerful driver of action for entrepreneurs and this is no exception when it comes to why many Kiwi women make the choice to establish a business. In fact, our 2020 Business Monitor showed that more than a third of female business operators in New Zealand started their business because of their passion for what they do. 

Every day we hear success stories from female entrepreneurs who have channeled their passion into a successful business. Holly Bennett, a dynamic young woman whose passion for New Zealand politics came about after an experience working in the Beehive, is a great example of this. 

Taking the leap to create HSB Government Relations, Holly operates with the intention of giving New Zealand’s business community a seat at the political table. Her view, is that “if you know your purpose, productivity will always follow – even when you have no gas left in the tank, purpose will get you to the next pit lane.” 

Many of our certified partners are also entrepreneurs and business owners. MYOB 2020 New Zealand Certified Consultant of the Year, Jennie Kingma, evolved JK Business Systems into a limited liability business after 10 years operating as a sole trader. Jennie’s growth into business was driven by her desire to help clients with bookkeeping services and training to help them better manage their accounts.    

Helen Lea, MYOB chief employee experience officer

While it was following their passion and a drive to help others that led to the beginning of their businesses, we know that female entrepreneurs are just as focused now when it comes to the future of their enterprises. In our last MYOB Business Monitor, we saw that 43% had aspirations to grow their business over the next two years and just over a quarter believed there was nothing holding them back from developing their business. 

Though it’s fair to say most of us couldn’t have predicted how testing COVID-19 would be on our work, life, and mental health, the MYOB Tech Snapshot revealed the experience also tested how much female business operators were willing to embrace new ways of working to achieve their goals. 

In particular, technology was a key enabler in both stabilising and improving business performance across New Zealand and 60% of female-led businesses in New Zealand reported they had people working remotely during the first nationwide lockdown. 

Video calling, cloud storage and cloud applications were the most used tools to support and connect with staff working from home, while email, telephone and social media were the channels most used to communicate with their customers. 

While across the board, their male counterparts appeared to be more prevalent users of technology during the first COVID-19 lockdown of 2020, importantly, 55% of New Zealand’s female business operators agreed they were more likely to adopt new technology after their lockdown experience. 

The intention of this group to build on their experiences and increase the use of digital tools is not only is this critical to their own survival and growth – it’s pivotal to economic recovery. 

According to Deloitte, businesses that invest in digital adoption are not only 50% more likely to be growing revenue, they’re eight times more likely to be creating jobs and seven times more likely to be exporting. 

At a more micro level, our teams at MYOB see the wide-ranging benefits of technology every day and we understand the profound impact it can have on the smaller businesses willing to embrace it. There’s an opportunity to get paid faster, streamline processes to save time, reach more customers, innovate product offerings, and ultimately grow revenue. 

We’re truly passionate about the benefits of digital adoption, which is why we’re working alongside the Government and others in the private sector, to help shape important initiatives – like MBIE’s Digital Boost programme – which help facilitate access to digital tools, education and skills for New Zealand’s small businesses. 

Over a quarter of female small business operators are still hesitant to look into new technology to help their business. So, this International Women’s Day I’d like to challenge more women in business to ride this wave. Choose to embrace digital. Take hold of the opportunities this economic window currently presents.

Nobody knows better that in order to accelerate forward and break down barriers, sometimes you need to take a leap into the unknown and try something new. With plenty of organisations ready to offer support every step of the way, there’s no better time to do so than right now. 

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