The lazy Kiwi's guide to goal-setting for 2018


What is your business going to achieve this year? You know you should set goals and follow them through. Ideally, you’re supposed to set SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. But that can feel like an onerous task all on its own – one that keeps slipping to the bottom of the to-do list. Having several major goals can also be daunting; where do you start? If you can’t get started, you’ll never get finished.

Sometimes, you can set a really simple goal that will still be inspiring. We believe that most Kiwi business owners don’t set annual goals beyond their usual monthly KPIs, and plenty don’t set those. If you fall into that category, what about a mini goal? We think every Kiwi business owner can set a mini goal that can help you stay on track, keep focused and improve your performance in 2018.

Here are some of the simple goals our clients have set that they’ve told us have actually worked for them:

  • "Have a record month this year” – the client who set this goal ultimately had two months in 2017 that were 10% better than any single month she’d had in 2016.
  • “Get rid of that problem customer” – sounds negative, we know, but we’ve recently had a client who had been dealing with a nightmare customer for years, afraid to give up the regular sales. But as soon as the customer was gone, the client was so much less stressed out that he immediately made up the missing profits in new work. And he continues to feel less stressed because that difficult customer isn’t his problem any more.
  • “Find a cheaper/easier/faster way to do that annoying job” – this can be technology, outsourcing or just being more efficient. One of our clients decided in 2016, with a hint from us, that he was finally ditching paper invoices. Straight onto Xero, emailed invoices, his customers are happy and he’s saving his business at least $200 each month.
  • “Get the right advice” – so many small New Zealand businesses are run by people who seem allergic to getting in an expert on tricky topics. Last year one big client employed a freelance technical writer to work on their bids and it was both cheaper and easier than they could have imagined. They got more work, took a load of stress off their people and streamlined their whole bid-writing process. Win.

Don’t forget that a goal is usually just a tool to point you in the right direction. There are other ways to do that, too, including talking to one of the team at SME to figure out what’s important in your business – and your life.

What will change for small businesses under Labour?

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What will change for small businesses under Labour?

What will the new government mean for small businesses in New Zealand? Here are some of the proposed changes and how they might have an impact on your small business:

The minimum wage is going up

The current minimum wage is $15.75 an hour for adults – that’s been forecast to go up to $16.50. This may increase your costs. NZ First has a policy that would increase minimum wage to $20 gradually over the next three years. Clients are already asking us to analyse how this will impact their profits.

New workplace relations laws

Labour plans to replace what they call National’s “fire at will” policy with “fair trial policies”. (Although I don’t know how many employers would describe the current situation as a “fire at will” environment.) Labour plans to encourage the living wage, tweak the Equal Pay Act and introduce fair pay agreements – more here.

Paid parental leave is increasing

Currently at 18 weeks, Jacinda Ardern has promised to raise paid parental leave to 26 weeks. This is great for parents, although it can affect productivity for employers.

Immigration numbers are tightening up

If your business struggles to find local workers and relies on immigrants, you could find you have a smaller pool of people when it comes to employment. This is particularly common in hospitality and seasonal work. If you’re going to need international workers soon, move quickly before these changes are put in place.

Secondary tax will be eliminated

Labour’s tax policy includes getting rid of secondary tax, which helps prevent people with two jobs being overtaxed during the year. If you and/or your employees have two jobs (and 75,000 Kiwis do), this is going to make life simpler and reduce accounting costs.

 Apprenticeships for the unemployed

If you need an apprentice, it could soon be easier. The ‘Dole for Apprenticeship’ scheme will subsidise employers who are willing to take on a full-time apprentice who is currently unemployed.

Tax credits for R & D

Undertaking research and development? You could get a tax credit at 12.5%. Could be a super idea.

A young entrepreneur policy

Labour’s Young Entrepreneurs Plan would let any Kiwi aged 18 to 23 apply for up to $20,000 to start a new business with a great idea.

A new tourism and infrastructure fund

A $75 million fund has been promised, which will pay for projects to “improve the experience of visitors to New Zealand and enhance our natural environment”. If your business relies on tourists, this could be good new for you.

That’s a taster of what we’re likely to see over the new few years – depending on your business, you may need to plan for changes. We can help with most of changes, and we’ve already started looking at the impact they will have on a range of companies, so give us a call if you have any questions.

Finding funding for your small business


Has your business reached the point where you need extra funding? It could be that you’re launching a new product, expanding your market overseas, taking on new staff members or buying more equipment. To get over the immediate hurdle and make that jump to the next level, you need to find some money. There are lots of different ways to fund your small business’s growth, including:

  • A loan from the bank, probably the most common type of funding
  • Angel investors
  • Peer-to-peer lending
  • Private equity investment or venture capital  
  • Grants from an organisation like your Regional Business Partner Network
  • Incubators and accelerators like those offered by Callaghan Innovation
  • A loan or gift from friends or family (common, but not recommended)
  • Crowdfunding
  • Shark Tank or Dragon’s Den – or New Zealand’s own Supersize SME (like the name)

All these options have different pros and cons, but they all have one thing in common: they want to know more about your business and that includes clear financial data. You might pitch them all slightly differently, but every one of these avenues will need the right set of financials targeted to help them see a path to a mutually successful loan, grant or investment. You need to set out a compelling business case and that will rely heavily on financial and sales data, plus research into your market.

Not only can your virtual CFO provide you with the right information to show a prospective lender how good you look, but we can also help you talk to various lenders and agencies to present your business in the best financial light. In addition, sometimes your virtual CFO will be able to find funding options for you. A great CFO will help to forge the connections you need to find the money for growth. (It’s also helpful to have someone on your side when seeking funding to avoid being caught out by one of New Zealand’s surprisingly prevalent grant scams.)

If your business is aiming to make that jump to the next level, you probably don’t want to take on a full-time CFO. But a virtual CFO can step in and help out with a regular financial check-in as well as case by case when you’re presenting your business to a prospective investor. If that sounds like it could be useful, give us a call and we can help. Let us shine a spotlight on your business success – and find the funding you need to take that leap.

Does the bank love your business?

When you want to grow, you need capital. Most small businesses require cash to get started, and often that comes in the form of a loan. It might be that you need to buy plant, cover employee salaries or cashflow the business until it reaches a sustainable size. A business loan can help with any of those scenarios.


But getting a business loan can be a labour-intensive and sometimes frustrating process. Banks want to lend money, but they need to be persuaded. And you don’t only want to be approved for a loan, you want to be approved for the right amount and on the right terms.

So how can you make this process run more smoothly? If you had a CFO, that person would prepare statements and cashflow forecasts, as well as working on the financial side of your business development plan, determining how much money you need and how much debt you can comfortably service. Small and medium-sized Kiwi businesses rarely have CFOs, but a virtual CFO can do all those jobs for you when you need a business loan.

We’ll also help you deal with the bank’s officials, attending meetings and being on your side in negotiations. We can provide all the supporting material that quickly demonstrates the strength and potential of your business. As your virtual CFO, we can:

  • Create financial projections
  • Show current performance
  • Summarise the business’s financial position
  • Demonstrate how the debt will generate growth
  • Predict potential financial questions the bank may have
  • Make a case for the loan from a financial perspective

In addition to these services, a great virtual CFO can help you investigate your various borrowing options. We can help you research the different banks, both large and small, all of which offer business lending. There are also other lending options to consider, like peer-to-peer, angel or private equity investment. Are there better interest rates or preferable terms available? Are you prepared to sell down some of your shareholding? And of course, we’ll put together a schedule that will show you the payment amounts and differences between the options, so you can compare apples with apples. Finally, are there grants or subsidies your business is entitled to? Our virtual CFO service can put together the information required to apply for one of these funds.

Don’t let a lack of capital hamstring a brilliant business. The right documentation and presentation will help the bank love your business. That can give you the funds you need to grow it to the next level.


Keep Performing Intelligently: KPIs

KPI’s are key performance indicators – the important ways you measure how well your business is going. You might be surprised at how many different types of KPI’s can apply in various industries, including the obvious ones, like:

  • Profit/loss
  • Sales
  • Margins
  • Number of new customers
  • Available cash

There are also customer-specific KPI’s:

  • Customer lifetime value
  • Customer acquisition cost
  • Customer retention
  • Customer satisfaction

There are KPI’s for your employees:

  • Employee turnover rate
  • Employee satisfaction
  • Employee productivity

And KPI’s that might relate to your processes:

  • Returns, complaints or faulty goods
  • Conversion rate for queries into sales
  • Efficiency measures

In addition to all these metrics, your industry or business might have its own specific targets and ways of measuring success. If this all sounds confusing, it certainly can be, and very few Kiwi small business owners have a solid grasp on how to develop and use KPI’s successfully. The good news is that the size of your business doesn’t determine the number of KPI’s that are required to efficiently run it.  There may just be one or two measurements that will help you keep a handle on how your company is performing every week, and the monitoring of these will assist your company to grow and increase profits.

But even choosing one or two KPI’s can be tricky, because you’ve got to pick the right ones and know what to look for once you’re getting the data. To help you set KPI’s for your business and develop realistic targets, you may find you need some help. A virtual CFO can step in and look at your business to help you identify, measure and establish key performance indicators that will quickly demonstrate your company’s performance.

A great virtual CFO can meet up with you to talk to you about what success looks like in your business and how to quantify that success. Then you’ll know when the company is heading off course and rapidly be able to correct its direction.

Your virtual CFO can also work out what you’re learning from all your data. Many companies have tools to gather masses of data, only to have it sitting unread and unused, month after month. A virtual CFO can take that data and sift through it to pull out the trends and information you need to help your business grow and thrive.

Don’t struggle through mountains of numbers on your own trying to figure out what you need to measure and what your targets should be. A virtual CFO can help you solve those problems in just a few short meetings. Give us a call and find out how a virtual CFO can help you guide your business toward success and prosperity.