For many, a new year signals the start of a fresh beginning allowing goals and motivation to be reset. We typically try to leave the downsides of the prior year in the past and reassess our aspirations for the year to come. However, given the year that was 2020 and the ongoing impact of Covid-19, both locally and globally, there are various aspects of 2020 which have inevitably carried into 2021. Whilst some of these lingering effects prove to be challenging, they are not necessarily all negative.

2020 was undoubtedly a time of great uncertainty for NZ businesses. However, it was also a year in which there was a notable increase in the number of new businesses registering with the Companies Office. Data shows that at the end of December, there were 669,000 companies on record, with 58,000 registered during the year; up from 49,000 during the prior year. It is thought that the increase can in part be put down to Covid-19 related redundancies and the transformation of “side hustles” into viable businesses – something that Christchurch led project, Start Me Up is backing.

Launched earlier this year, Start Me Up is looking for business ideas from Christchurch, Ashburton and Selwyn residents whose employment was adversely impacted by Covid-19. Run in conjunction with Christchurch NZ and the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), the two-part program aims to teach budding entrepreneurs how to start their own business. The first part of the program is a five-week online course designed to teach the fundamentals of building a successful business. The second part of the program offers 25 successful applicants the chance to further develop their business idea through in-person workshops with mentors. To be eligible to apply, applicants must currently be unemployed and receiving a benefit from MSD.

The Government also recently announced the launch of its Small Business Digital Boost program, which seeks to support small NZ business owners to realise the potential of digitising their business. The partnership between the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), The Mind Lab and Indigo will provide government-funded digital skills training and support. In the age of the internet (and Covid-19), the ability to successfully utilise digital tools offers small businesses the opportunity to better compete in today’s economic environment. The program is the first of several that will be rolled out as part of the Government’s vision for New Zealand to become a “thriving digital nation”.

A shake up in the job market also looks likely with new findings revealed by Horizon Research indicating that nearly 385,000 adults will look to change their job in the coming year.

Although it is not clear if or how many of these will look to pursue their own business ideas, the support for entrepreneurs looks stronger than ever. If there was a time for a New Year’s resolution and change, maybe this is it.