Number of businesses owned by women skyrockets

12 Oct 2016

More women than ever are owning and operating businesses in New Zealand, with strong performance results across the country, according to data released by MYOB.

The latest MYOB Women in Business Survey reveals that women now make up 44 per cent of small to medium business owners, up from 30 per cent in 2012.

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

“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, 34 per cent said to control their own destiny, 33 per cent said they started their own business because they are passionate about what they do, 30 per cent said flexibility, 18 per cent said lifestyle change, 16 per cent said it was an investment strategy and 12 per cent said it was a hobby.

When asked about the performance of their business, women owners reported significant gains in revenue growth in the last year, with 38 per cent 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 per cent 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 per cent.

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 motivated by work/life balance

Finding a healthy work/life balance while running a business appears to be improving across the board, with women marginally more satisfied than men (72 per cent compared to 71 per cent).

“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 ten-fold, from 16 per cent in 2014 to more than 70 per cent in 2016.

“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

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

This is well ahead of the SME average in Christchurch, where 31 per cent reported growth over the last year and a substantial increase from this time last year, when only 21 per cent 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 per cent 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 per cent and 39 per cent 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 per cent of women highlighted it was an extreme concern, compared to an average of 20 per cent. Key pressures women see affecting their businesses in the next 12 months also include late payments from customers and competitive activity (both 20 per cent) as well as fuel prices, price margins and profit and interest rate (all 18 per cent).


Employment opportunities limited

New Zealand women in business are taking a more conservative approach to hiring in the year ahead. Twelve per cent 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 per cent planning to increase the amount they pay their employees, compared to 22 per cent of all businesses.


Focus on innovation needed

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

On average, 23 per cent 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.”



For further comment or other information please contact:

Rebecca Huang, MYOB NZ Public Relations Consultant

P: 09 925 3505 / M: 021 1122 720/ E:

Gerard Blank, The Agency Communications Limited Director

P: 03 341 5841 / M: 0275 243 629 / E:


About MYOB

MYOB (ASX: MYO) is a leading cloud based business management solutions provider. It makes business life easier for approximately 1.2 million businesses across Australia and New Zealand by simplifying accounting, payroll, tax, practice management, CRM, websites, job costing, inventory and more. MYOB provides ongoing support via many client service channels including a network of over 40,000 accountants, bookkeepers and other consultants. It is committed to ongoing innovation, particularly in cloud computing solutions, and in 2015 was awarded the BRW award for the most innovative large company for 500+ employees and placed 2nd in BRW’s Most Innovative Companies Award list across all categories nationally.  For more information, visit or follow @MYOB on Twitter.


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. This most recent survey ran in July/August 2015. The Monitor researches business performance and attitudes in areas such as profitability, cash flow, pipeline, technology usage and the government. The weighting of respondents by both geographical location and sector is based on overall market proportions as established by Statistics New Zealand and is drawn from an independent survey group, which includes both MYOB clients and non-clients.