Does the business community have a split personality?
On one hand, it seems that those on the ground, running their businesses day-to-day, are pretty happy. Business is good for most, there's a strong pipeline of customers and, if anything, the squeeze comes from whether they have the capacity to handle the work required.
But then you see the business confidence surveys and they're — increasingly — not looking good.
This must be down to a change in sentiment, rather than the business environment itself.
Most businesspeople, whether they liked them or not, had got used to the National Government.
But this new Government is still an unknown. There are still details missing for key policies. We aren't always clear what funding and support is coming to our regions and whether there will be support for our businesses.
What we do know is that costs are looking to increase and credit is beginning to tighten. For a business, how and when to make changes to take into account increasing costs and regulations will be critical for business success.
Strike action — a very us-versus-them approach to employment relations — seems to be becoming very fashionable. It's hard to feel confident when you don't know what lies ahead.
People have been quick to dismiss the confidence surveys but, even if they don't reflect the current business experience, they highlight something important.
There's nothing more important in business as attitude. When businesses have a positive outlook, they're looking for growth opportunities, investing, taking a chance on new workers or a new project. When they're nervous or even pessimistic, that all grinds to a halt. And one person's pessimism can then be infectious, spreading on until the negativity becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.
The Government can take heart that business is still doing well. The economy is growing. Life is good for many SME owners. But it also needs to provide more certainty about its support for those businesses.
Jeremy Tauri is an associate at Plus Chartered Accountants.
Phone: (09) 438 3322
Fax: 438 8455
134 Bank Street, Whangarei
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