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Business Operations Survey: 2014
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  20 March 2015

The Business Operations Survey is a modular survey that contains a repeating business operations module, an alternating information and communications technology (ICT) or innovation module, and a contracted module. In 2014, the contracted modules focused on skills acquisition and finance. 

Increase in businesses with six or more employees

The number of businesses fitting our criteria for inclusion in the survey increased to 37,944 in 2014 – up from 35,307 in 2010. The Business Operations Survey only includes businesses with six or more employees.

Latest business demography statistics show there were 487,880 enterprises in 2014, and 90 percent of these had fewer than six employees. However, 89 percent of employees work in enterprises with six or more employees. This means the survey covers most of the business operations activity taking place.

Graph, Business profile by size, last financial year at August 2014.

Business Operations Survey gives a profile of New Zealand businesses in 2014

The main characteristics we use to describe a business are the industry (as defined by the standard classification ANZSIC06) and the size (number of employees).

In 2014, the largest industries by business count were:

  • agriculture, forestry, and fishing
  • manufacturing
  • construction
  • retail trade
  • accommodation and food services
  • professional, scientific, and technical services.

Of the businesses with six or more employees, most had between six and 19 employees – almost three-quarters of businesses were in this size category. This was followed by businesses with 20 to 49 employees, at 17 percent.

The latest business demography statistics show that businesses with 100 or more employees were the least common. However, the highest proportion of employees – almost 50 percent – worked in businesses of this size. Over one-third of businesses with 100 or more employees were in the retail trade and manufacturing industries.  

Graph, Business profile by industry, last financial year at August 2014.

More businesses engaging in exporting

The survey collects information on participation rates in business activities, which include: export sales, sales from tourism, investment in expansion, and research and development. The trend since 2007 shows increases across each of these activities. The number of businesses engaged in export sales had the strongest growth, with an 8 percent increase since 2007.

Tourism sales and investment in expansion increased slightly since 2013. In 2014, 29 percent of businesses were investing in expansion, while 24 percent were involved in export sales.

Graph, Business activities, 2007 to 2014.

Less than one-third of businesses request finance

Businesses can request finance for a variety of reasons. In 2014, 8 percent of businesses requested equity finance, while almost one-quarter requested debt finance. Overall, less than one-third of businesses requested finance.

Businesses in the transport, postal, and warehousing industry had the highest proportion of businesses requesting debt finance – 37 percent. This industry also had the highest proportion of businesses to request equity finance – 14 percent.

Businesses may need to offer up collateral to secure finance. Thirty-seven percent of businesses used business assets as collateral for finance, while 26 percent used personal assets.

Figures from the survey reflect business counts only. We do not collect value amounts, such as the amounts in dollars.

Little change in credit facilities

We gauged how businesses felt about their financing situation by asking how their existing credit facilities changed over the last financial year. Overdraft/credit limits and security/collateral requirements for just over half of businesses stayed the same. However, just over one-third of businesses felt their interest rates had increased.

Graph, Change in credit facilities, last financial year at August 2014.

Fewer businesses have outstanding debt

Businesses can have different types of debt at one time, such as overdrafts, loans, leases, hire purchases, or credit cards. In 2014, fewer businesses reported having most of these kinds of debts, compared with 2010. At the same time, the proportion of businesses requesting debt finance to repay these debts has steadily declined since 2007. 

Vacancies harder to fill; training rates high 

Hard-to-fill job vacancies rise, as do total vacancies

In 2014, the proportion of businesses with job vacancies rose to 76 percent – compared with 68 percent in 2013. Even though more businesses had vacancies, they also reported a higher number of filled jobs over the same period (see Quarterly Employment Survey: September 2014 quarter).

In 2014, 91 percent of businesses in the accommodation and food industry reported they had vacancies. This is due to the nature of the industry, which tends to have short-term or casual staff, with a lot of turnover.

The lowest proportion of businesses with vacancies were in the agriculture, forestry, and fishing industry, and the ‘other services’ industry – both with 66 percent.

Find more information on employment and unemployment, and the labour market. 

Graph, Businesses with vacancies, last financial year at August 2014.

Management skills are most difficult to obtain from job applicants

One-fifth of businesses found it difficult to obtain job applicants with management or supervisory skills, making these the hardest skills to find. The next-hardest were professional or technical skills, and trade-related skills. Just under one-fifth of businesses struggled to get applicants with these skills.

Team-working skills were easier to find – over half of businesses said these skills were not difficult to obtain from job applicants. Also more common were oral communication and numeracy skills, with just under half of businesses saying these skills were not difficult to find.

Graph, Difficulty in obtaining skills from job applicants, last financial year at August 2014.

All industries have high rates of staff training

In 2014, 84 percent of businesses trained at least some of their staff. Almost all businesses in the health care and social assistance industry trained staff. Even the lowest rate of training was fairly high, at 75 percent in the agriculture, forestry, and fishing industry.

ICT now an established business tool, with more businesses getting faster Internet

With information and communications technology (ICT) now an established business tool, the proportion of businesses using the Internet hasn’t changed, and businesses reported only a small increase in Internet sales. However, the number of fibre-optic connections for ultra-fast broadband continues to grow.

In 2014, almost one-quarter of businesses that use the Internet were already using a fibre-optic connection, and a further 13 percent planned to connect within a year.

Internet Service Provider Survey: 2014 shows that fibre-optic connections across residential and business sectors increased to 46,000 – up from just 13,000 connections in 2013.

Access Business Operations Survey time series back to 2007

Business Operations Survey time series going back to 2007 are now available in NZ.Stat. These replace the detailed Excel tables that used to accompany this release. We have published this data at the full two-digit ANZSIC breakdown and by size (number of employees). This will allow you to create your own customised tables.

The data available includes information on:

  • international presence
  • employment
  • business performance
  • other business factors such as comparison to competitors, requests for finance
  • computer use
  • information and communications technology (ICT) services and security
  • impact of ICT
  • Internet and network use
  • web presence
  • cellphone use
  • recruitment
  • internal skills gaps
  • barriers to training
  • recent financing arrangements
  • equity finance including reasons for requests, intent of use, provision
  • debt finance including reasons for requests, intent of use, provision.

For summary tables in Excel, see the 'Downloads' box. 

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