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NZ business survey reveals low appetite for international expansion

A Grant Thornton survey of nearly 300 business owners and leaders across New Zealand has revealed 76% of respondents have no plans to expand internationally.

New Zealand businesses are currently in a good position to enter overseas markets with new free trade agreements in place, reduced shipping costs, and wider acceptance of remote working.

However, Grant Thornton’s latest business research reveals a lack of appetite for international expansion among more than three quarters of survey participants, with only 5% stepping into overseas markets in the last 12 months.

Greg Thompson, Head of Business Advisory Services at Grant Thornton New Zealand says, “The prospect of investing in an a perceivably unknown market can feel too risky. But it’s a risk that has the potential to achieve much higher returns than what you can gain from New Zealand’s small market.

Thompson says one of the keys to success is to begin with a low-commitment approach, “You don’t have to rush in and set up offshore operations. You can start by choosing a product or service that can be delivered with the lowest effort and identify markets with the biggest uptake – preferably with untapped demand; for most Kiwi businesses, Australia and the Pacific Islands are the obvious choices.

“Businesses can then discover what consumers in that market like by selling online and shipping to international buyers; using local distributors is also a great way to leverage expertise without the expense of setting up an international office.

“When it comes to selling services, Kiwis often have the ability to provide high quality work at slightly lower rates than their Australian or US counterparts. And, thanks to the massive surge in remote work in diverse locations, exporting services is now more feasible than ever.

“When done right, expanding into overseas a markets can have enormous benefits including increased revenue and more growth opportunities, both of which ultimately drive up a business’s value. For our wider economy, it creates jobs, upskills our people, improves productivity and helps us learn from new markets so we can improve our own practices.”

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