“We’re going to have to put the prices up”- that’s the message from more than half the small business owners in the Winter Pulse Check.

Pressures from labour shortages, rising input prices, port and shipping delays have combined, leaving business owners increasingly exhausted and frustrated.

While many remain confident their businesses are doing well, there has been a marked rise in those reporting anxiety, stress and disturbed sleep as operating conditions worsen.

Top three things reducing small business confidence are government policies, the critical skills shortage and a slow COVID19 vaccine rollout while the main confidence boosters include any potential for the skills shortage to ease, New Zealand opening its borders and the next phase of the COVID19 vaccine rollout.

Frustrations with Government centre on immigration policy, the skills shortage and a growing sentiment that small businesses are being ignored. Working capital is showing signs of stress with an increase in the number of businesses facing late payments and defaults.

Stephen James commented: “There has been a marked change in sentiment in the Winter Pulse Check. Business owners report they are feeling ignored and there is a lack of understanding on the part of Government as to the operational pressures they face, particularly regarding the ongoing – and deepening – skills shortage. Their concern is not for their businesses alone – they are seeing first-hand how immigration policy is pulling people apart and the trauma that inflicts.

“It seems contradictory to have high levels of confidence on the one hand and warnings of price rises on the other but this shift has been unfolding as trading conditions have got harder – to the point where business owners are exhausted trying to keep on top of things. For many of our members, The Alternative Board has been the key to getting through as their peer board gives them the opportunity to discuss and tackle issues with other business owners facing the same challenges. I would urge all business owners to ask for help or seek support and not think they have to be stoic and struggle on alone”.

You can download the full results here and access all the Pulse Checks here.

The Pulse Check is run as a regular monitor of the business sector and the Winter edition surveyed 271 of our members and associates between 26 July – 1 August with a confidence level of 90% and a 5% margin of error.

Business InsightsWinter Pulse Check – Small businesses warn of shocks ahead