Helping New Zealand’s small businesses grow would benefit our economy — but many lack the time, confidence or both to set their sights higher.

Andrew Hamilton, chief executive of The Icehouse, offers his tips. Kiwi business owners are the heroes of our economy. We know small business owners and operators tend not to sit back and relax — running a small business is really hard work, leaving little time to think about how to grow.

But if you set yourself an achievable goal that will add value to your business — whether it’s a boost in sales, building a high-performing team, better engaging with your customers, or simply to free up more of your time — this will give you the confidence boost needed to think about more ways to grow.

Step 1: Where you want to go

Don’t know where to start? Think about something that hasn’t gone so well. Diagnosing a problem is easy — solving it is where the value lies.

It can also be helpful to look back at what your business has achieved so far to give you some context for your goals.

Create goals you can visualise and measure. It’s what we call the aspiration and dream phase. A quote I often repeat to the business owners we work with is: “Once I could picture the goal, everything started to happen.” Once you define this goal, you and your team can set out on the journey to ensure your business gets there.

If you need help creating goals and time out from the day-to-day, Icehouse’s programmes can help. You can also talk to your local member of the Regional Business Partner Network. There are 14 of these throughout the country, dedicated to helping kiwi businesses grow and innovate.

Step 2: Keep pushing towards your goals

We know many businesses create great long-term goals, eg those that might take five years to achieve. But you should also think about how to keep momentum going and how to measure performance against this long-term vision for your business.

Ask yourself how you’ll do things differently. Make sure you don’t revert to old ways that don’t help your business improve and flourish.

Online tools and resources from

Our new Business Planning 101 section can help you plan your business and set goals, including:

3: Answer to someone

One way to help you reach goals is to get others to hold you to account. At The Icehouse, we call them “momentum enablers”. You could:

  • Take on a business coach, an advisor or even family members. 
  • Use your co-owner, if you have one, and visa versa. 
  • Form a peer group of non-competitive business owners. 

You could also attend workshops on keeping your momentum. These are often run by growth hubs like ours, and regional business advisors — contact your local Regional Business Partner for details.

Step 4: Remove roadblocks

The most powerful inhibitor to your growth can be you, the business owner. Find a way to create a new vision, a new goal and a dream. Build your confidence, your belief and start growing. Keep pushing and find an accountability tool to help you keep up the momentum.

The Icehouse can help with workshops and programmes dedicated to helping Kiwi business owners remove road blocks, and create and achieve their goals. Courses include the Achieving Business Growth Workshop and the Owner Manager Programme.