Starting a business, entrepreneurship and enterprise


Do you have a great business idea? Do you have an entrepreneurial spirit? Do you want to work for yourself?

Starting a business, self-employment and entrepreneurship is an exciting career choice that many NZ students and graduates explore. In pursuing this option they apply many of skills and qualities that they've developed at university, including problem solving, communicating, working as part of a team and effectively managing time. You’ll find Massey-educated entrepreneurs in every sector of the economy here and overseas. Indeed, around 7% Massey's Bachelor of Design graduates entered into self-employment on graduation in 2014.

The skills and attributes of successful entrepreneurs

There is no single, comprehensive and agreed list of the skills, attributes and personality traits that you’ll need to become a successful entrepreneur.  However, it’s likely that successful entrepreneurs are, amongst other things:




Technologically aware

Skilled relationship-builders

Risk-takers - or better still, risk minimisers

Flexible and adaptable

Financially savvy



Good communicators



Collaborative and co-operative


Good managers of themselves and/or others





Capable of dealing with ambiguity

Decision makers



In addition, successful entrepreneurs are likely to have developed a product or service that fills a niche in the market.  They’ll have researched the market and their competition and found and made good use of people who can help them.  Chances are, they’ve also faced and met challenges to get their idea off the ground. They will be able to think in an entrepreneurial way - an important skill for employees in every type of organisation - and will be creative and innovative. They can identify opportunity, see what others have not, and create new value

Self Employment 3

Small business operators and entrepreneurs play key roles in our society. In New Zealand, entrepreneurship has expanded across society and has unique characteristics in different industries like agriculture, technology, not-for-profit and the arts.  Note that entrepreneurship should not be seen as a special something that only certain people are born with. Rather, it's a way of thinking that can be nurtured. It takes a keen understanding of yourself, your motivations and of how you might attain your goals.  You'll also need to be able to express your own views and ideas effectively whilst appreciating others' viewpoints and working co-operatively.  Finally, you'll need to be able to make things happen, take informed decisions and plan and manage situations, resources and risk.

5 things to ask yourself before you start a business

  1. Is starting a business really my thing? 
  2. How might I test out my business idea to ensure that it is viable? Does it appeal to friends, family and my target market? How might I do the necessary market research? Take a look at the resources here. Check out the resources here.
  3. What might be the right structure for my business? Remember that you must keep the tax office happy so access information on this here.
  4. How am I going to support myself (and those dependant upon me) over at least the first 6 months? Most NZ banks can offer advice on raising capital for your business.
  5. Who are the best people to surround myself with? For example, if you lack financial skills, get someone who is (like an accountant). If marketing isn’t your thing have someone help you. You may also want to consider securing a business mentor.

Now, you may want to take our quick self-employment quiz:

Self Employment Quiz

Starting out

Most entrepreneurs start out with an idea. The most successful of these solve a problem, build effectively upon someone else’s good idea and/or are ideas that others will buy into.  In short, when you have an idea you’ll need to ensure that there’s likely to be a market for it. This is an opportunity to put into practice the research skills that you’ve been developing at university.

As part of this research, consider the following:

  • What need does it meet or create?
  • Who might have this need - i.e. who might be my customers?
  • What similar products/services are out there?  How do they differ from mine?
  • Who are my major competitors and what do I know about them?
  • Why should customers use my product or service?  In what ways does it differ from similar ones?
  • What could I realistically charge?
  • How can I ensure that my product/service complies with relevant regulations and legislation?

Planning and financing

You’ll need to use this research to develop a business plan - not least if you’re looking to secure funding.  We’d recommend that you keep your plan concise, whilst ensuring that it is focussed and factual.  It should detail your goals and objectives for the business and readers should come away feeling confident that it’s well-researched and makes sense. Unsurprisingly, good business plans show the author’s passion for (and understanding of) the business and that he or she has a clear sense of direction. They allow for revision as circumstances change - for example, as the business grows.

Self Employment 1

NEVER underestimate the costs involved in setting up a business.  Instead, ask yourself the following:

How much of my own money can I invest at this stage?

How much of my own money am I willing to invest?

Who else may be willing to invest and how best might I approach them?

How might my business skills and experience affect my chances of securing financing?

What is my current financial position - including my assets and outgoings?

What will my start-up costs be?  What do I need and how much will this cost?

What could I realistically charge and what sales do I forecast?

What do I need to break even? How will I deal with lean times?

How might I keep my costs down?  What could I make compromises on?


Sources of help

No matter what stage you are at, help is available for those with an entrepreneurial spirit. Useful events for budding entrepreneurs will be posted on Massey CareerHub and through our Facebook and LinkedIn presence.  Coupled with this, use the links that follow to explore other sources of help:

Useful links and resources

ecentre Massey

The ecentre provides an innovative ecosystem, a hub for entrepreneurs and start-up companies. Becoming part of ecentre’s ecosystem enables entrepreneurs to have access to advice from on-site experts, subject matter experts from Massey University and mentors from the local region. The ecentre is the business incubator based at Massey University and is located in on the Massey campus on Auckland’s North Shore.

Creative HQ

Creative HQ is Wellington’s startup base. We enable bright people to build brilliant businesses by nourishing entrepreneurial talent and driving startup innovation in our region. We are dedicated to increasing the number of high growth businesses that fuel New Zealand’s economy through our incubation and acceleration programmes as well as our grassroots entrepreneur initiatives and innovation services.

The Icehouse

The Icehouse Is Where Kiwi Businesses Grow.

We work with a wide range of businesses at various stages of growth – from entrepreneurs launching new ventures through to successful owner-managers wanting to take their business to the next level. Through our topic specific workshops, transformative group programmes and customised coaching we give our customers the skills, clarity and support to grow their business or fast track their startup. Find out more here.

NZ Entrepreneur

NZ Entrepreneur is the free digital magazine for New Zealand entrepreneurs and business builders, delivering insightful articles, interviews and inspiration every month.

Kiwi Connect Logo

KiwiConnect is building global bridges to connect world-class talent, impact capital, and high-tech innovation to the fast-growing New Zealand startup ecosystem.

Akina Foundation

The Ākina Foundation is growing social enterprise across New Zealand. Their mission is to grow the emerging New Zealand social enterprise sector by activating talent, raising awareness and building capability for social enterprise. In addition, they support high-potential social enterprises to deliver scalable solutions to pressing social and environmental challenges and facilitate new market and investment opportunities for social enterprise.

Venture Taranaki

Starting a business is a big step, and there are many things to consider. Venture Taranaki, as Taranaki's Regional Development Agency, works to support business start-ups to help ensure their success, whether it be to offer them guidance, referrals, or signposting them to other areas of support and expertise.


The BCC is New Zealand’s specialist business development organisation for startups in agriculture, agritech and agrifood, with expertise in tech transfer, startups and investment that helps entrepreneurs and innovators take products to market.

The Factory

The Factory, Palmerston North’s best co-working community workspace was designed for those working in or supporting research and innovation.

Business Mentors NZ Business Mentors New Zealand has steadily grown and developed to become the leading business mentoring service provider to the SME (small to medium-sized enterprise) sector in New Zealand.

NZ Entrepreneur Club

NZ Entrepreneur Club is a supportive community group for individuals who are currently in the process of building new businesses and startups. We get together on a regular basis, face to face (where possible) to talk about entrepreneurship, business, marketing and success in life.

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