Want to increase your chance of surviving the first five years?

You may think you can do it all alone, but having a strong support network around you can be a significant advantage. It can even be the difference between success and failure – so building a support network should be one of the first things you do.

Support from day one: assessing your idea

A support group can play an important role when you’re at the stage of assessing the feasibility of your idea. There will always be many ways you can improve your concept and therefore enhance your chances of success. The more brains you can bring to bear on your plans the better.

Be careful not to rely solely on friends or family to give you advice about your idea because they may simply want to support your enthusiasm. Surround yourself (like other successful owners) with a team of independent advisers.

Advice from one experienced business person who has overcome the challenges of starting a business can be worth far more than the opinions of others who may never have run a business.

“I’ve met a lot of other young entrepreneurs and start-ups through going to workshops, women-only seminars and all sorts of business building workshops which have been beneficial." - Kathryn Fleming, The Flower Project.


Research shows that having a business mentor can double your chances of surviving the first five years. Mentors can be particularly helpful in some key areas:

  • Assessing market demand.
  • Developing your competitive advantage.
  • Developing your marketing strategy.
  • Assessing the financial feasibility of your idea.

They can also be a terrific sounding board when you have a decision to make or an issue to resolve. Running a small business can be lonely so having an experienced, objective mentor to talk to can be a huge help.

One way to find a mentor is simply to approach a successful business person you know or admire and ask for their help – you may be surprised at how willing successful business people are to share their knowledge.

If you don’t know of any likely mentor, investigate available mentoring services.

You’ll also need to have professional advisers you can call on when you need them.

Building your business network

For many, the idea of ‘networking’ can be daunting - but it’s a valuable investment in the future.

Put simply, networking is engaging with like-minded and/or local business people. It gives you the opportunity to discuss the challenges of starting a business with other small business owners at a similar stage, as well as with more experienced owners.

Here are some ways to get started with building your business network:

  • Start attending free ANZ business workshops running in your area to network with other business owners.
  • Join a local Chamber of Commerce and any relevant industry or business associations.
  • Look for other business groups and networks in your area.
  • Engage in business networking platforms on social media like LinkedIn.

Getting the best from your business networks

To make the most out of networking opportunities, be systematic. Always make sure you have a business card to give people you meet (or use your phone to swap contact details) and dedicate set times to engage in social media.

When you attend a networking event, go with specific questions you need answers to. For example, in the software area you may want to ask questions like these (depending on your business needs):

  • “What accounting package do you use in your business? How user friendly is it and does it generate the reports you need to manage your business?”
  • “How do you manage your customer database? Can you recommend a software program?”

Continue the process of widening your network throughout your business life. It will help you find answers and lead to new opportunities and customers. As the saying goes, business is all about people.

Important information

The material is for information purposes only. You should seek professional advice relevant to your individual circumstances. While ANZ has taken care to ensure that this information is from reliable sources, it cannot warrant its accuracy, completeness or suitability for your intended use. To the extent permitted by law, ANZ does not accept any responsibility or liability arising from your use of this information. We recommend seeking financial advice about your situation and goals before getting a financial product. To talk to one of our team at ANZ, please call 0800 269 249, or for more information about ANZ’s financial advice service or to view our financial advice provider disclosure statement see anz.co.nz/fapdisclosure