Sector focus: Māori Business

BDO Business Wellbeing Index

Current business performance and wellbeing remains steady, but future sentiment drops

Māori business leaders are feeling relatively positive at the moment, with current business performance sentiment remaining steady and the WHO-5 Wellbeing Index score only slightly down from October 2023. However, this positivity decreases when leaders look to the future, where both forward-looking business performance and wellbeing sentiment dip.

View journalist Paddy Gower's conversation with Angela Edwards, BDO Māori Business Sector Leader. 

Our March 2024 BDO Business Wellbeing Index survey shows Māori business leaders are feeling only slightly less positive about their current business performance compared to October 2023, with 74% of leaders saying they have felt positive about their overall business performance all or most of the time in the past two weeks. This score was a record high of 77% in October last year, showing Māori business leaders continue to feel positive about how their organisations are doing. Drivers of this positivity in the last two weeks include the performance of systems and technology, progress in meeting tax compliance and commitments, and cyber risk management profile. Areas leaders are feeling least positive about include economic factors, cash flow, and workload.

This positive sentiment decreases when looking ahead, with 68% of business leaders expecting to feel positive about their business performance all or most of the time in six months’ time. This is down 20% from October 2023, and is the lowest measure of future business performance sentiment for Māori business leaders since we started surveying.  

While it’s encouraging to see such a high measure of current business performance sentiment, it’s concerning that leaders are feeling less positive about future performance. Our survey shows the attributes driving this negative future sentiment for Māori business leaders are economic impacts, political factors, and their climate risk management profile. These attributes are reflected across many of our sectors, with Aotearoa’s economic challenges impacting businesses large and small. Continual rising costs, cost of living increases, and interest rate increases all affect Māori business leaders and put increase stress on cash flow. 

Economic concerns impact wellbeing as well as business performance

Māori business leaders are currently reporting high levels of wellbeing, with a score of 70 out of 100 on the WHO-5 Index - the World Health Organisation’s internationally recognised wellbeing measure. This has decreased slightly from a high of 76 in October 2023, but remains similar to previous survey waves. 

However, Māori business leaders don't expect their wellbeing levels to remain this high in future. 67% say they expect to feel satisfied with life all or most of the time in six months’ time, a significant decrease from 89% in October 2023. Business financial concerns, economic impacts, and high workloads are expected to be the drivers of negative wellbeing in business life - factors which have emerged throughout our survey as pressure points for leaders across all sectors.

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Tips for Māori business leaders

  • Review cash flow and margins monthly to help manage some of the pressures associated with business finances. 
  • Explore what opportunities are available to you – the Government’s procurement target for Māori businesses is 8%. Register with Amotai and get involved in your local Māori business network.
  • Create a business continuity plan to help you deliver key services through unexpected events such as adverse weather or staff shortages. 
  • Understand how the change in Government may impact your funding sources and have a plan in place in case these change.
  • Get involved in your local business networks; they are going through similar issues and are a good place to talk to others and help find solutions. Te Puni Kōkiri can also be a provider of support. 

Further support:

Expert thoughts

"There are challenges for businesses around Aotearoa at the moment, and Māori businesses are no exception. Māori leaders may be more comfortable thinking about the long-term holistic impacts of their businesses, but now are having to operate in a less comfortable space. In the shorter term, this means focusing on immediate business priorities including cash flow and core finances. While it’s heartening to see current business performance and wellbeing scores holding steady, the less positive expectation for six months’ time is concerning. For Māori business leaders to mitigate this and thrive into the future, it’s important to keep in touch and reach out for support. Collaboration is a natural solution for Māori businesses when the going gets tough, alongside reaching out to business networks and trusted advisers.”