I went to yet another government department seminar the other day. You don’t want the gory details about the main topic (and they are pretty awful if you are in the financial advice business – even inadvertently). But what I did think was worth telling you about was a new government website which actually seems quite useful for small businesses - www.business.govt.nz.
It is no surprise to me that it comes from the Ministry of Economic Development, who, after all, had the first online companies register in the world – I know, because I was a beta tester, way back in 1997. I don’t know about you, but I’m in and out of that register every day, because it is so useful as an information source. It has become standard operating procedure to use it to find out who you are really dealing with, which is rather important to know if you are entering into a contract, and what else they do. These registers have formed the basis for our personal property securities regime, with the online register you can use to secure your rights over the goods you sell - and if you are not doing that you had better talk to a lawyer pronto.
It is actually a rather large website – but then, running a business does involve an awful lot of issues – marketing, selling, getting the money in, paying tax, employing staff - you name it, it is all there. What I liked best was that everything I looked at was sensible and easy to find and one of the best designed websites I have seen for ease of use.
There are tools on how to deal with tax, how to estimate the health of your business and what to do about the things you are worrying about. Everything comes with links to useful websites or other pages with good advice.
While it is especially handy for people setting up a new business, it is very comprehensive so it is useful for people who have established businesses too. Let’s face it, we all have some things we could do better in our own little patch. So pay some visits, and allocate some time to learning a bit more while you’re eating your lunch.
On a related topic, we learned about the new iGovt initiative. This is a personal login that you can use for all of your government dealings – company searches, trademark searches, car registrations, rates (yes, it is extending to local bodies) so that you only have to be verified once with the Department of Internal Affairs, then you can ask for your credentials to be passed on to other departments. I think we will hear a lot about this in the near future, and much of it will be about people’s concerns about privacy.
We were assured that it has been structured in such a way that the individual could control the use of information – the Privacy Commissioner had been involved, etc, etc, and it would work just fine. I hope so – it is the scariest thing I’ve heard of in a while though I can see the rationale for it on efficiency grounds.
No doubt we will find out more over the coming months (the Companies Office will go live with it in early July, I believe) but it does seem like a lot of eggs in one basket.
Rae Nield is a solicitor specialising in marketing law. This article is intended for general information, and should not be relied on as specific legal advice. You should consult a lawyer for advice relating to your own specific legal problems. Rae Nield can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org