Last Updated: 31 May 2024

📉 The Main Barriers to Getting Online for Auckland SMEs

In an increasingly digital world, having an online presence is crucial for businesses to thrive. However, many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in New Zealand, particularly in Auckland, still lack an online presence. Understanding the reasons behind this trend is essential for addressing the barriers and helping SMEs transition to the digital landscape.

Percentage of SMEs Without an Online Presence 📊

According to the Yellow SME Report 2023, a significant portion of New Zealand’s SMEs remain offline. The report reveals that 33% of SMEs have no online presence. Despite the push towards digital transformation, this figure indicates that a substantial number of small businesses are not leveraging the benefits of being online.

Main Barriers to Getting Online 🚧

1. Lack of Time ⏰

One of the primary barriers SMEs face is the lack of time. Business owners and managers are often overwhelmed with daily operations, leaving little room to focus on building and maintaining an online presence. The report highlights that 28% of SMEs cite time constraints as a major hurdle.

2. Budget Constraints 💸

Financial limitations also play a significant role in preventing SMEs from going online. Many small businesses operate on tight budgets, making it challenging to allocate funds for website development, digital marketing, and other online activities. 30% of SMEs report that budget constraints are a key barrier to establishing an online presence.

3. Lack of Digital Skills and Knowledge 📚

A lack of digital skills and knowledge is another critical barrier. Small business owners may not have the expertise required to build and manage a website or understand the intricacies of digital marketing. This knowledge gap can make the prospect of going online daunting. The report indicates that 23% of SMEs need someone to help them get online.

4. Uncertainty About Benefits 🤔

Some SMEs are uncertain about the return on investment (ROI) of having an online presence. They may not see the immediate benefits or understand how a website can contribute to their business growth. This skepticism can deter them from investing in digital tools. 21% of SMEs are unsure of the benefits to their business.

5. Relevance to Business Model 📉

For certain industries, an online presence may not seem relevant or necessary. For example, some local services or trades may rely heavily on word-of-mouth and local advertising. 19% of SMEs believe that having an online presence isn’t relevant to their business.

Addressing the Barriers 🌉

Government Initiatives and Support 🎯

The New Zealand government has been proactive in supporting the digitisation of SMEs. Initiatives such as funding and expert strategy support are aimed at helping businesses overcome these barriers. The $200+ million funding for digitisation is a testament to these efforts.

Educational Programs and Resources 📘

Providing SMEs with access to digital education and resources can bridge the knowledge gap. Workshops, online courses, and mentorship programs can equip business owners with the skills needed to go digital.

Affordable Digital Solutions 💻

Offering affordable and scalable digital solutions tailored to the needs of SMEs can help alleviate budget constraints. Platforms that provide cost-effective website development and digital marketing tools can be instrumental.

Emphasising the Benefits 💡

Highlighting success stories and case studies of SMEs that have benefited from going online can help dispel uncertainties. Demonstrating the potential for increased visibility, customer engagement, and sales can encourage more businesses to make the leap.


The barriers to getting online for Auckland SMEs are significant but not insurmountable. By understanding and addressing these challenges, we can help more small businesses transition to the digital world. With the right support, resources, and mindset, Auckland’s SMEs can harness the power of the internet to grow and succeed in an increasingly digital economy.


Yellow NZ. (2023). New Zealand’s Small Business Nation 2023. Retrieved from Yellow SME Report 2023