In association with

Funding and other government help

If you’re a sole trader or contractor you may be entitled to government benefits and other programmes to help you when you’re starting out, paying tax and saving for retirement.

Becoming a contractor, sole trader or starting a business can affect any Work and Income benefits you get. If you get income support, your benefit payments usually stop when you start a full-time business, including going contracting. It may be different if you have a family, for example, you may still get help with housing and childcare costs. 

Ask your Work and Income case manager how your income support will change and any extra help you may get. 

Childcare subsidies

Subsidies for pre-school and out-of-school care are available to many working parents. 

Contact Work and Income to find out if you’re eligible. 

Working for Families tax credits(external link) — Inland Revenue

Childcare subsidy(external link) — Work and Income

Flexi-wage subsidy

Flexi-Wage for self-employment is a subsidy that you may be able to get when you want to start a business. You may be able to get help if:

  • you or your spouse get government assistance, for example benefits
  • you are not bankrupt
  • you are a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident. 

What you get depends on your financial situation and your business needs. Ask your Work and Income case manager about how to apply. 

Flexi-wage(external link) — Work and Income

Self-employment(external link) — Work and Income

From parental leave to KiwiSaver, claiming expenses to ACC cover for workplace injuries, take this quiz to find out what benefits are available. When you’re done, follow the links in the answers for more details. 

Other assistance

Working for Families

If you’re a sole trader, contractor or employee, Working for Families make it easier to raise a family while you’re working.

Inland Revenue’s website has more information.

Working for Families(external link) — Inland Revenue

Parental leave

If you or your partner is having a baby or taking permanent responsibility for the care of a child under 6, you may be entitled to paid parental leave.

How to qualify for parental leave

You’re eligible for paid parental leave if you’ve been self-employed for at least an average of 10 hours a week for at least any 26 of the 52 weeks up to your due date or when the child comes into your care.

Your entitlement won't be affected if you stop being self-employed instead of, or while you’re on, parental leave.

Paid parental leave(external link) — Inland Revenue

Parental leave

Grants and funding

Business training and advice grant

This grant helps with the cost of training and advice, including using a business advisor when you want to start your own business. You can apply if:

  • you or your spouse get government assistance
  • you’re a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident.
  • you are planning to take up, or are already getting the Flexi-Wage Self Employment subsidy.

How to apply(external link) — Work and Income

Grants and help for your new business

Capability vouchers

NZTE Capability Development Vouchers help business owners seeking to grow their business — including GST-registered sole traders — with the cost of developing and training in areas like:

  • planning
  • raising capital
  • export
  • finance
  • marketing.

Register with the Regional Business Partner Network and talk to one of their advisors to find out if you meet the criteria to access funding, for example being GST-registered and a privately owned business. 

Contact details — Regional Business Partner Network

Research and development (R&D)

There are grants available to support research and development needs of small businesses — whether you’re starting out, looking to grow or you are an established R&D performer. You can find out if you’re eligible for grants on the Callaghan Innovation website.

Callaghan Innovation also offers:

  • innovation skills programmes
  • help with research and technology 
  • access to innovation networks.

R&D project funding(external link) — Callaghan Innovation

Support for startups(external link) — Callaghan Innovation

Technology and product development assistance(external link) — Callaghan Innovation

Innovation skills programmes(external link)— Callaghan Innovation

Access to experts(external link) — Callaghan Innovation

What can I get help with 

Hiring staff

No matter how long you’ve been in business for, hiring your first employee is a real milestone and an exciting step to take. In the rush to get someone on board, however, it can be easy to forget all there is to do. 

The first step is confirming what kind of help you’re going to get. We have guidance on how to hire the right employee type and a visual guide that explains what different employee offer. 

Hiring the right employee type

Guide to staff types [PDF, 1.5 MB]

You can hire staff, but you must be registered as an employer with Inland Revenue and meet certain obligations. Most sole traders start out as the only person working their business. That means you’re responsible for your dealings with government agencies, such as ACC and Inland Revenue. 

Find further guidance on how you can become an employer and how to register with government agencies. 

Becoming an employer 

Registering with government agencies


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