What a Year!22 Dec 2021

After 30 years in business 2021 has been our most challenging year ever.

When you begin your business, as we did in early 1992, there was a sense of excitement and apprehension of the unknown. Every business opportunity was seized upon and every $ was precious, and there was always that feeling that everyone else knew more than you did. Business success also has an element of timing and good luck, and ours came in the form of a small news article about Wilson & Horton winning a court ruling that an advert placed by an overseas advertiser in NZ should be zero-rated for GST.

As our immigration and education business at the time was almost exclusively providing services to overseas clients, we approached the IRD who, to their credit, promptly undertook an audit of our business and a substantial refund of all the GST we had paid to date was duly made!

Looking back, these early challenges pale into insignificance compared with the challenges of these past two years. Last year we were all presented with the unknown, both in our business and in our personal lives. But once the “unknown” became “known” we all pivoted and adjusted our business operations and personal lives to the new world and got on with life – thinking that 2021 would be better. However, for many businesses, including our immigration business, 2021 has proved even more challenging.

We provide a service to migrants, and to employers who employ migrants, and advise, assist, and manage the various visa and regulatory requirements to enable migrants to enter, study, work, invest and live in New Zealand. It was not so much the border closure that impacted on our business, but the very frequent and significant legislation changes that happened on an almost daily basis. Having instructed clients on the basis of the relevant legislation one day the Government decided to issue everyone free visas the next day.

Having geared up employers for the new accreditation regime (after 3 years of planning) and then have a last-minute deferral until sometime next year. Having to deal with all our visa holders and investor migrants who have completed all their visa requirements but who are not able to actually enter New Zealand and more. And then the introduction of the 2021 Resident Visa and the Immigration New Zealand website immediately crashing…

Our learnings from 2021 are to expect the unexpected, to embrace flexible working arrangements as these are here to stay, utilise technology to its potential, and to make the most of any opportunities for the team to come together – our people are our greatest asset, and we need to explore all options to really look after them.

Looking forward we now have more legislative certainty (we hope!) for immigration in the coming year and can plan forward with some confidence for another busy and successful year - and one which we very much intend to be more enjoyable than the year we are now leaving behind!

Link: First published in Waikato Business News Recap 2021