Home » 'Newbies' increasingly looking to buy small businesses for flexibility of self-employment – Stuff.co.nz

'Newbies' increasingly looking to buy small businesses for flexibility of self-employment – Stuff.co.nz

by Arifa Rana

Josie Sutherland​ went from running global marketing campaigns to running her own small business.
After a long career marketing global brands, Sutherland​ set up Kohab, a small business selling eco-friendly bird houses and bird food in Auckland.
Sutherland’s​ move is part of an emerging trend for more people seeking the flexibility and freedom of running their own business.
For Sutherland​, the change came as she wanted a business that allowed her to work from home to spend more time with her children.
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When she came up with the idea for her small business, she said the option ticked all the boxes.
“It’s a completely different world working for yourself. You are your own boss, and you go at your own speed, and it’s all down to you. When things go right it makes you feel very empowered,” Sutherland​ said.
According ABC Business Sales, the number of people registering their interest for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) on their website rose 40 per cent in the last few months.
Chris Small​, managing director of ABC Business Sales, said most of the interest was from buyers looking for a business that better fit their lifestyle.
“We are seeing a lot more of what we call ‘newbies’ coming to market ringing us up and asking about buying a business,” Small​ said.
“Starting a business or buying a business is a similar mindset. They are leaving what they did previously because they want a bit more flexibility, and they want to take that challenge on,” he said.
Many of the enquiries are from people looking for an online based business, that allowed flexible hours, and the option to work from home.
“There is a serious demand for these kinds of businesses. If I had 10 of them, I could sell all 10 by the end of day tomorrow,” Small​ said.
Far from the fire sales expected to follow Covid-19, many SMEs were fetching good prices on the market and there were very few distress sales, Small​ said.
“Those businesses that have shown the ability to continue to trade during Covid are easily fetching their asking price,” Small​ said.
Natalie Tolhopf​, an Auckland based business coach said the experience of surviving Covid-19 had made many SME businesses into a more valuable offering.
“When Covid came, smaller businesses were able to pivot quicker than larger businesses. Many will have added new parts to their business or streamlined in a way that only improved their businesses,” Tolhopf​ said.
But for new owners of SME businesses, top of the list of things to learn were the ins and outs of Covid-19 restrictions, she said.
But Tolhopf​ believed the options of flexible working arrangements may tempt even more people into starting SME businesses, particularly in Auckland.
“People in Auckland have had over 100 days to think about whether they want to go back to the office or whether they are enjoying flexible hours and working from home in their PJs.
“I think a lot of people have had space in their brain to see new opportunities, thinking of business ideas that don’t yet exist and deciding to give it a go,” Tolhopf​ said.
Brad Olsen​, principal economist at Infometrics, said for someone wanting to try something new a small enterprise was a great way to go about it.
“As well as being nimble in the face of big challenges, SMEs can scale up fairly quickly. There are sale opportunities and merger and acquisition opportunities in the future, if these businesses manage to find their niche and expand,” Olsen​ said.
Despite the setbacks of Delta, expect to see continued growth in the SME space, Olsen​ said.
“The risk of doing nothing and sitting still is sometimes a greater risk than trying something new. There are definitely options to explore, and we are seeing more New Zealanders out there finding these opportunities, grasping with both hands, and giving it a good crack,” Olsen​ said.
As for Sutherland​ she won’t be going back any time soon.
“I am enjoying doing my own thing. I don’t know if I could have the passion in the big corporate world that I have for my own business,” Sutherland​ said.
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