Business purchase queries surge as people look to become their own boss

business transactions

Business sales marketplace expects a flurry of activity in business purchase transactions, as a confluence of factors is igniting a strong interest in purchasing small- and medium-sized businesses.

Mary Tamvakologos, Director of Operations at AnyBusiness, said that the outlook is positive for the business market, amid a perfect storm of strong demand, low supply in businesses for sale and a strong recovery in consumer and business confidence.

“Confidence is returning quite strongly, especially for small businesses after the challenges of the last 18 months. But there are many more prospective buyers than there are sellers at present,” Tamvakologos said. “We have seen listings slump from almost 22,000 pre-COVID to just over 16,000 currently. That’s despite website traffic almost doubling and buyer enquiries remaining stable over the past 18 months. And with lockdowns now ending in the southern states, we’re expecting the number of enquiries to increase.”

Tamvakologos added that despite lockdowns and patronage caps, cafés and coffee shops remain the most sought-after type of business in Australia, ahead of takeaway food shops and cleaning businesses.

“Cafes were always our biggest source of enquiry and that hasn’t changed with COVID,” Tamvakologos explained. “In part that’s because there are more of them, but they are also one of the easiest businesses to operate in terms of skillsets and equipment required. They aren’t like specialised manufacturing or professional services where the barriers to entry are much higher.”

AnyBusiness has seen a dramatic increase in the demand for liquor businesses, with owners well-placed to extract value from their businesses. Other business types popular with prospective buyers are restaurants, service stations, supermarkets, childcare centres, news agencies, and motels – the latter owing to renewed interest in local travel given border closures. Hair and beauty salons, gyms and sports complexes, construction firms, and retailers also have sizeable markets.

Sydney-based business broker Zoran Sarabaca, of Xcllusive Business Sales, echoed Tamvakologos’s observations on buyer enquiries and listing volumes.

“We’re seeing strong demand across the board, not just confined to any particular industry,” Sarabaca said. “But anything to do with liquor, or essential services more broadly, there has been considerable demand for those businesses. And that has continued post-lockdown. Also, online businesses – anything you can run from home or isn’t tied to one place or region, they remain popular, too.”

Sarabaca added that enquiries aren’t restricted to a particular type of buyer, pointing out that the market is seeing activity from a mixture of people wanting to take charge of their own livelihoods and other businesses trying to grow.

“There’s more private buyers than businesses, simply because there are more people than companies, but both sectors are pretty active at the moment,” he said.

Looking ahead, rising numbers of prospective buyers entering the market, interest rates remaining at record lows and a return to more normal trading conditions are all positive signs for the business market, according to Tamvakologos.

“We’ll also see more listings as more business owners make the decisions to sell, given the strong level of buyer interest as well as high vaccination rates delivering a sense of optimism that lockdowns will be a thing of the past,” Tamvakologos said. “I definitely think the so-called ‘Great Resignation’ in 2022 will also see more people looking at business opportunities and self-employment. Everyone has a dream and after the shift in priorities and working conditions of the past 18 months, more people than ever are looking to fulfil that dream!”