Josie Sutherland transitioned from running global marketing campaigns to her own small business.
After a long career in marketing global brands, Sutherland founded Kohab, a small company in Auckland that sells eco-friendly birdhouses and birdseed.
The Sutherland move is part of an emerging trend that is causing more and more people to seek the flexibility and freedom to run their own business.
The change came for Sutherland because she wanted a business that would allow her to work from home to spend more time with her children.
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When she got the idea for her small business, she said the option ticked all the boxes.
âIt’s a whole different world to work for yourself. You are your own boss and you go at your own pace and it’s entirely up to you. When things are going well, you feel very empowered, âsaid Sutherland.
According to ABC Business Sales, the number of people who have registered their interest in small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) on their website has increased by 40 percent in the past few months.
Chris Small, managing director of ABC Business Sales, said most of the interest is coming from buyers looking for a company that better suits their lifestyle.
“We see a lot more of what we call ‘newbies’ who come into the market and call us and ask about buying a business,” said Small.
âStarting a business or buying a business is a similar mindset. They’re leaving what they did before because they want a little more flexibility and want to take on this challenge, âhe said.
Many of the inquiries come from people looking for an online based business that offers flexible hours and the option to work from home.
âThe demand for such companies is great. If I had 10 of these, I could sell all 10 by the end of the day, âsaid Small.
Far from the expected post-Covid-19 branding sales, many SMEs were fetching good prices in the market and there were very few distress sales, Small said.
“The companies that have shown they can continue to trade during Covid are easily getting their price,” Small said.
Natalie Tolhopf, an Auckland-based business coach, said the experience of surviving Covid-19 has made many SMB businesses a more valuable proposition.
âWhen Covid came up, smaller companies were able to move faster than larger companies. Many will have added new parts to their business or streamlined them in ways that only improved their business, âsaid Tolhopf.
But for new SMB business owners, the specifics of Covid-19 restrictions were high on the list of things to learn, she said.
However, Tolhopf believed that the opportunities for flexible working arrangements could attract even more people into starting SME businesses, particularly in Auckland.
âPeople in Auckland have had over 100 days to think about whether they want to go back to the office or enjoy flexible hours and work from home in their pajamas.
“I think a lot of people had room in their brains to see new ways to think of business ideas that didn’t exist yet and decided to try it out,” said Tolhopf.
Brad Olsen, chief economist at Infometrics, said that for someone looking to try something new, a small business is a great way to do it.
âSMEs are not only agile in the face of major challenges, they can also scale relatively quickly. If these companies manage to find their niche and expand, there will be opportunities in the future, as well as merger and acquisition opportunities, âsaid Olsen.
Despite Deltaâs setbacks, continued growth in the SME space is expected, said Olsen.
âThe risk of doing nothing and sitting still is sometimes a greater risk than trying something new. There are definitely opportunities to explore and we’re seeing more New Zealanders find those opportunities, grab it with both hands and crack it well, âsaid Olsen.
As for Sutherland, she won’t be returning anytime soon.
âI enjoy doing my own thing. I don’t know if I could be as passionate about the big corporate world that I have for my own business, âsaid Sutherland.