A silver lining for buyers of small businesses

Chris Panagiotidis and Elle Likopoulos: the father-daughter team at Absolute Business Brokers.

Shared from the 8/14/2020 The Age Digital Edition eEdition

The pandemic is pushing many businesses to the brink, but also presenting opportunity for some.

Small business owners, no matter what their business, have always shared a common bond: despite the many and varied challenges of running their own business, they wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.

With COVID-19 posing the biggest challenge that any small business will ever face, that passion

– and resilience – will be tested like never before.

One businesswoman, Elle Likopoulos, principal of Melbourne family business Absolute Business Brokers, believes there is a silver lining to be found in the COVID-19 maelstrom.

“This market provides an opportunity to buy a business at a price that will be considerably less than what the business will sell for in the longer term,” she says.

Chris Panagiotidis, Director of Absolute Business Brokers – and Elle’s father – says he hasn’t seen prices this low “in decades”.

“Investors can buy established businesses for less than the cost of setting up a new business,” he notes.

The range of businesses on the market is diverse – beauty salons, gyms, bakeries, florists, dry cleaners, cafes and takeaways – but what they have in common is the opportunity they represent.

Likopoulos acknowledges there will be widespread business closures over the next 12 months, particularly as government support measures expire, but she also believes there will be a new golden age for small retailers on the other side of the pandemic.

“We are seeing a re-evaluation of what’s important,’’ she says. ‘‘COVID-19 is going to be a turning point, a return to an appreciation of local businesses and local community.

“We are going to see people return to cafes and businesses in their local area in preference to anonymous mega-shopping centres.”

Panagiotidis agrees, but adds that landlords will have to play their part in the renaissance of the local shopping strip.

“Rents have reached a point where they not only make it difficult for businesses to make a profit but are basically setting them up to fail,” he says. “Landlords need to re-evaluate the ridiculous rents they have been charging small businesses.”

In the meantime, Elle Likopoulos is concerned that women business owners – especially women with young families – are particularly vulnerable in the pandemic.

“Women business owners are under particular pressure because of the strain of having to look after home and family during lockdown, as well as tackle all the issues and challenges of running a business in the middle of a pandemic,” she says.

“Many women feel they have no choice but to sell their businesses because it is so hard for them to juggle the competing demands on their time and energy.”

This concern has prompted Absolute Business Brokers to introduce a series of podcasts aimed at providing advice to women business owners, as well as a regular Zoom group for women in business.

“We want to make sure that women’s confidence is not impacted by COVID-19,” Likopoulos says. “I don’t want women to feel that it’s just too hard to have their own business at the moment. We want to encourage women to invest and remain in business.”

Are you thinking of selling your business?

Absolute Business Brokers will provide you with a market appraisal that will ensure you are getting the necessary information to put you in the right position to get your business sold.