In 2000, the newspapers were prime advertising spaces for business for sale, there weren't very many options and this is when the Bsale Marketplace was born. To help owners to advertise their opportunities and to allow buyers an easy place to search and find the right opportunity for them.
Vanessa Lovie the current CEO of Bsale shares her journey from taking over the family organisation, to building the team to where Bsale is headed in 2022.
Bsale was started 22 years ago on the Central Coast, NSW with simply a desktop computer and dial-up internet as Vanessa recalls:
“Mum was always involved in the community, chairing athletics boards, involved at the local school and running local fundraisers. She knew so many owners who always struggled when it was time to sell. She was also looking for an opportunity to buy a local shop and couldn't easily find what she was looking for. This is how Bsale was born. A problem was identified, mum taught herself Microsoft front-page and Bsale went online in 2000 with a total of 10 pages, today its well into the hundreds of thousands"
When pressed for this interview, Vanessa was reluctant to participate. Whilst owning a successful business for sale marketplace and managing her team, she isn’t the type of person to enjoy, the spotlight.
“I love coming up with ideas and figuring out ways to make things work. I enjoy working with my team and seeing us succeed, but I’ve never enjoyed being in the spotlight. It’s probably why I work online (she laughs).” Vanessa said.
If one thing is apparent about Vanessa, it’s her positive attitude and ability to get straight to the point. Vanessa places a great deal of value on her team and understands that a good organisation revolves around teamwork and good management.
“When building the team at Bsale, I always wanted to create an environment where my team was talented, they worked hard and could enjoy the flexibility to do other life commitments, like watching their kids play sports. I think in this era, if possible, bosses should allow this type of environment.” Vanessa said.
One of the major benefits of a business for sale website like Bsale is that the team can work online and connect without having to be stuck in long traffic commutes.
"Since Covid so many organisations transitioned to online and work from home. Ironically we have been doing this for the past 22 years. We would have team meetings in person on occasion, but everything would be handled online. After all we are an online business"
“Our team has evolved over the years. We have team members in QLD and NSW. We dont have to rely on location to find the talent. We have a dream and passion to make Bsale succeed - that and the skills people bring are most important.”
Vanessa came into the role of manager 11 years ago as her mother, Kaye, was transitioning into retirement. Reflecting on the past few years, Vanessa shared why she chose to stay at Bsale the business for sale marketplace and what it now means to her.
“Bsale has always been a part of my life. It was what my mother was passionate about, its what I grew up around. When the decision came for me to take over as manager. I enjoyed the opportunity and what the future would hold. A lot has changed in the digital space, there is always something new to learn. We rely heavily on Google rankings and digital marketing, so it’s important to always stay up to date with these trends and what is happening.”
When asked how her Mum felt about her still running Bsale, Vanessa laughed and said “Just the other day, Mum was saying, I guess it’s time for some long service leave.”
“I think any one who is part of family organisation can appreciate the comradery that exists. There is always the eb and flow of communication and managing situations. I don’t know if either of us ever saw where we would take Bsale or how long I would run it. It just evolved over the years.”
“At the core of many organisations in Australia is family. We start, build and chase targets to support our families and in many instances with their support and assistance. Whilst many may joke how hard it is to run a company with your spouse/parent/child etc. it’s what makes many owners successful. This is the same with Bsale”.
One of the biggest challenges Bsale faced in the past 5 years was the need to replace the existing website and transition to a new business for sale website. This meant moving thousands of pages, millions of lines of information, photos, statstitics, client information and listing data to a new platform, and hopefully without taking too much of a hit from Google.
"One of our biggest concerns when moving the site was ensuring all the data was transferred correctly. Our site was old, and we knew it. We originally built in 2000, rebuilt in 2009 and now it was 2020 and we needed to do it again. We had continually built upon the site, but as most developers know a time comes when you need to start from scratch. Technology changes so Bsale's business for sale website had to change. Making the decision with who and how, took us a long time to decide. We wanted the transition to be smooth and as less impactful on our rankings as possible"
When asked Vanessa whether it was a good decision to move the business for sale website and if she had advice for owners facing a similar challenge.
"In the end it was the right decision, it needed to happen. In fact, I probably acted too slow and it should have been done 2 years earlier. I think the fear of it plumetting, loosing ranking and traffic is what held me back. Bsale has always had a good reputation, and I wanted to ensure we kept our rankings and results for our clients. My advice for owners is probably, do your research, and make sure when you make that decision, you know it will take time, Google is its own powerhouse, you can take all the precautions and measures but time will always be the indicator of the success. Like they say.. Rome wasn't built in a day"
The team that surrounds Bsale is important for its success. When you own an organisation, who you surround yourself with matters, it can either make or break a company.
“Bsale today is much stronger than it was 10-20 years ago. We have built a team that is passionate and hard-working and delivers on expectations. When we decided to rebuild, I wanted people with experience to give advice. So many quotes were collected, opinions given. The final decision, was based heavily around experience, communication and ability to evolve and change the site over the coming years. I couldn't afford to re-do the site and not have the ability to change and adapt. Website developers can promise you a lot, until you read the fine print, or charges keep being added. The decision we made was right for Bsale"
With all changes that have occurred with the bsale website, I asked Vanessa if it has it made it easier for people to find a business for sale.
"Of course (she laughs). As the owner there are so many things I see and analyse. I could see so many faults with our previous platform. As time passes, technology advances and we quickly needed to change the way people explored and found a business for sale. So yes, there are so many easy ways to find, track, save and see listings".
As an owner, Vanessa has always been interested in opportunities.
“I just love looking at a business for sale. Reading how it was built, what the owners invested, why its for sale, the opportunity that is available to the buyer. There are really some great opportunities out there to explore buying a business for sale. There is so much opportunity for people to move to a regional town or to leave their 9-5 and become an owner or to keep growing by taking over another operation. Its about the willingness to back yourself and believe you are capable."
Connecting with other owners, Vanessa is always asked ‘what do you do?’ She confides, this always seems to be a struggle to answer quickly. Highlighting she isn’t a broker or in marketing, she owns a business for sale marketplace, but then hesitates because “it’s so much more than that”.
"Bsale is in such a unique company. 22 years as a business for sale website we have seen so much happen over this time. We arent like the real estate sector, our clients are B2B. The way organisations are sold, the process, the time, the loans, the risks, everything is different. Theres only a few hundred brokers in Australia, not the thousands like real estate agents. Understanding financials, the buyers and sellers motives and how to fit the right person to the right company. Its a true profession. We are just fortunate to have the platform to help connect buyers, sellers and brokers"
Owning an online marketplace can come with some great advantages, as Vanessa has shared, “I love the freedom I have with owning an online business for sale markeplace. I don’t think I could ever do 9-5 again. It’s been over 10 years.”
“Whilst I may work crazy hours at times. I also have other times when I can make a hair appointment on a Tuesday and not need to ask for time off.” Vanessa said.
“At the end of the day, many journeys are similar. How will you obtain clients, serve them and continue to grow?”
There are many pathways to owning a company. A person may have stepped into a family organisation, bought a company, or started one from scratch.
With recent celebrations for international women’s day, I asked Vanessa about her views on owning a company.
“As a female owner, I think it’s so important to build an organisation that gives you flexibility. No matter what industry you are in. Always look at your company, at your team. How can you create systems that will make it run better and give you more freedom for family or other interests.”
“When I see statistics on the number of women in CEO positions or the wage gap I always wonder what more can be done. I’ve seen some recent pushes for free childcare to assist women to return to the workforce. I think there are a lot of great ideas and initiatives the government should support.” Vanessa said.
Vanessa is naturally drawn to running Bsale, growing up around family companies and being involved with many owners over the years. She gives her thoughts on becoming an owner.
“Anyone who is thinking about buying or starting a company. I say go for it! Do your research. Understand the business for sale marketplace so you can find the right opportunity. Do your due diligence and understand how you will generate sales. Don’t invest too much at the start. A lot of people think of a great idea, then struggle to make sales.”
“Start small, build a following, then grow.“
Vanessa goes on to say that this is why she believes buying a business for sale can be a great option.
“So much hard work is already done. You can see a sales history. You know your clients, suppliers, location etc. The biggest parts are making sure you’re paying the right price, it is as it appears, and you have the skills to run it.” Vanessa said.
In this edition of the Bsale Magazine we are focused on regional opportunities as Vanessa shares Bsale as a business for sale website has always had a focus on country and regional opportunities.
"We are from a coastal town, we saw the need of owners and we created Bsale and wanted to have a business for sale website that was capable of helping owners to connect with buyers."
“Australia has some amazing and beautiful country towns, many with the conveniences of capital cities. Owners can enjoy a beautiful lifestyle balance,” Vanessa said, elaborating further; “owning a shop or cafe in a country town can give you a good connection to the local community.”
“You will quickly meet new people and can build a lifestyle for your family”.
We are seeing a lot of people move to regional towns. As Vanessa highlighted “The combination of less stress, affordable housing, covid restrictions and a better lifestyle are the main driving factors’’
There is an increase in people wanting to travel across Australia, which will bring more money back to small regional communities.
“Mum and dad just bought a motorhome so they can start travelling again, there has been such an increase in the price of caravans and motorhomes, I think a lot of people just want to travel and escape the daily routine,” Vanessa said.
The idea of buying a shop or cafe is appealing to many people. There is often people searching for a business for sale in regional towns because they want a change. It can be their way of connecting to a new community, getting involved and making friendships. Though Vanessa highlights the need to do your research.
“When buying a business for sale in a regional town make sure you do due diligence. You want to know you’re paying the right price and it is a stable operation.”
“I’ve heard some horror stories of owners buying a local newsagency for sale only to find out they won’t be a registered post office next year, or the fuel tank won’t deliver fuel anymore. Country towns come with their own unique set of issues. So always do your research” Vanessa said. 15
Research shouldn’t start and end with the shopfront itself. Income for owners in regional towns can be heavily affected by their surrounding environments. With fewer people as potential customers, you need to be aware of any local developments when you look at a business for sale.
“Learn what the council is planning - are there any major highway changes coming? Learn what the suppliers’ plans are - will they continue to deliver to your remote area? Learn about housing estates - is something being built nearby? Learn about the current owner - will people only go there because they own it - e.g. a hairdresser.”
“There are so many things to consider when buying a business for sale. So get professional help and do your research.” Vanessa said.
Vanessa cares about the success of communities and equal opportunities for owners across the country. Over the last few years, Bsale’s focus has really been on education and showing people the process of buying and selling and how you can find a business for sale in various locations.
"There has always been a lot of talk about entrepreneurs and start ups. What is ironic about this, is about 60% fail in the first 3 years. Thats a lot of owners who simply invest a lot of time and close-up because their operation isn't profitable or they couldn't manage client expectations. An established company has gone through the first 3 year wave and come out the other side."
Vanessa explains how the current process workings in finding a business for sale and how potential owners can harness the search features.
"When you want to find a business for sale the most common method is to perform a search on the industry or type of opportunity you are interested in such as cafe for sale or to search in a region such as businesses for sale in Melbourne. You can then narrow down by price point or. keywords such as 'under management'. "
"Obviously time is precious and no one has the ability to constantly be searching for a business for sale, this is why you can save search alerts, favourite listings and so on, so we will notify you when an opportunity matches your criteria".
On the other side of the coin, you have sellers and people wanting to find a buyer. How they can go about this.
“So many owners come to sell a business and have no idea what to expect. We have opportunities from $50,000 to multi-millions. Even choosing a broker can be difficult. How do you know who will take care of you and your sale? Who will get you the best price? Do you need a broker or can you sell it on your own?” Vanessa shares common concerns of owners.
Bsale has put together guides to assist owners in selling a business.
“So that’s what we’re focused on. Delivering quality leads for our clients and providing good educational material for owners and potential buyers. We talk to professionals and share their advice so everyone understands the process even more” Vanessa said.
The notion of selling is challenging for many owners. They have learnt how to run a company, and grow but when it comes time to find a buyer and to place the business for sale it can be very daunting. This is why Bsale encourages every owner to speak with a broker. Internally, its also important to ensure your employees are prepared for the uncertainty and change ahead.
“Brokers are instrumental in buying and selling. They assist so many owners to prepare their enterprise for sale and can help achieve an optimum price. Brokers must be licensed in the state they operate. They are professionals and should be consulted when buying or selling” Vanessa said.
“When the pandemic hit and people were forced to ‘work from home’ and made to innovate. Our team just smiled because we were already there. Conducting meetings online, running task management systems and communicating online was our daily norm. We would travel to Sydney to attend meetings but at the core, our team enjoyed the flexibility an online operation offers’’.
Though not immune from the pandemic restrictions, Vanessa said that the pandemic “hit our business for sale website in other ways”.
“People weren’t so keen on buying and selling. There was so much uncertainty. Was a company still worth the same? How long would restrictions last? Was it risky to buy? Will I get the best price if I sell now?”
“Thankfully we are seeing a much more stable environment these days,” Vanessa said, at least with sales.
Bsale is always aware of what is happening around Australia and the effects it is having on organisations. Owners have faced a lot of struggles over the past few years from bushfires to droughts to covid restrictions and now more recently, severe flooding.
“As we go to publish, much of NSW and QLD are affected by severe flooding. The stories and images of Lismore and Brisbane are just heartbreaking. The cleanup and recovery will take some time. It will be difficult for many to recover, especially on the back of Covid restrictions we have faced the past 2 or so years” Vanessa said.
“My heart goes out to owners feeling the stress right now in these areas. Seeing your shop, salon or cafe closed, houses and possessions lost and losing your income. It’s a lot to deal with.”
Having interviewed Vanessa and known her for many years, it’s apparent she cares about the success of communities and organisations in Australia.
Bsale was built with owners in mind, to give them options, today it continues to grow with this ethos at its core. By assisting owners and brokers to place a business for sale they are able to connect with potential buyers. Get in touch with the team at Bsale for more assistance.
Driving enquiries, embracing new software developments and continuing to be a source of information for owners will see Bsale continue to grow into the future, as a family company.
"2022 is the year we fully get to embrace Bsale's business for sale website. All of the hard work in moving data has been done, we've ironed out most of the kinks and can now focus on building our site and continuing to deliver for our clients. The years ahead we will continue to evolve with technology and look at ways to make the process of buying and selling even easier".
Updated: June 23, 2022
Caitlin has a background in media and communications, studying journalism at University and doing various freelance writing and production work over the past 5 years.
Having grown up in a family business, Caitlin understands and values the importance of small business. Particularly creating and encouraging opportunity for people from all backgrounds and experiences to follow their dreams, and not only be welcomed into the world of business, but succeed.