Business owners who are thinking of retiring in the next few years need to catch the technology wave soon, if they haven't already, or find themselves going nowhere fast, a Northland business broker says.

LINK Northland's Rudy Kokx, who has been selling businesses since 2012 in Northland and Auckland, said that in the short term business owners who want to retire in five to 10 years needed to realise that if they don't want to invest in new technologies now they are going to be more than 10 years behind in five years' time because of the faster evolvement of business through technology.

When generation Y is looking to buy a business they will look at the relevance of the industry in fast-changing business world where new rules apply. The old way of doing business could seem useless and worth nothing like it would be in these present times.
It could be like today's news is tomorrow's fish and chips wrapping, he said.

He suggests if business owners aren't keen to adapt to the changing times it might be "better to sell now".

There is an immediate need for smaller businesses run by an owner operator, he said.
Mr Kokx said that since moving north in 2015 he had been amazed at the opportunities in the region.

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"It is growing which means we need more jobs, more providers in the service industry and more opportunities for people to buy a business - mainly because there may not be enough jobs to cater for everyone."

There has been some discussion around the future of work recently because of the robotisation of many industries and the arrival of artificial intelligence.

But he is not too concerned about robotisation in New Zealand just yet.

"Typically we are lagging behind a couple of years and I think that, in that regard, New Zealand is particularly well equipped to anticipate in the impact of this global phenomenon."

Mr Kokx said that LINK Northland had about 20 Northland businesses officially listed currently plus another six web-based opportunities which could be relocated to Northland. Of these about five were in negotiation and another two businesses were currently under contract.

Businesses can take longer to sell in Northland compared to Auckland, he said.

When LINK started in Whangarei it found there weren't many (if any) agents specialising in selling businesses. Now there is a demand for people with these skills, he said.

"It seemed that people didn't really knew there was the opportunity to actually sell the assets and goodwill of a business."

Mr Kokx started out in a business called 0800errands. The LINK Business head office in Auckland was one of his biggest clients. His job was to change lightbulbs and take junk files/excess files/furniture to the landfill.

After observing how brokers were waiting for phone calls from potential clients he approached the director of LINK Business Broking and suggested they could ask business owners if they had been thinking of selling in the past 12 months, or if they were thinking of doing so in the next 18 months.

What he found was that, from the people who had already sold a business and used a broker, 95 per cent would use a business broker again because of the complexity in the actual business sales process.

"That's what convinced me to take this opportunity," he said. "When I brought in enough leads he asked me to join the team."

Mr Kokx has sold 24 businesses worth $12 million since 2012 - with the average transaction value over $500,000.

The turning point came when he chose to come to Whangarei in October 2015.

"I thought I was going to sell only cafes and lunchbars but the businesses sold in Northland included hospitality as well as an automotive business, retail, a fencing business and a number of motels.

"Also my colleagues have made huge progress in selling businesses."