Demographic changes affect Main Street

In the next five years, up to one-quarter of the business owners in the Okanagan could be looking to sell their businesses.

In the next five years, up to one-quarter of the business owners in the Okanagan could be looking to sell their businesses, most due to retirement.

The majority of these owners have no exit strategy, and some plan to simply close their doors without even trying to sell.

These changing demographics will create shortfalls in both employers and employees that will result in numerous closures of small businesses.

This reality will deeply affect smaller and rural communities such as Summerland.  We have already seen examples of this type of closure on our Main Street in recent years.  Store fronts are shuttered and jobs are lost.

One organization that is working to reverse the trend is Venture Connect.

Originally a project of Community Futures, Venture Connect is now an independent organization serving communities all over B.C. by connecting business sellers with Canadian and international investors. The organization helps businesses by not only marketing their businesses effectively, but more importantly, providing advice and counselling on how to prepare your business for sale so it’s attractive to a buyer.

It’s important to remember that the average time it takes to sell a business has increased from six to eight months in 2006 to about a year and a half now.

Sadly 75 per cent of business sales fail to close so it’s vital to have a plan to transition your business.

In Summerland, the Chamber of Commerce and the District of Summerland have recently partnered with other South Okanagan communities and Community Futures in the creation of Venture Connect’s first Business Buyers Guide for our area.

Sample guides can be viewed at ventureconnect.ca.

The guide is distributed in a printed digest format and online.  The listing is free. If you or someone you know has a business for sale and would like to be included in the first Okanagan digest, or if you need information on how to prepare a business for sale, please contact Venture Connect Business Advisor, Darrell Goertzen at Darrell@ventureconnect.ca.

To benefit from a free listing for your business, please contact Darrell by June 30.

We always appreciate your feedback.  Please contact me at manager@summerlandchamber.com or our Chamber President, Arlene Fenrich, at president@summerlandchamber.com.

Christine Petkau is the manager of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce.