Open for 'Business'
John Ryan and John Ahern show off their
goods in the form of www.thebusinessshop.ie, a new website
dedicated to helping people find and buy businesses in
Limerick duo set up one-stop shop for Irish
An idea dreamt up by two Limerick businessmen
seems to be catching on fast in Ireland -- and it could be of
particular interest to Irish-Americans or Irish emigrants planning
to return home.
The two men, John Ryan and John Ahern, formally
launched their website, www.thebusinessshop.ie, in January. The site
does what its name suggests -- it provides a forum for the buying
and selling of Irish businesses. In less than eight months, 99
businesses have been offered for sale on the site along with many
franchise opportunities. Almost 20,000 people have browsed the
Business Shop's pages, though it is not known how many actual sales
have taken place.
The idea for the site emerged when Ryan and
Ahern, who also run a company that facilitates corporate text
messaging via cell phone, decided to seek other investment
opportunities. They relied on the usual informal network of contacts
-- accountants, solicitors and business acquaintances -- but came up
with nothing. It was only then that they realized that there was no
obvious way to publicly advertise businesses for sale in Ireland.
"The search for the business became the
business itself," Ahern told the Echo.
The variety of businesses on the sites is
startling, as is the difference in the prices being sought. On
Tuesday, for example, a tourist hostel was for sale for almost €3
million ($3.7 million), while the more modestly financed would
be-investor could consider buying a candle-making business for
€32,000 ($39,000) or a Waterford dry cleaners for €140,000
Ahern contends that a large proportion of
visitors to the site are from outside Ireland. He assumes that most
of these people may well be Irish emigrants thinking about returning
home. The potential usefulness of the site to Irish people abroad is
clear, he believes:
"Irish people are coming home in increasing
numbers. But most of the time, people who have emigrated will want
to go back to a specific area. And often those areas might be in
areas of Ireland where the chances of getting a well-paid job are
not especially strong. So the only way to make a viable return to
that area might be to buy a business. It's for that reason that we
are really hoping to spread the word about the website among
Ahern and his business partner do, of course,
have a vested interest in drumming up business for the website. But
they also seem to genuinely believe in the importance of the service
"Most people work through their accountants or
auctioneers when trying to buy or sell a business," John Ryan
contended. "[But] this really limits the scope of entrepreneurs
trying to find good business opportunities and also the scope of
business-owners trying to find buyers for their business."
According to John Ahern,
www.thebusinessshop.ie is virtually unique:
"There are websites in Australia, the UK and
the U.S. that sell some businesses, but none of them encompasses
every aspect of the market in the way that we do."
This comprehensive approach has contributed to
the website's early success, which has seen the number of visitors,
subscribers and advertisers all rise rapidly.
According to Ahern, the aim now is simple.
"To grow the site and, even if competitors
arrive, to ensure that this stays the premium site of its kind in
This story appeared in the issue of August
(c) 2005 Irish Echo Newspaper
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