10 Questions in 10 Minutes with Mike Ponsonby

Real estate office owner, multi-unit franchise business owner. It's fair to say Mike Ponsonby has lived and breathed small business and real estate, it was also no surprise that Mike achieved Kakapo Elite status for the 2019-2020 Year. We throw Mike in the Kakapo hot seat as he answers 10 questions in 10 minutes about everything from business to sports and his number one, family.

You've been in business and real estate your entire life, tell us about your career path to joining Kakapo in 2017.

My parents entered commercial & residential real estate in 1987 after the crash, I grew up with real estate chat around the dinner table my whole life. I joined the family business in 2007 when I purchased an agency from my parents – jumping straight into owning an agency and managing sales people much older than me was a big challenge and a steep learning curve. From there I managed Harcourts in St Heliers in 2016-2018 – a booming market driven by immigration. We were a small office but it was still $100,000,000 worth of contracts that we processed a year.

Tell us about the life and times as a Kakapo Elite 19-20 Business Broker

Joining Kakapo enabled me to leverage my business ownership and real estate knowledge into one. James has been key to adding more business process to my skill base for the much longer & complicated transaction in a business sale. For me, Kakapo is about our market leading approach to how a business is presented for sale, and the upbeat positive culture in the team. I genuinely enjoy the outcomes we achieve for our clients.

A mad keen fisherman, share with the readers your best ever day out on the water

For me its not just about the thrill of chasing big fish, it’s about the opportunity to relax with a couple of good mates, enjoy a beer and a laugh. Catching a good fish is a bonus. It’s great to get out with my boy Tom and share the experience with him as well.

What is your take on the business sales market post-COVID19?

The stop-start nature of Covid has been frustrating - like any business, consistency and momentum is key. It's hard to be too bullish about the great year myself and Kakapo are having when so many Kiwis have big challenges in the Covid business environment. The market has been very strong, particularly in the $250,000 to $1,000,000 category with solid multiples achieved on business profits. Currently I have 5 businesses under offer, the challenge is to find more quality businesses to bring to the market.

You've visited over 50 countries across the globe. When the borders open up again, what is the first place you would like to visit and why?

I am very passionate about Africa. Despite the poverty, most people are happy with their humble lifestyle. It's hard to explain but the people just get on with life and are happy and grateful for what they have. I would like to take my children there to experience the culture, history, wildlife and adventure before my oldest goes off to study.

In your opinion, what is the single biggest difference between a highly successful business owner and an unsuccessful business owner?

James my boss made a comment in the office last year and it rings true to me. Too many business owners focus on revenue & growth, but profit is what provides for your family. Controlling cost and focusing on the bottom line is, and always will be number one.

Favourite sports person and favourite sports team of all time?

I was born in South Canterbury and always followed the Crusaders, Todd Blackadder was someone who built his career on effort, determination and lead by example – I have so much respect for that.

A rugby player for many years and still a diehard Canterbury/Sacred Heart first 15 supporter. What position did you play and what learnings were transferable from sport into business?

I was not a gifted footy player but enjoyed having a crack & mostly played lock and some loose head prop. The biggest thing about team sport and business is not wanting to let your team mates down, that collective commitment and positive attitude towards a common goal.

What is the single biggest mistake you see business owners making when they bring their business to market?

Too many business owners go to the market without enough forward planning. Include your lawyer, accountant and broker in planning the exit a minimum 12 months out.

Last of all and most importantly, with 3 kids under 14 and a beautiful wife who puts up with you, what does family mean to you and how do they give you purpose?

Family is everything to me, it keeps me grounded, I have learned that the needs of my children come first. It’s the best experience life can offer, to watch a young person evolve and grow is special. To be able to help mould and support your children along their journey to become young adults is truly the most challenging but rewarding experience.

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