Blake Hutchison is the CEO of Flippa, the #1 marketplace to buy and sell sites, stores, social media accounts and online businesses. Blake has worked on leadership teams assisting in fast-growth businesses, including Xero and Luxury Escapes. Among his start up experience, he also founded a company… he then used Flippa to sell the business.
Check out more interviews with entrepreneurs here.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO GET FEATURED?
All interviews are 100% FREE OF CHARGE
Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Blake Hutchison: My name is Blake Hutchison and I am the CEO at Flippa. We are the #1 marketplace globally to buy and sell online businesses. I am lucky to serve the largest global community of business owners looking to exit and entrepreneurs / companies looking to invest and acquire.
I’ve worked on leadership teams assisting in fast growth businesses including Xero and Australia’s fastest growing company, Luxury Escapes. Among my start up experience, I also founded a company… then used Flippa to exit the business.
2021 and 2022 threw a lot of curve balls into business on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past couple years, how can businesses thrive in 2023? What lessons have you learned?
Blake Hutchison: We’re in a moment of economic uncertainty, with high inflation and a volatile stock market. The macro factors are immense. Many people are worried about the possibility of recession, some industries (including the formerly high-flying start up tech sector) are already seeing a rise in layoffs, and the future of the post-pandemic economy is unclear.
Look after your own backyard. Focus on the fundamentals. Here at Flippa we are more focused on impact than ever before. What do our customers want now? If we can help customers today, our business is far better tomorrow.
No matter what happens next on Wall Street or in Silicon Valley, there are strong signs that the future of online businesses is bright. Digital entrepreneurship and investment in online and digital businesses is still very early in its life lifecycle. There is substantial growth potential, even if America enters a recession.
Bottom line: it’s still the beginning. Even if the overall economy goes into a slowdown, savvy investors and hard-working digital entrepreneurs are still going to be a powerful engine of economic growth.
The pandemic seems to keep on disrupting the economy, what should businesses focus on in 2023? What advice would you share?
Blake Hutchison: Successful disruptors build better offerings that benefit more people. When they do, we embrace them.
Unfortunately disruption has become so sought after by entrepreneurs chasing greatness rather than customer value that in some cases you end up with a disaster. You have heard of the devastation and destructive influence of the pretenders like Sam Bankman Fried (FTX) and Elizabeth Holmes (Theranos). They said they were brilliant… The arrogance and greed is heart-breaking. There’s just a touch more balance now and hopefully we all learn from these mistakes (doubtful that we will though).
My advice is pretty simple. Try your very best to give your highest value customers exactly what they want. In many cases, this is the best service. In some cases, this is the best value offering. In Flippa’s case, it’s choice, advisory and efficiency at the best value. We have more sellers. We have more buyers. We work on understanding quality more than ever before, killing bad practices and matching. Sellers want to sell. Buyers want to buy. Everyone in the company needs to facilitate this and focus on what we are setting out to achieve – to democratize the exit and enable business ownership for everyone.
How has the pandemic changed your industry and how have you adapted?
Blake Hutchison: Flippa helps business owners to sell their businesses and others to become entrepreneurs and better businesses. We have grown 300% but given we represent mature assets, the huge growth in digital business ownership isn’t something that has directly benefited us commercially yet…it will though.
We are lucky. Our business started 13 years ago. We understand the industry immensely. We invented the space and so this gives us the opportunity to pivot as we see trends happening on the platform. This continues but we are probably even quicker now and more agile than ever before.
What advice do you wish you received when the pandemic started and what do you intend on improving in 2022?
Blake Hutchison: Hindsight is incredible. We are seeing businesses implode that expanded too aggressively and too fast to capitalize on shifts. In our case, we didn’t invest hard enough and I think we could have actually benefited better.
We are excited about helping more businesses and we’ll be improving our reach by adding new services to help business owners better understand their worth and better prepare for exits.
Online business surged higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for 2023?
Blake Hutchison: The pandemic saw a historic rise in new business formation. Millions of entrepreneurs across the country started a side hustle to earn extra income, or entered into a new career field with online entrepreneurship to make money while working from home.
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, applications for new Employer Identification Numbers (EINs) rose more than 20% between 2019 and 2020. These new business applications for “non-employers” (solo entrepreneurs) rose by 1.3 million between March 2020-May 2021, and “likely employers” (businesses likely to hire employees) rose by 500,000 during that period. New businesses in the category of Non-Store Retail accounted for a third of this growth.
Beyond lockdowns, people are still using their mobile devices as the center of their daily lives. Last year alone, there were 32 billion app downloads and people spent an average of 100 hours per month on mobile apps. Statista research projects that by 2025, mobile commerce sales will account for 10% of total retail sales in the U.S.
Mobile commerce and other digital business activities are still scratching the surface of what is possible for savvy entrepreneurs and start up founders.
We are excited about these trends.
The majority of executives use stories to persuade and communicate in the workplace. Can you share with our readers examples of how you implement that in your business to communicate effectively with your team?
Blake Hutchison: We are disciplined in the way we plan and this orientates to speed. We work on 10 week cycles. Two weeks is planning (20%) and 8 weeks is delivery and execution (80%). We ensure that the whole team feels empowered to contribute ideas, problems and potential solutions.
We distribute data and talk it through. Once the decisions are made we focus on briefings and these are still best done in person. While we have a flexible workforce we do insist on 2-days in-office participation weekly. This helps us to take in feedback face-to-face which we still find to be powerful. As I write this piece, I am witnessing our global engineering team come together…it’s clear this still works effectively.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as the real challenge right now?
Blake Hutchison: I’ve worked in growth, business development and leadership roles over nearly 20 years. I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of growing divisions, channels and businesses but more pertinently, I absolutely love building something that customers get real value from. This passion led me to Flippa where we enable the exit and empower business ownership for thousands of business owners, investors and operators each year.
One of the biggest challenges of our time is how to create a more prosperous and inclusive economy that embraces the talents and contributions of a diverse population. For too long, women and underrepresented minority groups have been overlooked by investors, and have been excluded from career opportunities and access to capital.
When talented people get a fair shot at business opportunities, the entire economy benefits. The Flippa platform democratizes access to buyer and investor networks that most would never get access to. We know that and we aim to enable that.
In 2023, what are you most interested in learning about? Crypto, NFTs, online marketing, or any other skill sets? Please share your motivations.
Blake Hutchison: I center my learning around three things; marketplaces, small business ownership and customer / team leadership. Serving our customers and in turn, Building and growing Flippa is an obsession so my motivations are pretty clear. It’s very focused right now.
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Blake Hutchison: I’m going to say patience. Haha. I get extremely anxious when I don’t believe we or I are going fast enough.
What does “success” in 2023 mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level; please share your vision.
Blake Hutchison: Every day I hear another story of another individual changing paths, finding a new beginning, and taking control of their future. These are moments that matter and we are obsessed by that.
Our vision is big and we will achieve it. It’s to democratize the exit and provide a pathway to business ownership. If we can help 100’s of thousands of business owners to exit, to acquire and thrive…we have been successful.
Jerome Knyszewski, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Blake Hutchison for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Blake Hutchison or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
Disclaimer: The ValiantCEO Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.