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SELLING A BUSINESS

Sales of Small Businesses Rose in 2011

BizBuySell report reveals that, gradually, it's becoming a good time to be a seller.
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For the second year in a row, sales of small businesses crept up in 2011, according to a new report.

The number of small businesses across the U.S. that changed owners in 2011 was up 3.3 percent: 6,703 total, compared to 2010's total of 6,486, according to BizBuySell.com, an online business-for-sale marketplace. In 2010, small-business transactions rose 2.9 percent–but that was after a 28 percent decrease in 2009.

"While 2011 continued to be a tough year for the nation's small business owners, we were pleased to see that business performance is improving and more people are buying small businesses," said Mike Handelsman, group general manager of BizBuySell.com and BizQuest.com. "Helping this is the fact that business sellers are adjusting their value expectations, something that should continue to spur deals in 2012."

The data driving these statistics comes from listings from local business brokers, as well as "for sale by owner" listings that have been listed by the business owner without the assistance of a broker.

Along with the rise in transactions, there was a 3.3 percent increase in the median selling price, which jumped from $150,000 in 2010 to $155,000 in 2011. Median revenue jumped 6.7 percent, suggesting that it was improved business performance that helped drive the increased sales activity.

"We are seeing improved small business transaction activity driven, at least in part, by the fact that small business owners are lowering prices to attract buyers, Handelsman said. "It's slowly becoming a better time to be a seller, but it's already a good time to be a buyer."

Convenience stores took a hit in 2011: The median asking price for them was $175,000, with a median sale price of $145,000 during the fourth quarter of 2011. That's barely half of 2010's figures: a median asking price of $299,500 and a median sale price of $282,000.

Overall, 46 convenience stores were sold in the fourth quarter of 2011, compared to 40 in the same quarter of 2010. The median revenue for convenience stores in the fourth quarter of 2011 was $540,000, and the median cash flow was $100,000, according to BizBuySell.com data. That's a huge dip from 2010, when median revenue in the fourth quarter was $765,000 and median cash flow was $112,966.

San Francisco-based BizBuySell lists more than 45,000 businesses in 80 countries for sale. 

Last updated: Jan 25, 2012

COURTNEY RUBIN

Inc. contributing editor Courtney Rubin was for five years a London-based staff writer for People magazine. Rubin, a former senior writer for Washingtonian magazine, has written for the New York Times magazine, Time, Marie Claire, and other publications. She is the author of The Weight-Loss Diaries.




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