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ECONOMY

Call It a Comeback: Small Business Sales Rebound

The number of businesses sold last year jumped to levels not seen since the Great Recession.
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It may be time to break out that leftover champagne for a post-New Year tipple--though you may want to hold off on your best bottle.

The pace for sales of small businesses exceeds levels not seen since 2008, according to the 2013 annual report released Wednesday by BizBuySell, an online marketplace that connects business buyers and sellers.

The number of transactions in the report blows past the sluggish sales logged during the Great Recession, increasing about 50 percent to 7056 completed transactions in 2013 compared to last year, and BizBuySell is ringing the bells of recovery, if cautiously. 

'People believe this recovery has a solid footing now, and the conditions are such with small business performance as measured by revenue and cash flow, that it appears the economy is moving in the right direction," Curtis Kroeker, group general manager of BizBuySell.com says.

Businesses sold for a median $180,000 in 2013, a 12 percent increase compared to 2012. Median revenue for businesses increased 13 percent to $405,905 for the same period. (This year's median sale number represents a 20 percent increase over 2010, the trough of the recession, while median revenue increased 19 percent for the same period.)

The report also shows the gathering might of small businesses in their increasing cash flow levels, which jumped nearly 10 percent to a median $97,000 compared to 2012 and 17 percent compared to 2010.

At the same time, buyers still hold the upper hand, paying on average 0.59 times revenue and 2.21 times cash flow. Prior to the economic meltdown in 2008, buyers paid 0.69 times revenue and 2.76 times cash flow, according to BizBuySell.

The biggest winners last year were restaurant and retail businesses. Sales of these companies increased 78 percent and 71 percent respectively in 2013 compared to the previous year. 

And BizBuySell expects the growth to continue in 2014.

"The number of transactions in a given quarter will stay strong and hopefully go higher than what we saw in 2013," Kroeker says.

Last updated: Jan 8, 2014

JEREMY QUITTNER | Staff Writer | Staff Writer, Inc. and Inc.com

Jeremy Quittner is a staff writer for Inc. magazine and Inc.com. He previously covered technology for American Banker and entrepreneurship for BusinessWeek.




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